On July 7, 2019, I got the chance to attend an all-star panel featuring the following representatives:

  • Wade Channell, Senior Economic Growth Advisor, USAID
  • Caren Grown, Senior Director, Gender, World Bank Group
  • Elise Young, Senior Technical Advisor for Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, FHI 360

The event specifically highlighted the role of women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in development projects and discussed some of the considerations for women’s economic empowerment.  While it may be relevant to just a few but what stood out for me was designing the theory of change for a WEE program and the following were some of the key takeaways.

What are the most important components of a women economic empowerment Theory of Change?

  • linearity & contextualization
  • access (to resources: work, assets, income) agency (power in the collective groups) & leadership (formalized / informalized)
  • risk mitigation
  • enabling environment (laws and systems in place, the policies to promote equity)
  • bargaining power and theories
  • the gender norm issues
  • capabilities, resources, ability, meaningful participation

According to the panelists, the above-mentioned considerations should be used to assess the state of empowerment and gender parity and to identify key areas in which empowerment needs to be strengthened and to track progress over time.

The above may not be an exhaustive list but what it does is lead into other points of discussion – What do evaluators need to be mindful of? What has worked well in evaluations of such programs to date? And where is there room for improvement?