Africa Gender Innovation Lab

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The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) conducts impact evaluations of development interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to generate evidence on how to close the gender gap in earnings, productivity, assets and agency. The GIL team is currently working on over 50 impact evaluations in 21 countries with the aim of building an evidence base with lessons for the region.

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  • Publication
    Which Socio-Emotional Skills Matter Most for Women’s Earnings? New Insights from Sub-Saharan Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-03-30) Ajayi, Kehinde; Das, Smita; Delavallade, Clara; Ketema, Tigist Assefa; Rouanet, Léa
    Evidence on gender-specific returns to socio-emotional skills in developing economies is lacking. To inform the selection of socio-emotional skills in policy design, a new study mobilizing data from 17 African countries with 41,873 respondents examines gender differences in ten self-reported socio-emotional skills and their relationship with education and earnings. Evidence from the existing literature shows that socio-emotional skills positively influence labor market outcomes. Findings from our sample suggest that women in Sub-Saharan Africa could benefit from training programs designed to improve their socio-emotional skills, as women earn on average 54 percent less than men and report lower levels of socio-emotional skills. Educational attainment, which likely contributes to the increase of socioemotional skills for both men and women, might not be enough to eliminate gender differences in socio-emotional skills, since even among the most educated individuals, women still have lower levels of socio-emotional skills than men. Research on the relationship between socio-emotional skills and labor market outcomes should be deepened to improve the design of future programs teaching socio-emotional skills in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our results suggest that public interventions seeking to equip women with interpersonal skills (e.g., teamwork, expressiveness, and interpersonal relatedness) may provide an effective pathway to reduce gender disparities in the labor market.
  • Publication
    Locking Crops to Unlock Investment: Experimental Evidence on Warrantage in Burkina Faso
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-09-30) World Bank
    Smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa face an array of challenges to realizing higher profits from their agricultural activities, including lack of adequate storage facilities and credit market imperfections. To address these constraints, warrantage, an innovative inventory credit system, offers farmers the opportunity to both store their crop production and access credit simultaneously. In a study in Burkina Faso, a research team worked with 38 villages to look at the impacts of warrantage on a variety of household and agricultural outcomes when given access to storage warehouses in close proximity villages. With additional cash on hand from increased revenues, households with access to the warrantage scheme invested more in education, increased their livestock holdings, and invested more in agricultural inputs for the following year. No impacts were found on food expenditures or on food security indicators. These findings suggest that warrantage systems, when established through trusted community institutions, can positively influence household incomes and farmers’ investment behavior.
  • Publication
    Household Demand and Community Perceptions of Community-Based Childcare
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-09) Brudevold-Newman, Andrew; Buehren, Niklas; Gebremedhin, Roman Tesfaye; Hailemicheal, Adiam Hagos; Ketema, Tigist Assefa
    Women in Ethiopia bear a disproportionate burden of childcare responsibilities, spending approximately eight times the amount of time that men do on childcare. Childcare duties, while critical to the development of the child, could be holding back the earning potential of women and households, ultimately diminishing household income and poverty reduction efforts. In a study in the Amhara region, we explore the demand for and social norms around external childcare services through a pilot intervention within the context of the Ethiopia Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP). We find that the demand for childcare centers in rural areas is high, and the perceptions around external childcare services are favorable. More than 95 percent of potential beneficiary households expressed an interest in sending their children to childcare centers and anticipated sending their children for 4.6 days/week on average. The objective of the study was to generate rigorous evidence on the impactsof providing rural childcare through the PSNP on individual and household outcomes.While the intervention and associated impact evaluation were suspended due to theconflict in Northern Ethiopia, the study provided valuable lessons on the demand for and social norms around external childcare services from a pre-program survey of 2,250 households in the study region and administrative attendance data on program use from the first months of implementation.
  • Publication
    Top Policy Lessons in Agriculture
    (Washington, DC, 2022-09) World Bank
    Across Africa, agriculture is a primary sector of employment, and African women provide about 40 percent of the agricultural labor across the continent. Yet women farmers face systemic barriers to success, leading to large gender gaps in agricultural productivity that range from 23 percent in Tanzania to 66 percent in Niger. These gender gaps not only represent major untapped economic potential but could also yield sizable gains for African economies if they were closed. For instance, in Nigeria, closing the gender productivity gap in agriculture could boost gross domestic product by an estimated US2.3 billion dollars and potentially as much as US8.1 billion dollars due to spillovers to other economic sectors. Several factors driving female farmers’ lower productivity are the time and bandwidth taxes from care and household responsibilities, limited access to and control of hired labor and other productive inputs, skills and information gaps, low financial liquidity, and restrictive social norms. Over 90 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s extreme poor, who are some of the most vulnerable to shocks, are engaged in agriculture. In the face of crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and global price shocks, that can exacerbate food insecurity, women farmers need targeted support and access to productive inputs that can secure their livelihoods and mitigate existing gender inequalities. Impact evaluation evidence from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab points toward policy solutions that can address many of these constraints and help women farmers reach their full potential.
