As WJI continues to grow and adapt to the added challenges of navigating a global pandemic, our work to track our progress and measure our impact is even more critical. We interviewed our fantastic Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Andrea Tock, to hear more about the importance of strengthening our evaluation systems.
Please share a bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Guatemala City. During my teenage years I became very interested in social justice issues and thus decided that I wanted to study something in the social sciences. I got a B.A in Political Science from Universidad Rafael Landívar and a few years later a Masters in Gender Studies from Lund University in Sweden. I have experience in civil society organizations as a researcher, consultant, and educator in areas such as anti-racist education, sexual and reproductive rights advocacy, and social inclusion of rural youth. I am also active in different feminist organizations in Guatemala.
What brought you to WJI?
I was attracted to WJI because of its community-based and ecological approach to improving women’s lives, which is something that I find innovative and important. I am happy to contribute to the work that WJI does while learning from my coworkers and the women and girls with whom we work.
Could you explain what exactly is monitoring and evaluation (M&E)?
Monitoring and Evaluation combines data collection and analysis to assess the impact of our programs and the ways in which they can be improved.
What does that look like for WJI?
According to our beneficiaries and staff, we know that WJI’s work is meaningful and beneficial for indigenous rural communities in Guatemala. M&E is used to confirm this on a larger scale. We are now in the process of improving our M&E system to make the flow of information more efficient so that we can have access to real-time data from our programs and partners, which will allow us to intervene and make improvements wherever needed.
What has your role been in WJI’s COVID response?
COVID-19 hit Patzún especially hard. The entire municipality was under a full lockdown for over a month, which made communication and our ability to help our beneficiaries very complicated. We decided that the Community Advocates were our best source of knowledge about the situation on the ground. Our Kaqchikel-speaking staff reached out to the Advocates over the phone. I created an online survey for staff to report the information the Advocates shared. This allowed us to have a quick flow of communication that informed our decisions regarding our response to COVID.
I have also been WJI’s contact person in The Colectivo, an alliance of organizations that jointly launched a public education campaign using the radio and internet to reach rural homes with information on topics that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic, such as reproductive health, domestic violence, nutrition/health, and girls’ education. In this capacity, I’ve been coordinating the production of 30-minute radio shows that touch on several of WJI’s areas of expertise. Since May, the Colectivo has broadcast over 8,000 COVID-related radio spots in three local languages: Kaqchikel, K’iche, and Tz’utujil.
How does M&E tie in with WJI's goals for the new project funded by the Tinker Foundation?
As WJI expands and reaches more people, monitoring and evaluation becomes more relevant, since it is the best way to learn how WJI can become more sustainable. M&E informs every step that we take in order to ensure we provide the most useful and meaningful services to women in rural communities.
For the Tinker Foundation grant and the expansion to Comalapa, we plan to test hypotheses related to new innovations in our programs. We’ll be trying out new methods in order to improve WJI’s sustainability and our ability to scale up more efficiently in the future. To ensure our results have a widespread impact, we will then disseminate our findings to targeted audiences at the local, national, and international levels.
Thank you, Andrea, for all of your hard work and dedication to strengthening WJI and supporting Maya women and girls throughout Guatemala!