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Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Measurement

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Tools selection must be rooted firmly in the research framework and key questions for the study. (For guidance on design and planning - see pages in the"Preparation" section).
This page provides 3 sections on tool selection for monitoring, evaluation and impact measurement/monitoring:
  1. What to Look for to Monitor Change in Gender Relations and Women's Empowerment
  2. Tools for Monitoring Change in Gender Relations and Women's Empowerment
  3. Indicators and Discussion on Women's Empowerment Impact Measurement

1. Guiding Notes on Monitoring Change in Gender Relations

Understanding change in women’s experiences and views toward empowerment is complex and can present us with a number of challenges. Some key challenges in measuring women's empowerment are highlighted in greater detail within:

Lessons in Measuring Empowerment

These papers highlight the need to:

  1. Work more reflectively to try to understand complex change. What else is happening in the broader environment ?
  2. Consider what women’s empowerment might look like in various contexts over time.
  3. Ask not only what has changed, but how have things changed? For whom (and at what level)? How has the change been perceived or experienced by diverse groups? Who led the change, and who feels ownership over shifting norms? 
  4. Measure changes in agency, structures and relations: How have changes in gender relations affected structures and relationships among and between various groups? (SEE: CARE's Women's Empowerment Framework)
  5. Situate changes in the broader historical, social and political concept of groups.
  6. Consider dimensions of change that are not so easy to see or count. Monitoring tends to focus on change that can be easily measured, such as economic change. Social and political changes are harder to discern, and psychosocial dimensions of change are under-represented. How have women's and men's aspirations been changing? Or sense of confidence and capability? Or recognition from others?
  7. How have changes taken place compared to previous conditions and relationships? How has a group's status changed relative to others? 
  8. Acknowledge diversity among different groups, and how interventions affect multiple aspects of a person's life (SEE: the Good Practices Framework for Gender Analysis)

To measure changes in gender equality and women's empowerment, we must be aware of what is measured, who measures it and how. Situating changes in women’s lives within this broader context and perspective, we can see a qualitative difference between interventions that successfully help women to get along in a man’s world, versus successes we can show in making that world more fundamentally equal.

Why Measure Change

Before thinking about HOW we measure change, we must be clear on WHY we measure changes in gender relations and women's empowerment. Monitoring or exploring change for CARE is important to provide:

  • Accountability - to communities, impact groups, donors, partners and other stakeholders to assess our work. Monitoring is critical to ensure interventions Do No Harm.
  • Shaping Programming -  monitoring change can help CARE understand what it takes to advance our mission and vision, and identify the best role for CARE to contribute to social justice.
  • Enhancing Program Quality - beyond shaping the direction and form of CARE's work, monitoring and assessment also improve the quality of programming by ensuring that lessons learned from one intervention can influence others, and by identifying key promising practice models for gender equality. 
  • Informing Advocacy - to promote broader change and influence policy, distribution of resources and other key decisions that affect the lives of communities, and the status of groups with whom we work.

Within CARE, we also have the responsibility to ensure that any analysis reflects organizational principles and ethics. Individuals, communities and key stakeholders can mutually analyze findings and develop concrete actions to advance gender equity and equal human rights for women and men.

2. Tools for Monitoring Change in Gender Relations

A myriad of approaches can complement one another in studies looking to understand what changes have occured and why over the life of a program or project.

Organizational Knowledge

A number of approaches look at the knowledge through documentation and staff experiences to understand change:

Social Analysis

To understand people’s own perspectives on the changes that have occurred in their lives since participation in a project, and their experiences and interpretations of these changes, teams can engage methods in analyzing the context and understanding women's empowerment - how communities define it, as well as where women situate themselves in relation to it - across time.

In addition, this section highlights further exercises with communities to gain their perspectives and analyze change.

Comparison across Groups and Time

As highlighted throughout this collection, the work of CARE is only one of multiple factors influencing women’s lives.

To extract how CARE’s work has contributed to changes in women's lives, some teams used:

as a basis for comparison across different groups or time periods, to illustrate CARE's contributions to change.

Situational Analysis Tools

  • To understand change, teams have  also repeated situational analysis tools before, during and after a project cycle to track changes in gender relations.

3. Indicators and Discussion on Women's Empowerment Impact Measurement

Teams across CARE have also begun to take a critical look at indicators for gender equality and women's empowerment.

As discussed earlier, given the diversity of contexts - and of women and men - across the communities where CARE works, trying to pin down indicators that measure strategic changes that represent strategic shift in gender relations raises a number of challenges.

Women's Empowerment Impact Measurement Initiative (WEIMI)

Currently, CARE is hosting a learning initiative on measuring women's empowerment. As a part of this work, a series of discussions have been hosted on how various teams have approached the question of measuring impact on women's empowerment.

