Looking back and looking forward

It has been over a year and a half since I officially launched the Rights Evaluation Studio – and low and behold, it is only now (whilst on a plane, with no other distractions) that I have finally found time to bring our blog space to life. I am constantly encouraging the organisations I work with to make time and space to reflect on their work, achievements and challenges and I felt like it was time I did the same.  

The last 18 months have been unpredictable, exciting, and challenging to say the least (thanks for that, pandemic).  The pandemic brought both challenges and opportunities, and the experiences, learnings and people I have met during this time have filled me with inspiration.  Whilst I have missed the opportunities to get to meet NGO teams, colleagues, activists, researchers, experts and human rights defenders in person due to the travel and distancing restrictions,  I have been able to meet digitally to meet and reflect with some very interesting people over the past year. I have spoken with litigators and activists engaging in cutting edge human rights investigations, litigation and implementation work; journalists looking to shift the negative narratives and stereotypes affecting migration and minority groups; court officials and diplomats;  judges engaging in sentencing reform processes in Uganda; Roma rights activists seeking to document unconscious bias; and last but not least, dozens of committed and passionate NGO workers working to tackle today’s human rights challenges on national and global scales – these meetings are a constant source of drive and motivation. 

I’ve also been fortunate to be able to explore new ideas, methodologies and processes for tackling that forever unanswered impact measurement question (sorry, no magic bullet yet!); and have worked to bring the perspectives and voices of people with lived experience of human rights violations to the forefront of my evaluation work, which, without exception, continued to yield the most insightful evaluation data and perspectives for every evaluation I was involved in.

Personally, the year has been just as busy. In March 2021, I attended my graduation after securing a distinction in my master’s in Social Research and Law/Human rights. I spent months scraping data from court websites to build a dataset for a quantitative analysis exploring the relationship been judgment implementation and the rate of human rights violations lodged before the European Court of Human Rights – and a writing retreat in Portugal to give me time to focus on my thesis resulted in me moving there! (And yes, for some reason it seemed sensible to study for my masters, start a consultancy business and move countries at the same time – all with the backdrop of a pandemic to make it that little bit more complicated). 

“It is with a fresh breath of life that RES will continue to develop its offering to help support NGO’s to do what they do best!

Having had some time to decompress, it is with a fresh breath of life that RES will continue to develop its offering to help support NGO’s to do what they do best! Over the next year we want to continue to expand our services, provide resources and blog content and develop more creative methodologies for evaluation in human rights – so watch this space!  

To help bring RES into the next phase, I am also very pleased to announce that RES’s first official staff member (excluding me!) started this month – Hugh Atkinson, our Research and Evaluation Associate, will be helping to increase our capacity, working across a range of our evaluation projects. You can read more about Hugh here.  

“I would like to thank all of the wonderful individuals and organizations that I have gotten to work with over the past 18 months”

Finally, I would like to thank all of the wonderful individuals and organizations that I have gotten to work with over the past 18 months – thank you for your time, openness, expertise and hard work – it is a privilege to get to spend my days learning from each and every one of you! 

Do you have an impact measurement challenge you’d like us to help tackle? an evaluation challenge you’ve been trying to overcome? Let us know – we are always interested in understanding these challenges better and helping to find creative solutions to them. You can reach us on admin[at]rightsevaluation.studio  

Tackling the impact measurement challenge in strategic litigation

Over the last year or so, I’ve been working with the Digital Freedom Fund to develop and pilot a new framework for impact and outcome assessment for strategic litigation and digital rights.

You can check out my blog on their website which describes the process of developing the framework and our first steps in bringing it to life: https://digitalfreedomfund.org/tackling-the-impact-measurement-challenge/.

The framework is rooted in a methodology called “Outcomes Harvesting”. Using existing tools and methods and adapting them to a human rights context can help us to develop more meaningful approaches for the human rights field to better understand and demonstrate their impact. Check out the blog for further information or feel free to reach out directly if you would like to know more about this framework, or to discuss how the Rights Evaluation Studio can help your organisation to measure results and impact.