MEL efforts need to align with the SDG 6.2. commitment of equitable sanitation for all with special attention paid the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
This means evaluating progress against set objectives of reaching disadvantaged groups who are most likely to be left behind and gender related outputs, outcomes and impacts.
To monitor whether disadvantaged groups are being reached with programming, disaggregation of data is essential – disaggregating data by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, disability and geographical location, for example, can reveal alarming differences in the rates and total numbers of different groups gaining access to and using WASH services. Data alone will not remedy inequitable outcomes but will highlight where more work and adaptation is required.
Gender transformation is a process rather than an end goal that takes time, making it difficult to measure. Furthermore, it requires more than monitoring the number of women reached or who participated but rather whether there are opportunities for women to lead and if gendered power structures are being challenged or reinforced.
Whilst this adds to the complexity of MEL systems, there are an increasing number of tools being developed to help assess gender outcomes and impacts of programmes.