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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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Unlocking the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Uganda: A Brief of Policy Interventions
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-08-26) Copley, Amy ; Gokalp, Birce ; Kirkwood, Daniel
    Private sector development is an integral channel through which countries can better leverage the productive potential of the youth bulge, support job creation, and maintain social stability. Entrepreneurship already plays an important role in Sub-Saharan Africa, where forty-two percent of the nonagricultural labor force is self-employed or is an employer, the highest rate in the world. Women business owners in Uganda face several gender-specific barriers to their enterprise performance, including lower levels of innovation, lower use of capital and labor, and segregation into lower-value sectors. This brief focuses on the policy interventions that can help empower women entrepreneurs across Uganda.
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    Monitoring COVID-19 Impacts on Firms in Ethiopia: Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Women-Owned Firms Differently
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-09) Abebe, Girum ; Bundervoet, Tom ; Wieser, Christina
    As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the Ethiopian economy, a major concern is that the pre-existing gendered challenges facing women entrepreneurs, in access to capital and hired labor, for example, will worsen, further undermining the survival and performance of women-owned firms. However, very little data exist to monitor the gender differences in impacts brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, in April 2020, the World Bank launched a high-frequency phone survey (HFPS-F) of a random sample of firms in Addis Ababa to collect detailed information on firm operations, hiring and firing, and expectations of future operations and labor demand. The analysis that follows draws on the three rounds of the HFPS-F survey implemented between April 15 and June 18, 2020, consisting of a balanced panel of 454 firms from Addis Ababa.
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    Re-Thinking Firm Level Data Collection during COVID-19: Using Mobile Sensing to Understand the Financial Behaviors of Entrepreneurs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-08) Alibhai, Salman ; Buehren, Niklas ; Cucagna, Maria Emilia
    SMEs around the world are entering a crisis period in light of COVID-19, adding new urgency to understanding firm-level financial behaviors and challenges. At the same time, traditional methods of in-person data collection pose a health risk to both enumerator and firm and contravene social distancing guidelines and public health policies. Remote data collection methods such as phone sensing offer a viable and promising alternative. Phone sensing utilizes data generated from mobile phone usage, from GPS location to call logs to battery life – to offer insights on firm behavior, trends, and challenges. While the technology is still new and untested, this note explores some of the early insights gained from a pilot of mobile sensing technology to understand the financial behavior of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia. Phone sensing data allows us to glean some insights into the lives and behaviors of entrepreneurs which traditional data collection might not reveal. One of the key finding of this pilot is that mobile phone sensing data correlates with business outcomes. Insights such as the ones from this pilot, if collected at a larger and more systematic scale, could enhance our understanding of borrower behavior, and could help lenders and policymakers better target potential borrowers, better understand when borrowers are likely to face adversity, and better design products to meet their needs.
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    The Africa Gender Innovation Lab’s Core Empowerment Indicators: Developing a Cross-Country Module to Complement Context-Specific Measures
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-08) Donald, Aletheia ; Goldstein, Markus
    To advance economic gender equality in Africa, the authors first need to know which development programs work to economically empower women. Better data on gender-informed development indicators is imperative for tracking the progress in promoting gender equality, designing interventions to address gender-based constraints and rigorously evaluating their impact. Measurement of women’s economic empowerment requires a clear conceptualization of what empowerment is and is not. One guiding definition that the authors use at the Africa gender innovation lab (GIL) is economic empowerment as the ability and power to generate income and accumulate assets, and to control their disposition. Beyond being clear on what is being measured, how it is measured also matters - and selecting the best tools for the task is no easy feat. In impact evaluations, tailoring measurement to reflect local economic arrangements and capture the specific pathway the project is intending to affect can yield a more precise (and useful) picture of women’s economic empowerment. On the other hand, systematically tracking the same indicators across projects can provide a broader understanding of the relationship between intermediate and final empowerment outcomes, as well as between different empowerment domains, such as assets, mobility, time, attitudes, and aspirations. Moreover, practitioners and policymakers have emphasized the need for a concise set of practical metrics that can be easily shared and used.
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    COVID-19 Impacts on Women Factory Workers in Ethiopia: Results from High-Frequency Phone Surveys
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Ajayi, Kehinde ; Buehren, Niklas ; Ebrahim, Menaal ; Hailemicheal, Adiam
    As the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt international supply chains and local economies, workers employed in export-oriented industries are likely to experience both demand and supply shocks due to the crisis. In Ethiopia, a slowed global economy can pose a significant threat to the country’s industrial parks and their factories in the female-concentrated garment industry, forcing them to lay off workers or even shut down their operations. To monitor the potential effects of the pandemic and support the design of evidence-based policy responses, the gender innovation policy initiative for Ethiopia (GIPIE) is conducting a high-frequency phone survey on a sample of 323 recently hired female factory workers in Ethiopia. This brief reports on the first two waves of data collected between late March and late May 2020, showing the evolution of this sample of female workers’ employment status, earnings, and expectations over the course of the pandemic. Due to the size of the sample and the fact that it only includes recent hires at the Bole Lemi Industrial Park, the results may not generalize for the full population of women factory workers in industrial parks. Data collection from the ongoing high-frequency phone survey of women factory workers in Bole Lemi Industrial Park will continue in the coming months, with recurring surveys every month for a total of 6 rounds. By tracking the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, these data collection efforts aim to equip policymakers with timely, actionable data to better design and implement policy responses in support of Ethiopia’s women factory workers.
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    COVID-19 Pandemic Through a Gender Lens
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Copley, Amy ; Decker, Alison ; Delavelle, Fannie ; Goldstein, Markus ; O'Sullivan, Michael ; Papineni, Sreelakshmi
    The coronavirus (COVID-19) (coronavirus) pandemic has led to disruptions of both social and economic activities across the globe. While the early narrative described COVID-19 (coronavirus) as the "great equalizer," asserting that the virus is capable of infecting anyone, it is critical for policymakers to understand that the impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus) will not be the same for everyone. Experience from previous epidemics suggest that COVID-19 (coronavirus) will impact groups who are most vulnerable and amplify any existing inequalities across countries, communities, households and individuals. This note focuses on the existing gender inequalities in the economic sphere in Sub-Saharan Africa and summarizes how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic could affect women and girls disproportionately. It draws on impact evaluation research to showcase policy options to help build women's economic resilience and minimize any potential negative impacts during the pandemic and recovery.