Sustainable Change Starts with Women

In their own words and through their inspiring stories, women affected by war and conflict remind us of their strength and determination to overcome the most daunting challenges. We reach out to women who are often left behind – those who struggle with poverty and violence, who are denied basic education and health care, and who suffer greatly from conflict. The women we serve tell us that through our programs, they find new opportunities to strengthen themselves, their families, and their communities.

As each woman participates in our yearlong program, she works to strengthen herself across four critical areas of social and economic empowerment. Here are just a few of the many changes a sample of our graduates report seeing in their lives over three years:

Women Earn and Save Money

earning and saving moneyWhy  it matters: Learning how to earn money, receiving a monthly stipend, and setting aside savings gives women the ability to provide for their family's needs and invest in a new future.

What our graduates report: Women say their earnings have grown - on average, women report daily personal earnings of $1.07 two years after graduation, compared to $0.34 at enrollment.1

Women report using their monthly stipends for a variety of key consumption and investment needs. The distribution of our 2015 graduates' reported use of their stipends is shown in the graph below (multiple options can be selected per respondent).2


Women Develop Health and Well-being

basic healthcareWhy it matters: Basic health education and connecting with local care providers enables women to best protect their and their family's well-being.

What our graduates report: More women say they practice family planning - 87 percent report they practice family planning two years after graduation, compared to 30 percent at enrollment.1


Women Influence Decisions in their Homes and Communities

equal rights for womenWhy it matters: Learning about the equal rights of women and men gives women greater confidence to raise their voices on the issues affecting their lives.

What our graduates report: More women say they participate in household financial decision-making – 87 percent report participating in these decisions two years after graduation, compared to 34 percent at enrollment.1


Women Create and Connect to Networks for Support

Why it matters: Connecting with other women is a source of strength and provides new social and economic opportunities for growth.

What our graduates report: More women say they share information about their rights with other women – 89 percent report educating another woman about their rights two years after graduation, compared to 10 percent at enrollment.1


Photo by Rada Akbar
Photo by Rada Akbar, 2014.

Photo by Alison Wright
Photo by Alison Wright, 2014.

Improving Outcomes through Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning

Inspired by the changes our program participants make in their lives, we are dedicated to continually improving our programs to best help women achieve their goals. Through our Monitoring, Research, and Evaluation work, we remain committed to listening and learning from the women we serve. Their experiences are at the center of our work to strengthen our programs.


We collect basic demographic information from each woman enrolled in our core program and track her participation and graduation. To quantify the changes women experience during and after our program, we collect more detailed information from a representative sample of our program participants on their economic well-being, health and wellness, decision-making, and connection to networks. These surveys are conducted with the sampled cohort in each country using a core set of questions at four points in time: at enrollment in our program, right before graduation, 12 months after graduation, and 24 months after graduation. This enables us to see how program participants' well-being changes over time. In 2013, we began streamlining this process, replacing paper surveys with tablets in our country offices for more secure and efficient electronic data collection.


Research enables us to better understand the constraints that affect the women we serve and the underlying reasons driving the survey results we observe. We purse targeted research projects to investigate specific programmatic questions more deeply, and the studies range methodologically from diagnostic qualitative investigations to broader large-sample surveys examining average trends in women's economic and social well-being in conflict-affected settings. engagements investigating women's economic and social well-being in post-conflict settings.


In collaboration with external research and evaluation partners, we are working to gain a deeper understanding of the effectiveness and causal impact of our programs, and to continuously improve our research capacity through trainings and sharing. These external partnerships include:

  • An evaluation of our program's effectiveness in reducing the incidence of violence against women, specifically intimate partner violence. Learn more;

  • A longitudinal assessment of our men's engagement program, its effects on trained male leaders, and views from community members on how the program affects gender norms

To learn about our research and evaluation priorities and investments, we invite you to look at our five-year Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) strategy here.

1. This longitudinal data analysis tracks a set of 2,574 participants who graduated from Women for Women International’s social and economic empowerment program between October 2011 and July 2012, representing approximately 9 percent of all graduates from this period. Data are self-reported and are gathered on a geographically stratified sample of participants at enrollment and two years post-graduation. Due to an office relocation, two year follow-up data for graduates from South Sudan were not available - the global average figures therefore do not include data from South Sudan. Only participants who were tracked and surveyed at both enrollment and two years post-graduation are included in this analysis, which represents 49% of the target sample that was randomly selected for follow-up surveys. We do not gather routine monitoring data from a comparison group. This dataset of outcomes two years post-graduation was cleaned and analyzed in 2015. For the question on reported practice of family planning, we exclude the 10-30 percent of respondents who report family planning as being N/A to them at the time of the survey. Our Monitoring, Research, and Evaluation team is engaged in ongoing efforts to establish the effects of our programs more definitively. For additional questions, please contact us at

2. This analysis includes a set of 6,438 participants who graduated from Women for Women International's social and economic empowerment program in 2015 (including graduates from South Sudan), representing approximately 31% of all 2015 graduates.