Research and Programming: Tensions, Learning, and Compromise from Tipping Point’s RCT Evaluation

In a recent two-part blog series on CARE Insights, Tipping Point’s project director Anne Sprinkel, our Nepal team lead Dipendra Sharma, and our research partners at Emory University share some reflections about balancing the needs of an RCT and a heavy implementation package.

Randomized Control Trials and the Tipping Point Initiative’s Journey to Align the Gold Standard with our Mission

When we joined CARE’s Failing Forward podcast, we had little idea that we would discuss everything from logistical nightmares to ethical conundrums related to Tipping Point’s Phase 2 research study. On air. Live. And the day after the famous “Randomistas”, Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, and Michael Kremer, were awarded a Nobel Prize in economics for their use of experimental methods in evaluation – also known as the randomized control trial (RCT). See the full blog here

 Tensions and Learnings in Research Program Partnerships Undertaking RCTs

In this response, Cari Jo Clark and Kathryn Yount (Emory University) and Sudhindra Sharma (IDA) responds with reflections on the possibilities and tensions of RCT designs to evaluate programs designed to prevent critical social problems that primarily affect girls and women—such as child, early and forced marriage and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV). Discussions about RCTs are underway in various fields, including in a special series in the journal World Development. The field of GBV prevention has not yet had the same level of public debate, so they share a contribution here. See the full blog here.

Tipping Point Spotlight- February 2020

Welcome to the first Spotlight of 2020! In this issue, you will find a recap of our Phase 3 Learning and Design Workshop , where many of us came together to learn from each other and look forward to the next four years of the initiative. Additionally, our member spotlight is with Rawnak Jahan of CARE Bangladesh. We’ve also included a brief overview of the baseline studies from Nepal and Bangladesh . Finally, there are a few program updates and resources. Keep reading to see what we’ve been up to at Tipping Point! Sincerely,Tipping Point Global teammates

Phase 3 Learning and Design Workshop

From January 27-31, Tipping Point teammates from across the globe gathered with movement actors, program participants, and colleagues from across the CARE federation to learn about girl-led movement building, cast vision for Phase 3 , and sketch activities surrounding three key areas of work: Influencing how CARE approaches girls’ rights programming, influencing governments and donors to invest in evidence-based and root cause approaches, and increasing girls’ visibility and participation in movements. The workshop generated a series of strategic objectives that will contribute to the success of these workstreams in Phase 3 (July 2020 – December 2023). 

Staff Spotlight: Rawnak Jahan

Rawnak holds a master’s degree in Law and has vast experience working in NGOs, INGOs and Regional Organizations on development and women rights. In her professional life at different organizations she has designed, implemented, and monitored different events for promoting of women rights. She has led and participates in a variety of policy enactment movements in Bangladesh, including coordination of the CIDV (Citizen’s Initiative against Domestic Violence), a coalition of more than 25 women rights organizations for enactment and implementation of Domestic Violence Protection and Prevention Act. Rawnak’s passion is to fight against the discrimination and oppression of women, and we are privileged that she is a key member of the Tipping Point team. You can see Rawnak discussing Tipping Point with Laurie Lee, the CEO of CARE UK in this video.
1.       What do you do in your position? What’s the most motivating part of your work with Tipping Point?
Currently I am leading the TP Bangladesh team. Generally, I coordinate team members, partners, and our CARE USA counterparts. One of my main responsibilities is organizing and coordinating advocacy initiatives at different levels. My work involves identifying and developing advocacy strategies in coordination with other stakeholders, conducting policy and context analysis, identifying influencing opportunities through key partners or coalitions. I represent Tipping Point in different national networks like Girls Not Bride Bangladesh, Citizens Initiative against Domestic Violence and Men Engagement Alliance. I also lead a process to identify key advocacy issues that are very relevant to bring about a change in social norms and policy improvements for preventing child marriage. Additionally, I support my team for smooth implementation of planned activities. The position also involves working as a senior team member to lead, organize and mainstream gender in all initiatives.

