STEPS Toolkit: Steps to transforming evaluation practice for social change

What is it?

STEPS is a program planning, monitoring, and evaluation (M&E) toolkit intended for organizations that address sexual and reproductive health and rights. STEPS is a project of Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) at Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and began as a collaboration between MSCI/ PPNYC and the International Planned Parenthood Federation/ Western Hemisphere Region. The development of the STEPS toolkit has been supported by funding from the Ford Foundation and the World Bank’s reproductive health program. STEPS is available free of charge, in both English and Spanish, on the Internet (at and on CD-ROM.

Why was it developed?

STEPS grew out of a shift in international development goals, from a narrow focus on family planning services and population control, to a broader rights-based social justice perspective on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) that emphasized empowering women and gender equality. This shift was embodied in the Cairo Consensus, the plan of action ratified by 180 countries that participated in the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development. The shift is also apparent in the eight inter-linked Millennium Development Goals that were approved by 189 United Nations member states in 2000 with the aim of eradicating poverty. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential aspects of the Cairo Consensus and the Millenium Development Goals As rights-based SRH programs proliferated, organizations noted a lack of accessible tools that could help them to design and implement effective programs and evaluate them systematically. Existing materials did not offer ways of assessing progress toward hard-to-measure goals such as women’s empowerment, gender equality, and healthy sexuality. In addition, organizations and funders wanted to have a collective body of evidence, gleaned from evaluations, that could be used to advocate for expanded
programming. We created STEPS to respond to these needs.

What can STEPS help you to do?

STEPS makes the program process a continual cycle of learning, improvement, and accountability. STEPS can help organizations to develop and evaluate rights- based social justice interventions by showing program planners how to break down complex social and health concepts, such as
women’s empowerment, into measurable and locally relevant components that can be the basis for programming and evaluation. STEPS emphasizes self-learning in order to make M&E a meaningful and continuous  aspect of the program process. It requires those who are most familiar with the program – those who directly provide services and the recipients of those services – to actively participate in M&E. STEPS employs the widely used causal pathway and the Logical Framework Approach (LFA). STEPS explains these tools and how to use them in a way that is responsive to the realities
of program development and implementation. Learning through STEPS how to apply the causal pathway and LFA can help organizations to  communicate more effectively with funders, who are increasingly asking for program work to be developed and evaluated in these frameworks.

See a slideshow presentation on STEPS Toolkit

System Requirements

Operating systems:

  • MS Windows 98SE
  • MS Windows 2000
  • MS Windows XP (Service packs 1&2)
  • Apple Macintosh OSX 10.2 +

Browsers for MS Windows, for Flash version

  • Internet Explorer 5, 5.5, 6
  • Mozilla 1.x
  • Mozilla FireFox 1.x
  • Netscape 6.x
  • Opera 7.5.x


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