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Kirsty Milward

Kirsty Milward has nearly 20 years’ experience combining organisational leadership and project management in adivasi (indigenous) education in rural India, with independent consultancy assignments conducting and managing research and evaluation.

Kirsty’s assignments have focused on gender, women’s economic empowerment, the enabling environment for (young) women, citizenship and rights, education, and Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).  She has excellent technical skills in the design and implementation of qualitative evaluation, research and documentation processes for complex programmes, and in analysis of qualitative material using both well established and innovative methods. Kirsty has particularly strong writing and has contributed to a number of publications. She also has excellent skills in facilitating analysis and learning at organisational and community levels, using a range of participatory methods.

She has a long-term interest in participatory and bottom-up development processes, and in how community-level collective action can contribute to these. Publications include “Organising Women Workers in the Informal Economy” with co-editors Naila Kabeer and Ratna Sudarshan; “Promising Pathways: Innovation and Best Practice in CLTS at Scale in Madagascar” and “Gender Mainstreaming Critiques: Signposts or Dead Ends?” with Franz Wong and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay.

Recent research and evaluation assignments have included leading a study designed to consolidate knowledge for DFID’s complex Voices For Change programme in Nigeria; leading a 3 year evaluation of the Australian Governments Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development programme, leading a review of implementation of DFID’s policy, the Strategic Vision for Girls and Women; thematic research to inform the design of DFID’s Ligada programme working on women’s economic empowerment in Mozambique; and  leading mixed methods research on best practices in CLTS in Madagascar.

Languages: English, Bangla, French and German
Country Experience:

Bangladesh, China, El Salvador, Fiji, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, South Korea, Thailand


MA Gender and Development
IDS and University of Sussex
BA (1st class honours) Philosophy and German
University of Bristol


2007 - Ongoing
Independent Consultant
Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands and Itad, UK
Independent consultant in research and evaluation including 2007-14 series of assignments with Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands and 2014-17 series of assignments with Itad, UK.
2004 - Ongoing
Founder and Lead Facilitator
Suchana Uttor Chandipur Community Society Birbhum, West Bengal, India
Working in education with adivasi communities.
1997 - 2007
Freelance Editor and Writer
Working with leading academics and practitioners in Gender and Development.
1994 - 1996
Gender Specialist Research Assistant
Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK
In-house and short courses.

Project Experience:

2015 - 2017
Voices for Change
(DFID/Palladium) - Itad M&E Team Member
Project: Voices for Change is an innovative and complex DFID-funded programme working to strengthen the enabling environment for the empowerment of young women in Nigeria from 2013-2017 using a social norms approach involving developing a brand and media products to deliver it, alongside intensive direct intervention on gender equality among a smaller group of participants.
Role: As part of an Itad M&E team, 1) Designed and led a ‘How Change Happens’ study during project close (2017) which set out to assess the programme’s Theory of Change against evidence and understanding of change processes experienced by participants. This included looking at the processes linking the media interventions with the intensive work on personal transformation to develop insights into the causal processes put into play.
2) Led a Theory of Change ‘thinkshop’ (2016) , to reflect on implementation experience and accumulating knowledge and to facilitate the evolution of the Theory of Change on this basis.
3) Scoped and designed an internal evaluation (2015) planned to inform Phase II of the project in late 2016. The evaluation set out to use a contribution analysis to interrogate the theory of change, seeking evidence for how far the bundled interventions of the project are working to empower adolescent girls.

2015 - 2017
Mozambique: Scoping Research: Review for Ligada
(DFID/Oxford Policy Management) - Independent consultant
Project: Ligada is a major DFID-funded programme working on Female Economic Empowerment among young women in urban Mozambique implemented by Oxford Policy Management from 2016.
Role: Responsible for selection and review of literature and preparation of a series of thematic Briefing Papers, tailored to inform key questions concerning the design of the programme during its inception phase. These include reviewing work on social norms and FEE; working with men and boys for FEE, gender and business incubators, urbanization, gender and infrastructure, skills for schools and work, arts-based approaches to FEE, gender and value chains.

The Pacific: Evaluation of Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development
(DFAT/Cardno) - Team Leader
Project: Pacific Women is a major Australian government funded programme working in 14 countries across the Pacific on gender equality and women’s empowerment across the 4 outcome areas of women’s economic empowerment, women’s leadership, violence against women, and enhancing agency.
Role: Team leader of an Itad team designing and implementing a 3 year evaluation of the programme. The evaluation used a theory based approach and analysis took place at country case study level – with case studies in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Kiribati – followed by a synthesis stage at whole-programme level.

