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Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Small Grants Evaluation

August, 2016
This publication was produced at the request of the United States Department of State. It was prepared independently by Dexis Consulting Group.

Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Small Grants Evaluation:


Contract No. SAQMMA-15-R-0502

Executive Summary


The authors’ views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of State or the United States Government.

WPS Small Grants Evaluation: Public Report

The Bureau of African Affairs (AF) and the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) commissioned Dexis Consulting Group to evaluate small grants awarded under the Africa – Women, Peace, and Security (AF-WPS) and the Global Women, Peace, and Security (GWPS) initiatives. The grants were implemented between 2011 and 2015 in countries across sub-Saharan Africa. This evaluation was a targeted activity in support of the U.S. Department of State’s (State) overall commitment to advance learning and accountability around implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (NAP).

This evaluation’s evidence-based findings, conclusions, and recommendations will be used to assist AF, S/GWI, and their implementing partners in assessing impact, identifying programming gaps, and communicating lessons learned to inform State’s future funding decisions around small grants in support of women, peace, and security (WPS) objectives.

Bureau of African Affairs(AF-WPS initiative) Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (GWPS initiative)
Duration 2011-2015 2013 – 2015
Amount $10.6 million $13 million globally, $2.7 in sub-Saharan Africa
Number of small grants



Number of countries covered



Recognizing the important role of civil society in achieving WPS outcomes, the small grants were awarded to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and primarily funded projects between $200,000 and $400,000. AF and S/GWI sought grants that supported three U.S. NAP objectives: (1) women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making; (2) protection from violence; and (3) conflict prevention.

The evaluation team included three core areas of analysis in this performance evaluation: (1) relevance of small grants programming to the U.S. NAP and objectives, target country environments, and programming needs; (2) impact of the small grants; and (3) sustainability.

Background, Trends, and Analysis

The United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 from October 31, 2000, and six subsequent WPS resolutions construct a WPS agenda and legal framework that addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace. The nature of conflict has changed since the inception of UNSCR 1325; new types of conflict that directly involve civilian populations occur in an unprecedented manner within sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting an increased need for women to play a more participatory and strategic role in conflict prevention, protection, and crisis recovery at the sub-national and national levels. Retrospective research over the past 15 years shows that one of the most serious obstacles to the implementation of the WPS agenda is insufficient or poorly targeted funding efforts.[1] Additionally, significant knowledge gaps continue to limit the development of best practices in support of WPS programming, including the effectiveness of small grants as a tool for empowering sustainable civil society leadership and supporting effective NAP implementation at the national and sub-national level.

National Action Plans and WPS Programming. As of March 2016, 58 NAPs have been implemented globally. In 2007, Côte d’Ivoire became the first developing country to adopt a NAP, with a focus on peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. Following Côte d’Ivoire, 18 additional NAPs were implemented in conflict and post-conflict countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2008 and 2016.[2] Though a review of current NAPs generally identifies priority areas in alignment with the four pillars of UNSCR 1325, key information is missing from most plans, including a lack of specificity on budgets to support implementation of proposed activities, a dearth of indicators for monitoring or accountability, and a lack of specific timeframes for implementation by activity.

U.S. Efforts. In December 2011, Executive Order 13595 instituted the first U.S. NAP on Women, Peace, and Security, which represents a government-wide approach to leveraging U.S. diplomatic, defense, and development efforts and builds upon the goals of gender integration. Furthermore, in 2012, the U.S. Department of State Implementation Plan of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security articulated how State, both in Washington and abroad, can advance the U.S. NAP. To execute the objectives outlined in the Plan, AF and S/GWI launched the AF-WPS and GWPS initiatives to support WPS projects through small grants across sub-Saharan Africa.

Funding Trends and Analysis. The United States government is fairly unique in providing small grants programming to support the WPS agenda, as most donors provide bilateral funding directly to governments. Two comparable small grants initiatives are implemented by UN Women, but both initiatives are too recent and do not offer enough data to assess their impact on WPS programming. Data analysis of bilateral sector-allocable Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) members[3] shows that support for gender equality and women’s rights in fragile states has grown by 10 percent on average per year since 2008. However, according to a recent global study[4] on financing for WPS efforts, just 6 percent of all aid to fragile states and economies targeted gender equality as the principal objective. In the case of peace and security-specific aid, this figure was only 2 percent. This suggests that while donors are making some efforts to integrate gender equality into their interventions in fragile contexts, few are investing substantially in dedicated programs to advance the WPS agenda.

