With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Megan O’Donnell is the assistant director of CGD’s gender program and a senior policy analyst. She works on issues related to women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion, gender data and measurement, and development effectiveness. Prior to CGD, O’Donnell worked at the ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization focused on sub Saharan Africa, where she led the development of ONE’s gender and inclusive growth-focused policy recommendations to donors and country governments. Before joining ONE, she coordinated CGD’s gender research program and has also worked with the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Center for Research on Women, CARE USA, Banyan Global, and the Middle East Institute. She has a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s degree in Politics and French from the University of Virginia.
69% surveyed said girls in developing countries at greater risk than boys
Center for Global Development
WASHINGTON - School closures in response to COVID-19 are putting girls in developing countries at a substantial risk of gender-based violence, early pregnancy, and dropping out once schools reopen, according to a new survey from the Center for Global Development (CGD).
The survey includes responses from 98 staff at 82 different NGOs and other organizations that provide education services in at least 32 countries. About half the organizations were based on the African continent, with the rest concentrated across Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere. The organizations include school operators, other education providers, and groups that focus on children’s rights, childcare, gender equality, health, and more.
69% of respondents at education organizations said that school closures will disproportionately affect girls. Furthermore,
78% of respondents cited increased exposure to gender-based violence during school closures as an important or very important concern.
69% ranked girls not returning to school once they reopen as an important or very important concern.
68% ranked early marriage and pregnancy among school-age girls during the pandemic as an important or very important concern.
Of those respondents who believed girls would be disproportionately affected, 52% cited increased care responsibilities at home during the pandemic as a barrier to girls' studies, widening the gender education gap.
“COVID-19 obviously presents immediate health needs that countries and donors need to deal with. But it’s also critically important to not lose sight of the gendered risks it creates. The evidence is clear that, from violence to care work, girls are disproportionately affected by school closures. Governments need to support the efforts of frontline organizations working to address these risks,” said Maryam Akmal, senior policy analyst at CGD and an author of the report.
As COVID school closures have increased risks for children, it’s also curtailed the ability of some education organizations to respond. Nearly half (42%) of education service providers say their budgets have been slashed, with most of those (73%) reporting cuts by private donors and philanthropies as donors shifts their focus. 33% of respondents said their organizations anticipate layoffs of frontline staff. Despite the financial and operational disruptions, 89% of respondents report planning and delivering additional interventions during the pandemic.
“Education organizations are on the front lines helping deal with the risks introduced by the pandemic, risks which disproportionately affect girls. But just as the pandemic is heightening the risks for girls, budget cuts are hurting the organizations that could help mitigate them. There are pressing needs across the board, but international donors and governments need to step up and ensure that girls don’t get left behind,” said Megan O’Donnell, assistant director for gender at CGD and an author of the report.
The report of the study is available here, along with the survey data: https://www.cgdev.org/publication/gendered-impacts-covid-19-school-closures-insights-frontline-organizations.
COVID-19 school closures pose significant operational and financial risks to frontline organizations delivering vital education services, including non-governmental organizations, school operators, and other service providers. In this survey, we ask these organizations about the challenges they are facing in light of COVID-19 closures, particularly for girls. The responses shed light on how COVID-19 is affecting education service operations—and what providers are doing in response.
In 1995 India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali—a women-owned and -run social enterprise. With support from key partners, Gitanjali has generated social value, providing its members with safe and dignified work while increasing their earnings. While Gitanjali faces challenges in becoming a fully self-sufficient social enterprise, its experience offers insights for other initiatives seeking to provide opportunities for women to transition from informal to formal work.
This paper seeks to determine the degree to which a gender lens has been incorporated into World Bank projects and the success of individual projects according to gender equality-related indicators. We first examine the World Bank’s internal scoring of projects based on whether they encompass gender analysis, action, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) components, as well as project development objective indicators and outcomes according to these indicators.
Women’s economic empowerment is increasingly recognized as critical to achieving development outcomes around the world. Informed by a roundtable discussion at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and additional suggestions from CGD researchers, this four-point memo aims to issue practical proposals for the next US administration, particularly aimed at economically empowering women and girls worldwide, as a building block toward the full realization of broader gender equality and women’s agency and empowerment. The recommendations build on those in CGD’s The White House and the World briefing book, as well as the CGD policy memo “A US Law or Executive Order to Combat Gender Apartheid in Discriminatory Countries” and ongoing work at CGD focused on women’s financial inclusion.
Revisiting What Works updates the evidence first published in the 2013 Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment and, as with the Roadmap, privileges short-term interventions that the private sector can sponsor and undertake. The Roadmap used rigorous evidence from 136 evaluations to identify proven, promising, high-potential and unproven interventions to increase women’s productivity and earnings in developing countries.