2013 - Ongoing
India: Project implementation: Integrated Technology in Education
(Tata Trusts and Suchana) - Independent consultant
Project: Suchana is a lead partner in the Tata Trust’s ITE project which places teachers as leaders in integrating technology into curricula-based learning among disadvantaged children across India.
Role: Managed and led the project in Suchana among adivasi children in rural West Bengal, and managed the partnership relationship between Tata Trust and Suchana, articulating insights from new implementation to the overall project policy and direction.

2014 - 2015
UK: Policy Implementation Review of DFID’s Strategic Vision for Girls and Women
(DFID) - Team Leader
Project: Qualitative study into the operationalisation of the Strategic Vision across DFID from 2011-15 to signpost strengths of the policy and process and weaker areas for further attention.
Role: Team leader of Itad team. Led the design and methodology development of the study; managed and carried out data collection; co-ordinated data analysis and documentation of findings.

2013 - 2014
Madagascar: Best practice review of Community Led Total Sanitation
(CLTS) - Co-leader
Project: Research and analysis undertaken by CLTS Foundation to identify successful, innovative and promising strategies for scaling up CLTS in the FAA (GSF) project across Madagascar.
Role: Co-leader in the design and conducting of research at community, partner organization and national levels, using semi structured interview; FDGs; participatory Most Significant Change analysis; actor profile Case Studies. Lead author for principal publication. A key purpose of the approach was to generate and articulate learning among the implementing team.

Malawi, El Salvador: Independent Progress Review of Plan UK’s PPA, with a focus on Building Skills for Life – Girls’ Education project
(Plan UK) - Team Leader
Project: Multi-country and organisation wide progress review of Plan UK’s PPA agreement with DFID, funding organisational strategy inputs in UK and part of Building Skills for Life, a project focused on adolescent girls’ education and strategies to address gender inequality in communities
Role: Team Leader of Ipsos Mori team - designed and managed overall research, analysis and presentation of findings. Undertook field visits assessing projects in Plan El Salvador and Plan Malawi.

2012 - 2014
Nepal: Evaluation of UNV Volunteer Infrastructure
(United Nations Volunteers) - Independent consultant
Project: Complex, thematic evaluation by Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT), University of Wolverhampton, of UNV contribution to volunteer infrastructure globally to assess evidence of UNV’s unique position and bring grassroots learning and experience to organisational strategic planning process.
Role: Responsible for Nepal research and field mission using participatory methods to evaluate UNV nested project placing 100 volunteers in the multi-donor Local Governance and Community Development Programme seeking greater participation by marginalised groups.

2009 - 2012
India and others: Organising Women Workers in the Informal Economy
(Pathways of Women’s Empowerment RPC) - Co-ordinator of Writing and Editing Process
Project: Research into strategies used by organizations to successfully build the rights of women working in the informal economy including waste pickers, farm workers, sex workers and domestic workers in India, Brazil, Thailand and South Africa.
Role: Co-ordinator of writing and editing process. Undertook research and facilitation of analysis by activists of organizational process and strategies for the advancement of working women’s rights, mainly in Maharashtra and Karnataka, India.

2009 - 2010
Bangladesh, India, Philippines: Evaluation of One World Action’s PPA with DFID
(One World Action) - Asia Specialist
Project: Final evaluation conducted by CIDT, University of Wolverhampton, of OWA projects focused on strategies for increasing women’s participation in governance and extension of women’s rights.
Role: Asia Specialist responsible for research and field visits in India (SEWA India), Bangladesh (Nagorik Uddyog) and Philippines to assess OWA contributions to partner’s work in extending women’s’ rights.

2007 - 2014
India, Nepal, Pakistan Gender Knowledge and Development Governmentalities in South Asia
(Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Netherlands) - Independent consultant
Project: Developing theoretical and analytical frameworks applying governmentality concepts to feminist work in development in South Asia though a series of international conferences and development of discussion papers.
Role: Co-coordinated and documented two international conferences to develop insight and analysis from a local perspective. Facilitated analysis and development of written material by feminist activists in South Asia.

Netherlands: Gender and Rights Capacity Building Program
(Plan International) - Consultant to Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)
Project: Developed a theoretical and programme-related framework and learning architecture for coherent gender and rights work in Plan International
Role: Consultant to Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Netherlands to create programme-tailored sector-based How-to Guides for policy implementation of a gender and rights approach in all areas of Plan International’s work, including education.