Three areas within the WPS agenda that have shown the least progress since 2000 are: (1) women’s involvement in peace negotiations, (2) including women in peacekeeping operations, [5] and (3) persecution for crimes relevant to decreasing incidences of GBV.[6] Although legal frameworks have improved, weak justice and enforcement systems, as well as institutional weakness at the national level in tracking data, have in some cases made this one of the most challenging areas to illustrate improvement.

Evaluation Design, Methods, and Limitations

The evaluation consisted of three phases: (1) a desk review of program documentation from small grants projects, as well as research of WPS programs outside of those funded by AF and S/GWI; (2) fieldwork in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, and Kenya from January to February 2016, where the evaluation team met with Embassy staff, government officials, WPS stakeholders, project beneficiaries, and implementing partners; and (3) data analysis and report writing.

The primary methods of data collection consisted of a program documentation review, a literature review of relevant WPS documents (academic publications, security sector surveys, other donor studies, and grantee documentation), an analysis of NAPs from applicable sub-Saharan African countries, and over 140 key informant interviews and 10 focus group discussions.

Evaluation Questions

Core Area 1: Relevance

The extent to which AF and S/GWI WPS programming outcomes are valid and appropriate to NAP objectives and for the target areas of implementation

Question 1: What are the gaps in WPS programming, and to what extent is it duplicative of other programming?
Core Area 2: Impact

Whether an outcome or difference was witnessed as a result of programmatic efforts

Question 2: To what extent does WPS small grants programming increase the resilience of communities to withstand or respond to crisis or instability?

Question 3: How effective is small grants programming in supporting local leadership and increasing women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making, as well as preventing violence and/or protecting women from violence?

Question 4: What are the spillover effects of WPS programming? Did AF and S/GWI programming lead to any unintended outcomes?

Core Area 3: Sustainability

The extent to which the benefits of the effort continue after donor funding ceases

Question 5: What grantee and stakeholder recommendations should be considered for future programming? Where could future programming complement other U.S. government, host country, and NGO programming?


The evaluation identified the following in terms of relevance, impact, and sustainability of WPS small grants programming.

Core Area 1: Relevance

  • Local partners faced challenges in linking local/grassroots efforts to national-level decision-making processes. Implementing partners focused on easier, “lower-hanging fruits”; they focused their efforts on urban settings, and local mechanisms that did not require formal agreements with government entities.
  • Rural women struggled to engage in national electoral and peace processes due to their low levels of education and awareness of country-wide election activities. Data suggests increasing rural women’s participation is a systemic national problem that needs increased donor support to be addressed effectively.
  • Projects focused on gender-based violence (GBV) prevention did not sufficiently document impact and results for future learning. Greater collaboration between implementing partners and the national security authorities is needed to ensure safety of GBV survivors and those at risk. Implementing partners require technical support to ensure that the needs of GBV victims are met.
  • In the conflict prevention programs funded, there was no direct link established between local early warning systems and national security sector response systems. Programs sought to extend the reach of conflict prevention training and services to women’s groups and networks living in remote and high-risk environments; however, these efforts were not always well-linked to sub-national and national level systems of response, thus potentially not reaching maximum impact, and not being fully relevant.

Core Area 2: Impact

  • Local exchanges between women politicians and local communities enhanced the role of women in local reconciliation processes and provided opportunities for more women leaders in areas that have traditionally been led by men. Organizations with extensive experience in political participation and legislation training increased the capacity and confidence of local women politicians. The most effective programming from implementing partners in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Sudan, and South Sudan incorporated leadership training opportunities for women leaders.
  • AF-WPS and GWPS projects focusing on protection from violence documented efforts to address service sector needs, such as providing access to local counseling, advocacy for improved legislation, and access to legal services. However, the evaluation highlighted the need to match technical assistance and training to the community context. The most effective trainings identified were those conducted by local implementing partners with significant experience in local service provision, legal referrals, or survivor assistance efforts.

Core Area 3: Sustainability

  • Several AF and S/GWI partners were able to play a significant role in their country and region in the development of NAPs and national-level monitoring frameworks, yet these same partners continue to struggle for sustainable funding.
  • AF and S/GWI initiatives do not place enough focus on women leaders to build constituencies in rural areas. Programs did not always effectively engage political party leadership to structurally grant powers to women. Without these powers, the possibility of sustainable change for representation in rural areas is difficult.
  • Programs did not explicitly seek to improve local and national coordination on the inclusion of women in formal peace processes.
  • Current programs do not work to build the capacity of the security sector to address and resolve cases of GBV. For example, representatives from police forces in several countries noted the importance of training police officers to appropriately interact with survivors (including the chain of response for a survivor).
  • It is possible that economic opportunities for women and girls vulnerable to or survivors of domestic violence can provide sustainable solutions to empower women and girls following projects’ end.


