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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. Mayra Buvinic & Megan O’Donnell, 2017. "Gender Matters in Economic Empowerment Interventions: A Research Review," Working Papers id:11926, eSocialSciences.
    2. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-01309651 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Noury, Abdul G. & Speciale, Biagio, 2016. "Social constraints and women's education: Evidence from Afghanistan under radical religious rule," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 821-841.
    4. Mayra Buvinic & Megan O’Donnell, 2017. "Gender Matters in Economic Empowerment Interventions: A Research Review - Working Paper 456," Working Papers 456, Center for Global Development.
    5. 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.
    6. Ayesha Khan & Mupuwaliywa Mupuwaliywa, 2015. "Providing Out-of-School Girls with Skills," World Bank Other Operational Studies 23868, The World Bank.
    7. Margherita Calderone, 2017. "Are there different spillover effects from cash transfers to men and women? Impacts on investments in education in post-war Uganda," WIDER Working Paper Series 093, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. 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).
    9. Tiloka de Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2017. "Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence," Discussion Papers 1717, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM).
    10. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 58-73.
    11. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:205-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Tiloka de Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2017. "Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 205-228.
    13. Shubha Chakravarty & Sarah Haddock & Ioana Botea, 2016. "Providing Out-of-School Adolescent Girls with Skills," World Bank Other Operational Studies 24571, The World Bank.
    14. Victoire Girard, 2016. "Mandated political representation and crimes against the low castes," WIDER Working Paper Series 074, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Buvinic, Mayra & Furst-Nichols, Rebecca, 2014. "Promoting women's economic empowerment : what works ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7087, The World Bank.
    16. de Silva, Tiloka & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2017. "The large fall in global fertility: A quantitative model," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86157, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Nelly EL MALLAKH & Mathilde MAUREL & Biagio SPECIALE, 2014. "Women and political change: Evidence from the Egyptian revolution," Working Papers P116, FERDI.
    18. Elsayed, Ahmed & Roushdy, Rania, 2017. "Empowering Women under Social Constraints: Evidence from a Field Intervention in Rural Egypt," IZA Discussion Papers 11240, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 58-73.
    20. Herrera Catalina & E. Sahn David & M. Villa Kira, 2017. "Working Paper 279 - Teen Fertility and Labor Market Segmentation in Madagascar," Working Paper Series 2396, African Development Bank.
    21. 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, pages 119-131.
    22. Klaus Abbink & Asadul Islam & Chau Nguyen, 2016. "Whose voice matters? An experimental examination of women empowerment in microfinance," Monash Economics Working Papers 40-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.

    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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