2.1. Overview

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Program Cycle, as codified in Automated Directives System (ADS) 201is the Agency’s operational model for planning, delivering, assessing, and adapting development programming to advance U.S. foreign policy. Integrating women’s economic empowerment and gender equality (WEEGE) considerations across the Program Cycle will support the Agency to more effectively develop strategies, projects, and activities, to allocate resources, and to establish clear results around WEEGE (illustrated in Figure 1). The objective of Unit 2 is to outline how USAID staff and partners can integrate WEEGE across the Program Cycle, guided by a set of WEEGE principles and using the ADS 205 as an underlying framework.

FIGURE 1. Integrating WEEGE into USAID’s Program Cycle


Integrating WEEGE into USAID’s Program Cycle is a circle. The innermost ring is ADS 205 Gender Analysis. The next ring is WEEGE Integration with icons for Markets, Assets, Human Capital, Decent Work and Income, and Finance.” The next ring is broken into the 4 program cycle parts. The outermost ring shows the 3 goals that come from integrating WEEGE: “All Individuals Fully Participate in and Benefit from their Communities and Countries,” “Societies Grow and Prosper,” and “Peace and Prosperity.”


Key Messages
  • Opportunities exist to address WEEGE at all levels of the USAID Program Cycle (such as in Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCSs); Performance Management Plans (PMPs); Project Development Documents (PDDs); Requests for Applications and Requests for Proposals; activity scopes of work; and monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) plans).
  • Integrating WEEGE considerations into the Program Cycle, specifically within the gender analysis process, provides critical data and a nuanced understanding of WEEEGE in a local context. Considering social norms and host-country priorities are necessary to address systemic constraints to WEEGE.
  • USAID staff and partners should apply WEEGE principles during all stages of the Program Cycle—including strategic planning, project and activity design, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

Units 3 through 6 of the WEEGE Technical Guide (briefly described below) will provide detailed guidance on how to maximize opportunities to include WEEGE into analysis, consultation, planning, design and M&E.

Unit 3: Integrating WEEGE into a Country Development Cooperation Strategy

The processes of developing a Regional Development Cooperation Strategy (RDCS) or a Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) can provide an opportunity to incorporate WEEGE into a Mission’s strategic decision-making, resource allocation, and priority-setting on gender equality, across multiple development objectives, sectors and cross-cutting themes.

Unit 4: Integrating WEEGE into Project Design and Implementation

Featuring WEEGE in a project’s theory of change and related purpose reinforces WEEGE’s importance, ensuring that its principles are aligned with the Mission’s results framework.

Unit 5: Integrating WEEGE into Activity Design and Implementation

By drawing on WEEGE evidence and learning, activity design and implementation can address constraints, identify advances, and dedicate resources to women’s economic empowerment and gender equality programming.

Unit 6: Integrating WEEGE into Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

By weaving WEEGE throughout theories of change and logic models, as well as strategic planning frameworks (such as CDCS results frameworks and performance management plans) and project and activity-level MEL plans, USAID can bolster its commitment to adaptive management practices that support women’s economic empowerment and gender equality.