Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design

Revisiting what works .pdf

Expanding women’s economic opportunities benefits both women and society. Women’s choices widen and societies gain from the contribution that women’s income makes to economic growth and family wellbeing. These benefits are increasingly well-understood, but much less is known regarding the most effective interventions to empower women economically. 

The Centre for Global Development have updated their Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment,  originally published in 2013 to help guide private sector actions and investments to empower women economically. The roadmap rated 27 interventions according to the strength of evidence available at the time. This update revises or confirms ratings for 12 of the 27 interventions listed originally, as well as introduces one new intervention. There was no new evidence for the remaining interventions. 

Key findings:

  • Bundled services are best, and cash transfers may work just as well as assets
  • Capital alone is not enough to grow women-owned subsistence level firms
  • Buddy systems work
  • Young women tend to benefit more from technical and life skills training combined with job placement support services than young men
  • Conditional cash transfers need clear messaging and may not overcome all social norms
  • De-biasing service provision may be simpler and cheaper to implement and bring to scale than many other, more typical interventions 


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