Read more of Rawnak’s interview here

Baseline Studies: The Context of Program areas

The results are in! Tipping Points’ RCT baseline evaluation is ready. Kudos to Shikha Sunuwar and Rajan Subedi at CARE Nepal, Mahmud Khan at CARE Bangladesh, Sadhvi Kalra at CARE USA, and our partners at icddr,b, GBK, Emory University, Interdisciplinary Analysts, DSDC and SSS for making these products possible.If you missed our Learning Xchange webinar on the findings, have a listen!

Read Phase 2 Evaluation Reports here

We hope you enjoyed the resources, updates, and staff insights from this edition of Spotlight. As always, if you have any ideas, inputs, resources, or updates that you want included here or in the Learning Xchange, please let us know so that it can be arranged

Initiative Updates

  1. Each country team has developed a map of policy opportunities and a SWOT analysis to prioritize strategies and targets for Phase 3 based on a thorough understanding of their respective context
  2. Girl-led movement groups have now launched in all program areas. In Rangpur (Bangladesh), the girl activists have chosen to advocate for their voices to be heard. In Kapilvastu and Rupandehi (Nepal), the girl activists have chosen to advocate for increased mobility.
  3. Attendance in Tipping Point groups is generally improving, thanks to innovations from the teams on the ground, including snacks for the fathers, adjusting session time and pairing participants together for accountability.

News and resources

  1. Make sure you check out the CIGN Position Paper on Supporting women’s social movements and collective actions. As we plan the next phase of Tipping Point, let’s consider how we can be a convener, ally, resource partner, and amplifier of movements that strive for girls’ rights.
  2. Since the last issue of Spotlight, Tipping Point team members have been busy writing to communicate the program’s impact. Some recent reads include Suraiya Sultana’s Story of Change about how a program participant improved her relationship with her mother, and Suniti Neogy’s blog about how even the most motivated field staff working on sexual and reproductive health and rights can at times get caught in a conflict between their own values and the prevalent socio-cultural norms that control adolescent girls’ sexuality. 
  3. While at the Learning & Design workshop, a couple of us spoke and we learned about feminist slam poetry in Nepal. It is, an inspiring way that the feminist movement is expressed in Kathmandu., To share the inspiration, check out this video of Ashmina Ranjit collaborating with poet Gunjan Dixit on Day 2 of Collaborative Artivism: Silence No Longer in 2018. Gunjan performs Eve Ensler’s poem “Bodies”.

Adolescent Sexuality – Values and Conflicts in the Field

Suniti Neogy, Tipping Point’s Gender Advisor, recently had another opportunity to contribute to Tarshi’s In Plainspeak online magazine. In this op-ed, Suniti discusses how even the most motivated field staff working on sexual and reproductive health and rights can at times get caught in a conflict between their own values and the prevalent socio-cultural norms. Access the blog via the link below, or click here for past contributions of Tipping Point Staff to Tarshi publications

CEFM Learning Xchange December 2019

Welcome back to the biannual CEFM Learning Xchange Newsletter! In this edition, we’re sharing a webinar about applying theory to practice with social norms programming, a new podcast about learning from failure in CEFM research, a girls’ activist curriculum and other ready-to-use program and evaluation tools, updates from SVRI, and some inspiration to keep you going in this journey. Please peruse and enjoy!

You can stay engaged with the CEFM Learning Xchange through workplace, this listserv and our webinars.

In Solidarity,

Tipping Point Initiative

Lessons Learned: RCTs and Communities

Listen to the latest episode of CARE Failing Forward, in which Dipendra Sharma (Team Lead, Tipping Point, Nepal) and Anne Sprinkel (Project Director, Tipping Point) discuss their experience with the Phase 2 randomized control trial (RCT) to evaluate Tipping Point, and the risks of sacrificing communities’ needs to fulfill the methodological demands of research.

