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Evaluation of the Netherland’s Women, Peace, and Security programmes

We evaluated the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)’s in-country programmes focused on increasing protection and influencing power for women and girls in conflict-affected settings.


We conducted an end-term evaluation of eight programmes under the third Dutch Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) National Action Plan (NAP) 2016–2019 and its one-year extension (WPS NAP 2020).

Our evaluation aimed to:

  1. Support the Dutch MFA and NAP consortia understand the impact of the NAP programmes against their goals and if – and how – they have achieved them.
  2. Identify lessons to inform future policy and programming.

The eight programmes (which formed only part of the Dutch WPS NAP III implementation) focused on three specific objectives:

  1. Enhanced protection of women and girls
  2. Decrease of harmful gender norms
  3. Equal leverage for women and girls in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding, relief and recovery

The programmes were implemented in Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In each of these countries, a consortium consisting of Dutch NGOs, Dutch knowledge institutions and local NGOs was funded by the Dutch MFA.

How was our evaluation conducted?

The Taskforce on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the Dutch MFA commissioned Itad to conduct an external end-term evaluation of the eight programmes.

Our methodology for this evaluation consisted of three modules:

  • Quick-scan
  • Meta-evaluation
  • Case studies

Low-quality documentation and a low number of independent sources meant our findings are not able to provide robust evidence of outcome level change.

Instead, we focused on generating findings and learning on issues of relevance, efficiency, coherence, safeguarding and ethics which are relevant to NAP IV and broader WPS programming going forward.

Outcomes and impact

Our evaluation found that the programmes adopted a wide range of approaches in seeking to achieve their objectives, and were able to reach out to over 10,000 beneficiaries in the eight countries.

Beyond the direct impacts of the programmes, their implementation brought out four emerging good practices for the wider WPS community:

  1. Adopt a broader and more nuanced approach to gender in WPS

The overall WPS NAP III and the eight programmes sought to not only work with women and girls but also directly engaged with men and boys to transform gender norms. Programmes also took an intersectional approach to gender, thus nuancing and contextualising their work.

  1. Broaden the range of WPS programming approaches and themes

Through their diverse approaches, the programmes expanded the thematic scope of what WPS NAPs work on and which kinds of methodologies and activities are employed.

  1. Align and link WPS NAP implementation with national and local framework and processes

Importantly, programmes sought to link their implementation to local, sub-national, and national frameworks and processes, rather than working separately from these, thus creating synergies, avoiding overlap and increasing institutional take-up and thus sustainability.

  1. Take the need for flexibility seriously

All of the programmes had to adapt to shifting political and security dynamics, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. This adaptability from the programme side and the flexibility afforded by the Dutch MFA is crucial to working in conflict-affected societies.

The evaluation also formulated recommendations for future WPS programming, including:

  • Strengthen the consortium approach by investing more into building partnerships and mapping synergies at the outset.
  • Strengthen programme design, monitoring, evaluation and learning processes, including focusing more on how impacts are achieved, monitored and reported.
  • Sharpen the thematic focus areas by broadening the scope of protection work, approaching gender norm change systematically and finding realistic entry points for increasing leverage.

Image: AMISOM Photo / Ilyas Ahmed via Flickr

Team members
Becky Sibson Jo Robinson