These discussions are available on the WEIMI wiki on CARE's Gender Wiki


CARE adopted the Millennium Development Indicators “plus” (MDI+) approach to measure the long-term impact of programs. Indicators are being developed based on the MDGs and their related indicators.

Using the MDI+ approach enables CARE to communicate our impact based on a framework that is externally recognized and internationally agreed upon. The MDIs are accepted and used by peer NGOs, development research institutions, international development agencies and many others. Using this framework allows us to communicate succinctly and powerfully what our contributions to development have been and eliminates the need for us to provide lengthy explanations of CARE specific indicators (‘CARE lingo”).

However, solely measuring our impact based on the MDGs and MDIs would not tell the full story of CARE’s work or priorities. For example MDIs are not adequate to demonstrate our work and contribution to women's empowerment. That is why our approach is MDI plus, “the plus “refers to:

  1. Enriching the existing MDIs with a few indicators developed out of CAREs experience such as women's empowerment and governance indicators (CARE is working on developing Governance indicators that would also be included in the MDI+ plus list).
  2. Targeting and applying these indicators to the marginalized and vulnerable groups, more specifically women and girls who are more likely to be excluded from MDIs reporting because most often MDIs are measured at the national level, whereas these groups live in the most remote, geographically isolated and/or socially excluded areas.

For women's empowerment, these indicators include:

Millennium Development Indicators

Associated Outcome Indicators

  • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
  • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
  • Change in women’s self-efficacy
  • % men and women reporting meaningful participation of women in decision-making at the household level in a domain previously reserved for men (domain:_)
  • % men and women reporting meaningful participation of women in the public sphere (domain: _)
  • % men and women with changed attitudes toward gender-based violence
  • % couples making informed joint decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health
  • % men and women reporting ability of women to effectively control productive assets
  • % women reporting an improvement in their psychosocial wellbeing
  • Average number of hours per day spent on house work, and in relation to the duration of the working day, by sex

Also, the women's empowerment framework offers a set of dimensions for women's empowerment across agency, structures and relations. From this experience, the team also distilled a critical core set of 13 indicators based on the study.

Women's Empowerment Measurement Frameworks and Guidance:

CARE Women's Empowerment Measurement Resources

Other Resources Referenced

Qualitative Analysis
Quantitative Analysis and Participatory Numbers

From the Sexual and Reproductive Health Team: Ideas and Action: Addressing the Social Factors that Influence Sexual and Reproductive Health.

From the Basic and Girls' Education Team: Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative (2006). Selected Participatory Techniques for Situational Analysis. LEADER Workshop, CARE International - Tanzania.

From the SII:

  • CARE India (unpublished). Strategic Impact Inquiry 2005 Annex of Tools.  

Methods Compendium:

  • CARE USA (2008). Gender, Sex and the Power to Survive: the impact and implications of empowering women at risk of HIV/AIDS: A Global Research Design Framework Appendices.
  • CARE (2007). Promising Practices Inquiry on Women’s Empowerment: Resources.  
  • K de Boodt (2007). Empowerment Approaches for Understanding Empowerment: Learning from Practice – Appreciative Inquiry (Dialogue Valorisant) for Positive Change. CARE Burundi.
  • V Vaughn (2007). Promising Practices Inquiry on Women’s Empowerment: A Practical Guide to the Process. CARE USA.
  • CARE Mali (2005). Mali SII Tools.
  • K Glenzer and J Rugh (2005). Women’s Empowerment Strategic Impact Inquiry Meta-Evaluation Analytic Guide. CARE USA.
  • K Glenzer (2005). Starter Kit for Conducting a Desk Review. CARE USA.
  • M Drinkwater (2004). Reflective Practice. CARE.
  • M Drinkwater, A Singh, G Hora (2004). Change from the Heart: Unlocking the Potential – Report on the Chhattisgarh Reflective Practice Exercise Summary. CARE.
  • CARE Burundi (2006). La Piste du Voyage: L’Approche valorisante synthese de methodologie.

Regional Pages:

  • CARE Ecuador (2007). Experiential Methodologies: a proposal for developing qualitative research.
  • CARE Niger (2006). Strategic Impact Inquiry Research CARE Niger: Meta-Evaluation of a decade of VSL.
  • D Koenig (2006) Meta-Evaluation: Mata Masu Dubara Projects in CARE Niger. CARE Niger.
  • CARE Mali (2005). Strategic Impact Inquiry: Some Lessons Learned.
  • SII Global Advisory Committee (2005) CARE Niger Strategic Impact Inquiry Phase I: Preliminary Plans from CARE SII Global Advisory Committee.

From the Program Quality Digital Library:

  • R Caldwell (2002). Project Design Handbook. CARE.
  • E Stensrud and G Husby (2002). Gender Equity Building Blocks: Information. CARE.

