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Women's empowerment in action: Evidence from a randomized control trial in Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Oriana Bandiera
  • Niklas Buehren
  • Robin Burgess
  • Markus Goldstein
  • Selim Gulesci
  • Imran Rasul
  • Munshi Sulaiman

Abstract

Women in developing countries are disempowered relative to their contemporaries in developed countries. High youth unemployment and early marriage and childbearing interact to limit human capital investment and enforce dependence on men. In this paper we evaluate an attempt to jump-start adolescent women’s empowerment in the world’s second youngest country: Uganda. In this two-pronged intervention, adolescent girls are simultaneously provided vocational training and information on sex, reproduction and marriage. Relative to adolescents in control communities, after two years the intervention raises the likelihood that girls engage in income generating activities by 72% (mainly driven by increased participation in self-employment), and raises their monthly consumption expenditures by 41%. Teen pregnancy falls by 26%, and early entry into marriage/cohabitation falls by 58%. Strikingly, the share of girls reporting sex against their will drops from 14% to almost half that level and preferred ages of marriage and childbearing both move forward. The findings indicate that women’s economic and social empowerment can be jump-started through the combined provision of vocational and life skills, and is not necessarily held back by insurmountable constraints arising from binding social norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Oriana Bandiera & Niklas Buehren & Robin Burgess & Markus Goldstein & Selim Gulesci & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman, 2014. "Women's empowerment in action: Evidence from a randomized control trial in Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-30, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2014-30
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tiloka de Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2017. "Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 205-228, Fall.
    2. Pratley, Pierre, 2016. "Associations between quantitative measures of women's empowerment and access to care and health status for mothers and their children: A systematic review of evidence from the developing world," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 119-131.
    3. Brudevold-Newman, Andrew & Honorati, Maddalena & Jakiela, Pamela & Ozier, Owen, 2017. "A Firm of One's Own: Experimental Evidence on Credit Constraints and Occupational Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 10583, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Nelly El-Mallakh & Mathilde Maurel & Biagio Speciale, 2015. "Arab Spring Protests and Women’s Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the Egyptian Revolution," Working Papers 957, Economic Research Forum, revised Oct 2015.
    5. Nelly EL MALLAKH & Mathilde MAUREL & Biagio SPECIALE, 2014. "Women and political change: Evidence from the Egyptian revolution," Working Papers P116, FERDI.
    6. Mayra Buvinic & Megan O’Donnell, 2017. "Gender Matters in Economic Empowerment Interventions: A Research Review," Working Papers id:11926, eSocialSciences.
    7. Nelly El-Mallakh & Mathilde Maurel & Biagio Speciale, 2016. "Arab Spring Protests and Women's Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the Egyptian Revolution," Working Papers hal-01309651, HAL.
    8. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 821-841.
    9. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 58-73.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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