6.1. Overview

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 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 highlights “Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning”. 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.”

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

  • Develop and report on performance indicators related to engaging women’s groups/networks/associations and their role in making progress on WEEGE. Help course correct when necessary.

WEEGE Principle 3: Be Specific

  • Define where WEEGE change is to take place (community, district/municipal, national, regional or international level), and with which actors (civil society, public sector, private sector, international organizations).
  • Regularly monitor and analyze specific WEEGE performance indicators to identify discrepancies between men and women in terms of access to services/trainings/inputs as well as outcomes.

WEEGE Principle 6: Establish the Evidence

  • Include WEEGE sex-disaggregated indicators at the strategy, project and activity-level that align to specific development objectives and results; ensure that staff and local partners have the capacity and resources for proper data collection.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of WEEGE strategies and interventions during annual portfolio reviews.

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.)


Key Messages
  • WEEGE should be grounded in the theory of change and related DOs, IRs and sub-IRs.
  • Both quantitative and qualitative methods may be used, depending on what type of information is needed and feasible to collect.
  • Include WEEGE-related outcome indicators, as well as input and output indicators.2
  • Establish evidence by integrating WEEGE into all MEL levels of the program cycle and partnering with institutions to better understand what activities or interventions contribute to WEEGE change.
  • Disaggregate data by sex for all people-level indicators.
  • Evaluations should examine the extent to which closing gender gaps has improved activity outcomes and whether the activity has transformed gender norms and reduced gender gaps for men and women across diverse sub-groups (e.g., different ages, people with disabilities, etc.).


  • 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.