The Gender, Poverty and Foreign Assistance Working Group (GPFA), consisting of leading development, faith, humanitarian and human rights NGOs focused on elevating the role of gender across U.S. foreign assistance, welcomes the increased attention to women and girls in the new USAID Evaluation Policy, released last month by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Evaluation Policy rejuvenates past evaluation excellence at USAID by incorporating attention to gender across all relevant areas of evaluation, increasing USAID’s accountability to and its effectiveness in reaching both women and men living in poverty. Up to now, USAID has not consistently used gender-sensitive indicators and collected sex-disaggregated baseline data as part of its evaluation procedures.
“It is crucial for all U.S. assistance programs to take the needs and voices of women and girls into account, especially since women are the majority of the world’s poorest citizens,” said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide, which convenes the GPFA. “We welcome the fact that USAID is taking this approach to ensure that women truly benefit from all its efforts.”
The Evaluation Policy was released January 20th by USAID, just a day after it was announced in a major speech by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, in which he talked about this and other reforms to put the agency on a path to be more accountable, transparent, and results-oriented. The policy is a key measure in that it encourages participation by partner governments and civil society and will require the release of all evaluation results, now conducted by independent third parties, within three months of completion, regardless of success or failure. The policy is another forward step in recognizing the central role of women and girls in effective development, after the release of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in December, which integrated gender across the breadth of U.S. foreign policy.
GPFA understands that the true test of these good intentions lies in implementation. Close partnerships with women and men in local communities, in addition to civil society on the ground and national governments, will be needed for optimal accountability. GPFA will work to ensure that these reforms result in a meaningful improvement in the lives of women, men, girls and boys living in poverty around the world.