In calling for large-scale investment in the United States’ care economy, the Biden-Harris administration has taken an unprecedented step in recognizing and addressing the constraints that American families, and particularly women, face in juggling paid and unpaid work within their own country. The administration now has an opportunity to translate its positioning of care as essential infrastructure within the US context into a complementary foreign and international development policy agenda.
This paper makes the case that some interventions designed to improve women’s economic lives need to be tracked long enough for women to manifest new and beneficial behaviors. The study analyzes the time paths of the estimated impacts in a randomized trial providing financial incentives to bank agents (on the supply-side) and basic business training to women business owners (on the demand-side) for them to access and use formal financial services.
In this policy brief, we summarize the findings of a CGD working paper, Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in the COVID-19 Context. We explore the impacts of the crisis on women’s economic opportunities and outcomes, document the extent to which governments and donors are taking action to respond to these impacts, and make recommendations for how decision-makers can elevate women’s economic empowerment as a priority in response and recovery efforts.
In this policy brief, we summarize the findings of a CGD working paper, The Gendered Dimensions of Social Protection in the COVID-19 Context. We explore the role of social protection, with an emphasis on social assistance policies and programs, in addressing increasing poverty, food insecurity, unpaid care work, and gender-based violence—all exacerbated by the onset of the crisis and associated containment measures. We document these trends and how they disproportionately impact women and girls, as well as the extent to which governments and donors are integrating a gender lens into their social protection efforts and make recommendations to ensure that future efforts effectively reach and benefit women and girls.
This paper, part of a series documenting the gendered dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis, focuses on the role of social protection policies and programs in addressing gender inequalities, or in some cases risking their exacerbation.
When health crises like COVID-19 emerge, the shocks to economic, social, and health systems can have different implications for women and girls, with gendered impacts across various dimensions of wellbeing. This paper, part of a series documenting the gendered impacts of the pandemic, focuses on women’s economic empowerment.
The Impacts of Health Crises on Women & Girls: How Historical Evidence Can Inform Assessment and Recovery through a Gender Lens
This paper presents a conceptual framework on the effects of health crises on women and girls with an eye toward understanding the growing evidence base for the COVID-19 pandemic. When health crises like COVID-19 emerge, the simultaneous shocks to economic, social, and health systems can have different implications for women and girls.
A main objective of the compendium is practical: helping readers locate and choose different tools (and indicators) for different purposes. This includes providing a better understanding of the factors that affect country rankings produced by different tools and selecting among tools and indicators for monitoring a particular project. It also identifies gaps in WEE measurement that need to be filled and aims to promote harmonization among WEE stakeholders through a shared understanding of existing tools and what they measure.
Evidence on ‘what works’ to promote women’s economic empowerment has expanded in recent years but remains geographically unbalanced, with English speaking countries and those with more longstanding research traditions better represented. Recognizing the importance of context specificity in understanding and advancing gender equality, we seek to fill a gap in the literature by reviewing interventions, policies, and broader socio-economic trends within West Africa and the extent to which they have contributed to progress in narrowing economic gender gaps in the region.
Can Boosting Savings and Skills Support Female Business Owners in Indonesia? Evidence from A Randomized Controlled Trial
This study tests the relative effectiveness and cost effectiveness of providing supply-side incentives to promote agent banking savings accounts, business and financial literacy training for female entrepreneurs, and the combination of the two on women’s businesses and agency in Indonesia.
Unequal Ventures: Results from an Endline Study of Gender and Entrepreneurship in East Java, Indonesia
This report presents the endline results of a randomized controlled trial in East Java, Indonesia, of demand- and supply-side interventions to increase the use of saving and other branchless banking services by women business owners.
Savings can help businesses expand, by enabling them to finance lumpy investments and absorb unexpected shocks. However, several barriers stand in the way of women firm owners in developing countries who want to increase their savings.
Unequal Ventures: Results from a Baseline Study of Gender and Entrepreneurship in East Java, Indonesia
A study of women and men business owners in East Java offers a unique opportunity to analyze characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses by gender for a country where such systematic data are scarce. The study is one of two randomized controlled trials launched in 2015 to assess the power of mobile savings and training for women entrepreneurs. This report details baseline results from the Indonesia trial, still under way, which is testing whether providing financial literacy training for women who are potential bank clients and varying financial incentives to bank agents promoting a new mobile savings product make a difference in increasing entrepreneurs’ uptake of formal savings and in improving economic outcomes. Short-term results of the other trial, in Tanzania, were reported in the first report in this series.
Women own a large and growing proportion of businesses in Indonesia, estimated at over half of all micro, small, and medium enterprises. However, women’s economic outcomes are not equal to those of men.
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.
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.
A review of the recent evaluation evidence on financial services and training interventions questions their gender neutrality and suggests that some design features in these interventions can yield more positive economic outcomes for women than for men. These include features in savings and ‘Graduation’ programs that increase women’s economic self-reliance and self-control, and the practice of repeated micro borrowing that increases financial risk-taking and choice. Subjective economic empowerment appears to be an important intermediate outcome for women that should be promoted and more reliably and accurately measured. Lastly, whenever possible, results should be sex-disaggregated and reported for individuals as well as households.
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.