Program Cycle Integration

USAID Operating Units must integrate the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy throughout the Program Cycle.

USAID Operating Units (OUs) must take intentional action to integrate impactful approaches to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout USAD’s Program Cycle and across sectors.  This includes in the development of Agency policies and strategies; the creation and iteration of Regional and Country Development Cooperation Strategies (R/CDCSs); the design and implementation of projects and activities that engage a wide range of stakeholders; and in monitoring, evaluation, and learning. 

The identification of specific gender equality results to be achieved is based on the findings of the required gender analyses and other relevant analyses (e.g., inclusive development analysis, political economy analysis, sector-specific analyses) that articulate the needs of and challenges facing women and girls, mean and boys and gender diverse individuals.

New Agency or Bureau-level initiatives developed outside of the Program Cycle should also include strategies designed to address the specific needs of women and girls and/or to close targeted gender gaps. 

Integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into USAID’s strategic planning and project/activity design processes can help improve sustainable development outcomes; however, integration alone does not ensure that Agency activities are addressing the most critical gender disparities or directing resources where they are most needed to empower women and girls.  Therefore, as needed, OUs should develop standalone Development Objectives (DOs) on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  In addition, all USAID OUs may invest in stand-alone projects and/or activities identified as strategically important for achieving gender equality. These DOs and related interventions will depend on the specific country context, but should be scalable and innovative, and link to broader sectoral and country programming designed to strengthen local institutions, build commitment and capacity, and strengthen the enabling environment for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

GenderLinks collects helpful resources related to incorporating gender and women’s empowerment throughout all into various stages of the  USAID Program Cycle.

More detailed information about the interface between gender integration and USAID Program Cycle and gender’s role in it can be found in ADS 205 and ADS 201:

The USAID Program Cycle is based on four foundational principles:

  • Apply analytic rigor: Make strategic choices based on conclusions supported by evidence.
  • Manage adaptively: Make adjustments in response to new information and context changes.
  • Promote sustainability: Generate lasting changes that can be sustained by local actors.
  • Utilize diverse approaches for increased flexibility: Use a range of modalities to address diverse development challenges.

Visit USAID Learning Lab for general help navigating the USAID Program Cycle.

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Gender Analysis

U.S. law requires that USAID strategies, projects, and activities are shaped by a gender analysis, which identifies the gender equality-related context, opportunities, and risks relevant to the intended development outcomes.