2009 - 2013
Netherlands: Gender and Rights Resource Guide
(GENDERNET) - Consultant to Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)
Project: developed a framework to guide understanding and contextualising gender and rights for NGOs concerned to enhance a gender perspective on RBAs.
Role: Consultant to Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Netherlands – collaborated in developing the analytical framework and approach to understanding gender and rights. Created sector-specific Issues Briefs on Gender, Rights and Natural Resource Management; Gender, Rights and GBV during Conflict; Gender, Rights and Children; and Gender, Rights and Women’s Political Participation.

Gender Inequality and Poverty in East Asia
(Oxfam GB) - Independent consultant
Role: Desk research and writing of overview paper on the intersections of gender and poverty as manifested in East Asia.
India: Convergence of HIV and SRH Services
(PATH) - Independent consultant
Project: PATH Convergence Project seeking analytical basis and strategies for greater co-ordination of HIV and SRH services across India.
Role: Desk research and writing of paper on “SRH rights for HIV affected populations: Impacts on and implications for key populations”.

UK: Science and Technology 5 year review
(Commonwealth Secretariat) - Gender Specialist Research Assistant
Project: Internal Evaluation undertaken by Strategic Planning and Evaluation Unit, Commonwealth Secretariat, London
Role: Gender specialist research assistant on evaluation team.

UK: Gender and Health Focal Point mid-term review
(Commonwealth Secretariat) - Gender Specialist Research Assistant
Project: Internal Evaluation undertaken by Strategic Planning and Evaluation Unit, Commonwealth Secretariat, London
Role: Gender specialist research assistant on evaluation team.

2004 - Ongoing
Birbhum, West Bengal, India: Suchana Uttor Chandipur Community Society
() - Founder and Lead Facilitator
Volunteer Experience Project: Suchana is a Scheduled Tribe / adivasi majority community organisation working in Birbhum, West Bengal, India on education for previously excluded communities. The organization has a strong gender equality focus and runs eight programmes involving 1800 children. It has developed multilingual and multicultural ways of working, strong local leadership, and has particular strengths in experimental approaches to integrating technology use to support the learning of marginalised groups.
Role: Founder and lead facilitator. Responsibilities include driving the innovative educational approach, building organisational management architecture, establishing gender awareness, management of research for evidence building, management of review processes, participatory objective setting, proposal development, publicity and communications.
Specific tasks have included gender training, teacher training, data management, building local public relations, and securing medium term funding for this small but flourishing community organisation which has achieved a reputation for innovative, girl-friendly, adivasi-focused education initiatives.


  • Gender Mainstreaming Critiques: Signposts or Dead Ends? (2015)
    IDS Bulletin Special Issue: Beijing + 20: Where Now for Gender Equality? 46 (4) pp.75-81, July
    Kirsty Milward, Franz Wong and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay

  • Promising Pathways: Innovations and Best Practices in Community Led Total Sanitation at Scale in Madagascar (2014)
    Global Sanitation Fund and CLTS Foundation

  • Organising Women Workers in the Informal Economy: Beyond the Weapons of the Weak (2013)
    Zed Books, Feminisms and Development Series
    Naila Kabeer, Ratna Sudarshan and Kirsty Milward

  • Organising Women Workers in the Informal Economy (2013)
    Gender & Development Volume 21 Issue 2 “Feminist solidarity and collective action
    Naila Kabeer, Kirsty Milward and Ratna Sudarshan

  • Digging in, Spreading Out and Growing Up: Introducing CLTS in Africa (2011)
    IDS Practice Paper 8
    Co-author with Kamal Kar

  • Gender and rights: a resource guide (2010 and 2013)
    Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands
    Co-author with Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay and Chris Hunter

  • Report of the South Asia region conference on gender knowledge production and dissemination in development 30-31 January, Kathmandu, Nepal (2009)
    Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands
    Kirsty Milward

  • Revisiting studies and training in gender and development – the making and re-making of gender knowledge: Report from the international KIT conference (2007)
    Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands
    Kirsty Milward

  • Gender Inequality and Poverty Trends, Linkages, Analysis and Policy Implications (1997)
    IDS BRIDGE Report 30
    Sally Baden with Kirsty Milward

  • Gender, Household Food Security and Coping Strategies (1996)
    IDS Development Bibliography 14
    Julie Koch Laier, Susanna Davies, Kirsty Milward and Jane Kennan