DRG TIG Week: DRG Evidence and MEL Insights into Academic and Practitioner Efforts to Improve Solutions for Women and Girls by Tanyel Taysi and Salome Tsereteli-Stephens

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We are Tanyel Taysi and Salome TsereteliStephens from the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. One of the programs our organization leads is Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Grameen Foundation, and Search for Common Ground (Search). WAGE works to advance the status of women and girls based on a growing body of evidence that democracy benefits when all members of society, not only the most visible, are included and able to participate in political, civic, and economic life and seek and obtain justice when their rights are violated. Many countries still fall short of these standards, especially where marginalized/vulnerable population groups, including women and girls, are concerned. We want to share some lessons learned from implementing WAGE.

Lessons Learned

Programs must offer integrated solutions.

Unequal power relationships informed by intersecting systems of oppression, including those manifesting as Gender-Based Violence (GBV), prevent women from fully participating in society and the economy. While lack of economic opportunity exacerbates women’s vulnerability to GBV, Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) may expose women to a higher risk of GBV as an unintended consequence (due to shifts in power dynamics in households when women’s income increases). Yet, most business associations, microfinance institutions, and other economic strengthening civil society organizations (CSOs) are not accustomed to looking at GBV as a barrier to WEE or a potential negative consequence of WEE and women’s empowerment CSOs including those that work on GBV prevention and response are not used to looking at GBV through the economic empowerment prism.

Solutions must be locally contextualized and implemented across levels of analysis.

National level analysis or replicating what worked in a different context is not sufficient for understanding community level barriers and needs, and the lived experiences of those who experience marginalization. Formal and informal policies, practices, and perceptions such as norms, discourse, discrimination, social stigma, and stereotypes that operate at the individual, family, community, societal, and institutional level that codify, normalize and reinforce the exclusion that leads to persistent inequality and adversity. These must be accounted for in programming, as issues rarely occur as the result of one barrier.

Practitioners and academics are eager to collaborate.

We’ve established that there is keen interest in bridging the academic-practitioner divide to share lessons, insights, and ideas to solve some of the most pressing questions of our time.

Rad Resources

Guide for Gender-Based Violence Program in Low-Resource Settings

USAID’s Guide for Gender-Based Violence Program in Low-Resource Settings and a discussion about integration in various spheres are helpful tools for exploring integration for practitioners.

Rapid Needs Assessment

WAGE has developed a Rapid Needs Assessment tool to expand initial planning completed by the program design teams around the specific WAGE intervention. Using primarily qualitative methods (focus groups, key informant interviews, and limited targeted surveys), it is conducted in specific target locations at multiple levels of analysis across domains to inform the crafting of gender transformative solutions. This framework contextualizes and validates the initial program design, theory of change, and Preliminary Gender & Inclusion Analyses by examining multiple and interwoven barriers and opportunities to women’s and girls’ empowerment within the country of implementation.

Wage Learning Agenda

WAGE has created an Advisory Group and Network (AG&N) – a community of practice for practitioners and academics, to advance the WAGE Learning Agenda. The AG&N promotes collaborative research and learning to build a body of evidence of promising practices in integrated approaches to solutions for Gender Based Violence, Women, Peace and Security, and Women’s Economic Empowerment. WAGE’s learning agenda prioritizes research questions that the WAGE consortium seeks to answer.


The American Evaluation Association is hosting Democracy, Human Rights & Governance TIG Week with our colleagues in the Democracy, Human Rights & Governance Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DRG TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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