Featured Resource: Girls Not Brides’ Stand Up, Speak Out Activist Training

Young people are the most affected by child marriage: we are not going to end this harmful practice without them. Girls Not Brides developed a youth activism training program, called “Stand Up, Speak Out”. These training resources (available in English and Hindi) offer you a carefully planned series of workshops, all designed to empower young people; both by building knowledge around child marriage and by strengthening the skills they need to become powerful change makers.

Promising Practices and Resources

Videos about working with adolescents to prevent child marriage in the MENA region (Arabic with English subtitles)

CARE has an established global expertise on ASRH programming through the CARE Global SRHR team. The MENA team also has developed and tracked the Impact Growth Strategy “The Future She Deserves”; along with an online platform of ASRH tools and approaches used in humanitarian context. In addition, MENA has produced several videos to inform adolescents on ASRH topics and initiate dialogue with their parents and community members; conducted research in crisis effected countries on CEFM through the CARE Tipping Point Project; piloted Young Mothers Club project implemented by the Northern Syria team in collaboration with UNFPA and its local partner, Syria Relief and Development and the Inter-Agency Working Group for SRH in Crisis-Settings engagement.

In these videos, Community Ambassadors are discussing how they engage with adolescents and the communities to prevent child marriage, and help mitigate the negative effects of CEFM. These videos address everything from SRHR to education. The link also contains a learning brief on ASRH in MENA.

Tipping Point’s Participant Manuals, M&E Methods Briefs, and Evaluation Tools

Tipping Point has produced integrated implementation manuals following our core program pillars of girls’ movement building, social norms, adolescent SRHR, and alternatives for girls. The first of a series of manuals is now available here. Coming soon: religious leaders, boy activists, adolescent VSLA and more!

Additionally, Tipping Point has just released a series of monitoring and evaluation methods briefs that detail how to use feminist and developmental evaluation methods to assess social norms change. Check them out here! Stay tuned for more!

Finally, our Phase 2 mixed method evaluation tools are available for adaptation and use here. We hope that they are helpful as you work to also assess changes in gender inequitable social norms.

“Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?” Insights form Applying Theory to Norms Programming

This webinar helps explain how and why labor-intensive norms-informed interventions are worth the effort, and how you can do it for your programming. It also does a great job of showing how the theories and practice about gender norms and social norms can work together to create positive change. 



The Sexual Violence Research Initiative hosted their annual forum October 21-24, 2019. Several important discussions related to CEFM occurred, including a presentation on norms-shifting interventions through a side event for the Learning Collaborative for Normative Change by Tipping Point Project Director Anne Sprinkel.

The 3 takeaways that people working to end CEFM should take away from the SVRI conference are:

  1. Implementing gender transformative and social norms approaches in emergencies is hard – but that does not mean that we can’t or shouldn’t do it. Reach out to Ezgi Emri with CARE Turkey who can tell you more about integrating GBV and SRHR approaches in a complex context or Anne Sprinkel to hear about SASA! in Dadaab refugee camp.
  2. With so much talk about gender transformative approaches – amongst which CARE Rwanda’s Indashikyrwa was consistently highlighted – there was almost no discussion of Staff Transformation and its centrality to quality, sustainable, and credible programming with communities.
  3. Scale – both processes and outcomes – and costing are both incredibly important components to document and understand to influence our partners, peers, donors and governments. However, these areas of study are severely lacking in the world of violence against women and girls.

See other CARE Colleagues’ takeaways on the forum here.

Inspiration: Fuel for the fight

  1. Suraiya Sultana of CARE Bangladesh captured the story of Shawnpa (pictured below), an adolescent girl who was able to improve her family relationships and correct a misunderstanding due to reflection about sexual and reproductive rights. Read Shawnpa’s story here.
  1. 19-year-old Khadiza Akter Khushi led hundreds of people to the home of her soon-to-be husband. The walk is thought to be a first in a country where, for centuries, the opposite has happened: men have walked to the homes of their brides on their wedding day. For Khadiza and her husband it was, quite simply, the right thing to do. “It is a matter of women’s rights. Today, if a girl goes to marry a boy, then no one is harmed.” (BBC)