Other Resources

  • J Buter (2008). Reflexion sur le genre et la diversité sur le lieu de travail à CARE Burundi. MDF Training and Consultancy.
  • R Davies and J Dart (2004). The Most Significant Change Technique: A Guide to Its Use. Available at the Rick’s Methods page of Monitoring and Evaluation News:
  • Price and K Hawkins (2004). “Researching Sexual and Reproductive Behavior: A Peer Ethnographic Approach.” Social Science & Medicine, 55(2002): pp. 1325-1336. Available at:
  • Options and the University of Swansea Center for Development Studies (undated). The PEER Method. Available at:
  • P Stephenson with S Gourley and G Miles (2004). Resourcing Organisations with Opportunities for Transformation and Sharing: Child Participation. Teddington: Tearfund.
  • G Ashford and S Patkar (2001). The Positive Path: Using Appreciative Inquiry in Rural Indian Communities. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Available at the publications page of the IISD website:
  • W Knightly, D Whitelock and J Colder (2001) ‘Education and its effects on Self Esteem: Monitoring mature women students’ movement along this measure.’ The Gender and Education 3rd International Conference, The Centre for Research and Education on Gender, Institute of Education London, UK pp.293-301. 
  • D VanBelle-Prouty and H Sey (1998). Girls' Participatory Learning Activities in the Classroom Environment (GirlsPLACE) A View to the Experiences of Girls Institute for International Research.
  • C Wang and M Burris (1996). “Photovoice as a Tool for Participatory Evaluation: The Community's View of Process and Impact.” Journal of Contemporary Health, 4: 47-49.

From the SII Library:

Methods Compendium:

  • T Klouda (2008). Links between ‘Empowerment’ and HIV Risk. CARE USA.
  • CARE (2007). Gender, Sex and the Power to Survive: the impact and implications of empowering women at risk of HIV and AIDS, Global Research Design Framework.
  • F Wamara (2006). Strategic Impact Inquiry Quantitative Field Survey: Magu District’s VSLA Groups Field Completion Report. CARE International – Tanzania.
  • F Maiga (2006). Etude SII – Questionnaire Individuel Femme. CARE International – Mali.

Regional Pages:

  • CARE Ethiopia (2006). Strategic Impact Inquiry on Women’s Empowerment in Relation to FGC Elimination Project in Awash.
  • CARE India (2006). Strategic Impact Inquiry: Sustainable Tribal Empowerment Project.
  • N Kanji, B Bode and A Haq (2006): Strategic Impact Inquiry: CARE Bangladesh Nijeder Janyia Nijera.

From the Program Quality Digital Library:

  • T Barton (1998). Program Impact Evaluation Process: M&E Tool Box. CARE International – Uganda.

External Resources

  • M  Bamberger, J Rugh and L Mabry (2006). RealWorld Evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • R Chambers (2005). Participation and Numbers. Q-Squared Working Paper, No. 13. Toronto: Center for International Studies.
  • Caldwell, Sprechman and Rugh (1997). DME Workshop Facilitator's Manual. Available at:
  • C Robson (1993). Real World Research: a resource for social scientists and practitioner-researchers. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing


 Resource Contacts - Understanding Change

Monitoring, Evaluation and Organizational Learning ManagerUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - CanadaGlobalkaia.ambrose
Senior Director of the Gender and Empowerment UnitUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - USAGlobaldbartel
Executive Director / ResearcherUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Creative Research/Evaluation CenterGlobal
LeahBerkowitz Nchabeleng
ACD-ProgramUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - South AfricaSub-Saharan Africaleah.berkowitz
Social Development ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Monitoring and Evaluation ManagerUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE Intenational - IndiaAsianbohidar
Gender AdvisorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International-CanadaGlobalmargaret.capelazo
Monitoring and Evaluation Technical AdvisorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - USA, Access AfricaSub-Saharan Africaacoulibaly
Kristiende Boodt
Rural Development and Gender ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Sub-Saharan Africa
Senior Partner, ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Advisor for Psycho-Social ProgrammingUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - ÖsterreichGlobaltonka.eibs
Director of Health ProgramsUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - PeruLatin Americaafrisancho
Regional Technical Support Manager at Khmer HIV AIDS Use SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
HIV/AIDS AllianceAsia
Program AdvisorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - NorgeGlobalselam.hailemichael
Gender DirectorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - USAGlobalthwang
International Health and Development ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Senior Gender AdvisorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - ÖsterreichGlobalbarbara.kuehhas
Development Researcher and Advisor - Gender JusticeUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Regional Programme CoordinatorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - UKLatin Americamartins
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CARE International - FranceGlobalnavarrete
Evaluation and Research ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
Social Protection AdvisorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - USASub-Saharan Africadrobinson
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CARE International - Latin America/Caribbean RegionLatin Americasofia.sprechmann
Gender AdvisorUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
CARE International - AustraliaGloballaura.taylor
ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
MutengoSub-Saharan Africa
Learning and Analysis ConsultantUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).