This monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) unit is based on the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Automated Directives Systems (ADS) 201 and ADS 205 (refer to Figure 1). It explains the process of incorporating women’s economic empowerment and gender equality (WEEGE) into all levels of MEL planning, including within regional development cooperation strategies (RDCS), country development cooperation strategies (CDCS), optional project development documents (PDD) and activity design and implementation. Although it is best to incorporate WEEGE in initial MEL planning and development phases, it is useful to review current strategies, projects and activities as well to ensure that WEEGE is addressed in MEL documents.
Figure 1. Integrating WEEGE into USAID’s Program Cycle
Integrating WEEGE into the MEL system requires: thinking about what USAID seeks to achieve in the communities where the activities will be implemented; identifying WEEGE information that is available or that needs to be gathered; assessing the status of WEEGE in the relevant development sectors; and determining how to measure and evaluate whether WEEGE has been strengthened. Regardless of which level the performance management plan (PMP) or MEL plan is being created for—i.e., the strategy, project or activity level—these plans should be consistent with the highest-level planning available at the Mission, usually the CDCS or RDCS.
WEEGE should be clearly integrated in the theory of change, and at least one development objective (DO), intermediate result (IR) or sub-IR and indicator should be WEEGE-specific. In cases where WEEGE has not been included in the results frameworks or MEL plan, WEEGE can be integrated by: revising MEL plans to add new WEEGE-specific indicators; strengthening collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) around WEEGE; and conducting a gender analysis with a WEEGE lens. For details on conducting a gender analysis with a WEEGE lens, refer to Unit 3, Toolbox: Integrating WEEGE into a Gender Analysis.
Articulating WEEGE throughout all levels of MEL planning helps ensure continuous WEEGE learning that identifies lessons and good practices to improve existing work and to plan for future WEEGE-integrated programming. (Select this link to USAID Learning Lab for general MEL resources.) At the CDCS or RDCS level, the Mission determines overall priorities and approaches to MEL, as well as a timeline for completion of the PMP and results framework.
At the optional project level, the PDD may include a MEL plan, which should build from the CDCS or RDCS PMP and describe how the project team plans to collect, organize, analyze and apply learning gained from monitoring and evaluation data and other sources.
At the activity level, the MEL plan must be in place before major implementation begins and should be consistent with the CDCS or RDCS PMP, PDD and any other Mission expectations.1
This unit provides lessons and guidance applicable at all levels of MEL planning, to ensure that WEEGE impact is measured and captured throughout the program cycle. Examples are provided for specific planning stages—strategy, project or activity level—to illustrate how this guidance can be applied.
This unit will address how to:
- understand WEEGE opportunities and challenges in MEL
- utilize WEEGE resources to inform a PMP or MEL plan
- integrate WEEGE into the theory of change (ToC)
- establish WEEGE-specific DOs, IRs and/or sub-IRs
- develop and select WEEGE-specific indicators
- integrate WEEGE into PMP or MEL plans
- collaborate, learn and adapt to advance WEEGE
Box 1: How to Apply WEEGE Principles in MEL
WEEGE Principle 2: Amplify Women’s Voices
WEEGE Principle 3: Be Specific
WEEGE Principle 6: Establish the Evidence
The principles underpinning WEEGE (refer to Box 1 for examples) can also help to drive MEL planning. Refer to Unit 2, Tool I: WEEGE Principles Checklist for a detailed discussion of the principles.)
- 1When working with implementing partners, keep in mind that they may use terms differently, so it is important to define and clarify them. Implementing partners often refer to USAID “activities” as projects or programs and don’t have a specific way to refer to what USAID calls a “project.”
- 2Refer to ADS 201 for detailed explanations of outcomes, inputs and outputs.