2.2. Applying a WEEGE Lens to ADS 205

Promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls around the world is critical to achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives and development outcomes. USAID recognizes that gender inequalities around the world often preclude women from engaging in development interventions, participating in the labor market, and accessing opportunities for growth. Women face unique social and structural barriers compared to men, such as: unequal land and property rights, which contribute to lower rates of asset ownership; unequal access to productive resources and inputs; and disproportionate responsibilities for unpaid household work, which limits their time to invest in profitable activities.  Gender equality is thus a key consideration in making programming impactful and sustainable.

USAID codifies its commitment to the integration of gender equality and female empowerment through ADS 205. This ADS chapter presents five domains1  that form the cornerstone of USAID’s approach to gender-responsive programming, and specifically to gender analyses.  The five domains are:

  • laws, policies, regulations, and institutional practices
  • cultural norms and beliefs
  • gender roles, responsibilities, and time use
  • access to and control over assets and resources
  • patterns of power and decision-making
Box 1: WEEGE Integration in the Gender Analysis
  • The gender analysis is a critical starting point for USAID’s gender-responsive and WEEGE work across the Program Cycle, providing historical and current data on gender dynamics, gaps, and opportunities. It offers an evidence base from which USAID technical, operational and acquisition staff can make informed decisions on WEEGE.
  • For instance, a gender analysis that intentionally examines WEEGE provides contextual understanding to develop USAID’s regional or country-level strategic development approach and objectives. It also unlocks the potential to systematically address women’s economic empowerment in a sustainable manner.

Integrating WEEGE into the five ADS domains and subsequent analyses will assist USAID staff and partners in identifying the opportunities and constraints related to WEEGE; refer to Box 1 for further information on WEEGE integration in the gender analysis. The inclusion of WEEGE into the Program Cycle is critical to designing and implementing development interventions that address root causes of, the barriers to, and the opportunities for empowerment that exist in each of the subsystems of the economy—whether at the household, community, workplace, institutional or policy level. Table 1 summarizes the ADS 205 domains, along with guidance on how to integrate WEEGE into each domain and examples of programming where a WEEGE lens has been applied. Refer to Box 2 for additional information available in Unit 2 resources.


This table lists examples of “Laws, Policies, Regulations, and Institutional Practices” under “ADS 205 Domains” then “+WEEGE Dimension” then gives an “Example.” This repeats for “Cultural Norms and Beliefs”, “Gender Roles, Responsibilities, and Time Use”, “Access to and Control over Assets and Resources”, and “Patterns of Power and Decision-making”.
Box 2: Interested in Learning More About WEEGE?
  • A vast body of resources has been compiled on WEEGE to help ensure that donors and implementing partners can design effective and measurable interventions. See Resources 1-7 for an extensive WEEGE repository of documents. Embedded within this repository are examples of successful initiatives within the private sector; suggested legal, regulatory and policy recommendations; and resources on assets, decent work and income, finance, human capital and markets.

WEEGE Principles

The WEEGE Principles (refer to Box 3), developed in consultation with internal and external USAID stakeholders,2 offer practical guidance for Mission directors, program and technical officers, and acquisitions professionals to help ensure that WEEGE is integrated in USAID programming. The 10 principles are more fully described in Tool 1: WEEGE Principles Checklist. The WEEGE Principles Checklist includes key guidance for each of the 10 principles tailored to every stage of the USAID Program Cycle, offering staff and implementers a user-friendly tool for integrating WEEGE. (See Tool 1: WEEGE Principles Checklist.)

Box 3: WEEGE Principles
  • Understand the systems
  • Amplify women’s voices
  • Be specific
  • Engage men and boys
  • Collaborate
  • Establish the evidence
  • Address gender-based violence
  • Partner with women
  • Walk the talk
  • Embrace emerging innovation


  • 1Refer to ADS 205.3.2, What is Gender Analysis? for further description of the five domains.
  • 2Funded by USAID, FHI 360 carried out extensive stakeholder consultations to inform development of the WEEGE principles, including interviews with USAID staff, implementing partners, private sector representatives, academics, advocacy-focused non-governmental organizations, and other donors, as well as women-owned businesses and women’s networks around the world.