Core Area 1: Relevance

Develop programs that increase the role of women in planning and participating in national infrastructures that support peace planning and security sector reforms.Future small grants solicitations could include specific language to encourage the role of women in planning and participating in national infrastructures that support peace building (i.e. national mediation commissions, peace committees, and truth and reconciliation commissions) and security sector reforms (i.e. mobile courts, transitional justice systems, and community policing programs).

Require more direct and defined partnerships with host country governments, national commissions, or local government groups working on gender equality development planning. This should be done formally at the solicitation stage by encouraging memorandums of understanding and formal partnerships with national ministries and government staff working on issues relevant to the WPS agenda, and would ensure that grants are relevant and well-coordinated with host governments.

Consider funding projects that provide technical support to ensure more effective education of GBV issues, witness protection, and improved prosecution for GBV cases. This could include: (1) technical support for national legislation promoting more effective witness protection and improved prosecution, (2) peer counseling and education for boys and men in mitigating violence against women at the local and municipal levels, (3) technical programs that research the links between economic empowerment for women and decreased domestic violence in high-risk rural and urban settings, and (4) national media campaigns that utilize social media methods to increase education and awareness. When witnesses know that they and their relatives are safe to report violence perpetrated on women, there is an increase in reporting of cases.

Significant programming gaps in sub-Saharan Africa include women’s participation in conflict prevention at the national and sub-national level. Future solicitations should consider specific language encouraging programs and activities that increase the role of women in planning and participating in national infrastructures that support peace planning (i.e. national mediation commissions, peace committees, and truth and reconciliation processes) and security sector reforms (i.e. mobile courts, transitional justice systems, and community policing programs).

Core Area 2: Impact

Focus on linking with experienced partners when supporting political participation, reforms in electoral legislation, or increasing the capacity and confidence of local women political aspirants. Future grants could fund defined and equitable partnerships between local implementing partners and more experienced international NGOs.

Target grants to support gaps identified at the community level. Technical assistance and training should be better matched to the community context to target gaps in service-sector needs (i.e. local counseling, advocacy for improved legislation, and access to legal services) on a country-by-country basis.

Core Area 3: Sustainability:

AF and S/GWI programming could be leveraged to promote reforms that increase national-level planning relevant to the WPS agenda. Training should be considered for Embassy staff on gender-responsive budgeting and partnering with local organizations to further the WPS agenda.

The following are recommendations to improve future programming:

Focus on women leaders and political party leadership, particularly on campaigning and gaining access to constituencies. Programs should work to promote women in rural areas and at the local level, focusing on skill-building and trainings. Programs should work to promote women in rural areas and at the local level, focusing on skill-building and trainings. In order to enforce structural change, programs need to focus on skill building and training for the under-educated women who have the potential to have significant influence and perspectives on development and recovery need.

Fund programs that work explicitly to improve local and national coordination on the inclusion of women in formal peace processes. Future programming should focus on sensitization of the role women can play in national reconciliation processes. Consider programs that incorporate social media approaches, radio shows, government and civil society talk shows, and national campaigns led by women and male advocates.

Fund more programming that works to build the capacity of the national police to address and resolve cases of GBV and to improve protocols in intervention.Training programs led by NGOs and local and national partners may be more cost-effective and efficient as often referral pathways, cultural norms, and laws and local practices are better understood by local service providers; thus, these partners can develop trainings that are sensitive to the current conditions and issues.

Consider funding research to understand the links between economic empowerment for women and decreased domestic violence in high-risk rural and urban settings. Research on these programs should be encouraged as there are gaps in our knowledge about the pathways through which these economic empowerment programs contribute to decreased incidences of violence against women over time.

[1] Cordaid, Civil Society Organization (CSO) Survey for the Global Study on Women, Peace, and Security. CSO Perspectives on UNSCR 1325 Implementation 15 Years after Adoption

[2] These countries are: Côte D’Ivoire, Uganda, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Central African Republic (CAR), Gambia and Kenya.

[3] OECD-DAC global analysis of donor trends in WPS funding, Financing the WPS Agenda, October 2015.

[4] “Financing UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Fragile Contexts,” Submission to the Global Study (OECD), Development Assistance Committee Network on Gender Equality (GENDERNET), March 2015), 1.

[5] Anderlini, S. N. (2010). pp. 13-30.

[6] Boehme, J. (2011). Literature Research on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 ‘Women, Peace, and Security. Werner-Institute for Feminism and Gender Democracy of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. http://www.gwi-

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