Client name: USAID

Duration: 2014

Location: Washington D.C., USA

Coffey’s American operation, MSI, is helping USAID to better understand the impact of their women’s leadership and political empowerment programs.


Women play a critical role in development, and women’s representation, participation and leadership is vital to gender equality and female empowerment.
USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy is committed to ensuring its programs include, and improve, women’s leadership and empowerment, particularly in the political and public spheres.

Its decentralised programming approach makes it difficult to compare the merits of different approaches. Programs differ in definition, technical approach and assessment of leadership activities, resulting in a lack of comparable data. Meaningful analysis of what works and what doesn’t is therefore essential to inform strategies to embed women’s leadership in development programs.


The ‘Women’s Leadership as a Route to Greater Empowerment’ study was a joint project between Coffey’s Americas operation MSI and the Center of Excellence in Democracy, Rights and Governance (DRG). The desktop study reviewed the approach to enhancing women’s leadership and political empowerment across 56 USAID programs in 50 countries.

The project sought to provide recommendations that would shape USAID’s core design and programming for future projects.


MSI’s track record in Democracy, Rights and Governance gender mainstreaming, along with its extensive monitoring, research and evaluation experience, was a key driver in the project’s success. We produced seven high-quality, actionable research and evaluation reports on women’s leadership in the public sphere.

We provided:

  • a desktop study of 56 USAID programs from 2008 to 2014
  • specific case studies on Cambodia, Georgia, Kenya, Mexico, and Jordan
  • a pilot test of a new model for measuring women’s leadership and political influence across government
  • a final learning meeting in Washington, D.C. to share findings and discuss future programming and learning agendas with agency leaders, other donors, academics and civil society.