  • Publication
    Policy Solutions to Close Gender Gaps in the Agriculture Sector in Nigeria
    (Washington, DC, 2022-07) World Bank
    Substantial gender gaps exist in labor force participation and productivity in the agriculture sector in Nigeria. Closing the gender productivity gap in agriculture could lead to sizable gains in the Nigerian economy, boosting gross domestic product. Key factors driving the gender gaps in agriculture include women farmers’ limited use of farm inputs, choice of lowvalue crops, and lower productivity of hired labor. To successfully close gender gaps, policy makers not only need a detailed account of what drives these gaps, but also a rigorous evidence base on cost-effective policy options. This brief offers guidance on interventions that could be adopted to address the underlying constraints faced by women farmers in Nigeria. These recommendations could also meaningfully inform the framework and implementation of the National Gender Policy on Agriculture.
  • Publication
    Two Heads are Better Than One: Agricultural Production and Investment in Côte d’Ivoire
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-05) Donald, Aletheia; Goldstein, Markus; Rouanet, Léa; Rouanet, Léa
    Increasing agricultural productivity and investment is critical to reducing poverty, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where agriculture remains the dominant income-generating activity. One potential way to promote investment and improve the efficiency of household farm production is to empower women as co-managers and facilitate the coordination of production decisions within the family. The authors test this approach in Côte d’Ivoire through a couples training delivered to rubber producers, and find that including women in economic planning improved the efficiency of household farm production and promoted higher levels of investment.
  • Publication
    Addressing Gender-Based Occupational Segregation: Experimental Evidence from the Republic of Congo
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-03-01) Gassier, Marine; Pierotti, Rachael Susan; Rouanet, Lea Marie; Traore, Lacina; Rouanet, Léa
    Gender-based occupational segregation - the fact that men and women are typically concentrated in different occupations and economic sectors - contributes to gender gaps in earnings. In an experiment in the Republic of Congo, the authors examine whether addressing informational constraints around returns from male dominated sectors can encourage young women to apply for training in more profitable male-dominated sectors. There is high potential for interventions that pair information on returns and trade exposure. However, there are gender gaps in access to early opportunities, mainly relevant technical experience and network connections. Providing information on earnings is a low-cost intervention that can encourage young women to crossover to more lucrative trades, thereby reducing the gender gap in earnings.
  • Publication
    Tell Us How We are Doing: Motivating Teams Through Feedback Versus Public Recognition
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-10) Delavallade, Clara
    Motivating service providers to improve the quality of public service delivery is a major development challenge across the globe. This is particularly relevant for women, who are over-represented as providers of essential public services such as healthcare and education in Africa. In the context of a national school nutrition program in the Western Cape province of South Africa, the authors offered either private feedback or public recognition to female school-feeding teams to examine the effectiveness of different incentives schemes when financial rewards are not available. Receiving private feedback on performance boosted workers’ effort more than public recognition. These results suggest that providing performance feedback can be an effective policy for motivating female teams and improving service delivery, more so than mechanisms leveraging public image.
  • Publication
    New Insights on Women’s Employment in Ethiopia’s Industrial Parks
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-10-01) Ajayi, Kehinde Funmilola; Buehren, Niklas; Cassidy, Rachel Margaret; Salcher, Isabelle
    Low take-up of job offers and high early turnover continue to affect employment of Ethiopia’s female factory workers. Despite starting factory work around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the women in our sample still left factory employment primarily for voluntary reasons unrelated to COVID-19. This is consistent with early separation being a longer-term feature of factory employment. Women who voluntarily left their factory jobs reported they had received wages close to the minimum of what they were expecting. Much of the COVID-related separations we observe are “voluntary”, with women choosing to leave factory jobs and mainly staying at home due to personal health concerns. Therefore, while measures to reinforce input chains and demand for factory orders remain key, immediate interventions to address workers’ health and safety concerns are crucial to counter voluntary quitting in times of a public health crisis.
  • Publication
    Coping with COVID-19 Shocks in Western Uganda
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-09) Sharma, Ambika; Gruver, Ariel; Montalvao, Joao; O'Sullivan, Michael
    In Western Uganda, women farmers and their households were facing widespread agricultural and non-agricultural income shocks in September 2020, indicating a protracted crisis. To cope with these shocks, many households liquidated productive agricultural assets. Women who had higher decision-making power within the household before the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, appeared to cope better with post-outbreak shocks by engaging in more income-generating activities and having better food security in the household.