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
    Designing and Implementing Low-Cost Childcare Solutions: Lessons from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-30) Cassidy, Rachel; Zighed, Roxane; Gokalp, Cansu Birce
    This case study presents lessons learned by the Africa GenderInnovation Lab (GIL) and its partners from pilots of different models of low-cost childcare provision across four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: mobile crèches in Burkina Faso and Cameroon, fixed-location crèches in Ethiopia, and community-based childcare centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We also share findings from qualitative research conducted to inform the design of a new community-based childcare pilot in Cameroon. This case study does not intend to prescribe best practices, but instead to provide examples of the key questions, challenges and solutions encountered by project teams.
  • Publication
    Breaking the Cycle of Intimate-partner Violence: Harm Reduction by Engaging Men in the Democratic Republic of Congo
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-28) Gurbuz Cuneo, Alev; Falb, Kathryn; Kabeya, Rocky; Koussoubé, Estelle; Pierotti, Rachael S.; Vaillant, Julia
    Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a global problem and a widespread issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where nationally more than one third of women have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence in the past year (2013-2014 DHS). The Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) tested the effectiveness of the Engaging Men through Accountable Practice (EMAP) program, a male-only discussion group intervention which aimed at preventing intimate partner violence (IPV) and promoting more egalitarian gender relations. EMAP was implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). New analyses of the study data paint a nuanced picture of the impact of the intervention. The authors find that among men who were the most physically violent at baseline, the EMAP program was effective at reducing the probability and severity of IPV perpetration. Although zero violence is a necessary and critical goal when promoting gender equality, these results reinforce the importance of measuring the contribution of policies and programs to reduce IPV’s occurrence, in addition to measuring effects on primary prevention and cessation of violence.
  • Publication
    Engaging Men for Women’s Economic Empowerment: Overview of the Evidence
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-10-02) Pierotti, Rachael; Delavallade, Clara; Kaur Brar, Rajdev
    Promoting women’s socioeconomic empowerment means increasing women’s control over the resources and decisions that are important for their well-being. Achieving these goals requires engaging men, since men often have influence over the lives of women in t heir households and communities. This overview examines evidence on the effectiveness of three different types of approaches that have been tested: Adding an engaging men intervention to complement a program designed to support women’s individual economic activities: Studies of these interventions show mixed results. Some have had success while others highlight the risk that this type of intervention could reduce women’s autonomy; Complementing support for household production or consumption with programming that encourages cooperative management or joint planning: These types of interventions are promising, especially for increasing women’s role in the management of household resources, although they have had limited impact on women’s individual-level economic outcomes; and Encouraging men to recognize or enhance their wives’ rights to ownership of important assets: There is very limited research available on this category of intervention, although available evidence is promising. Additional research in other contexts is necessary.
  • Publication
    Gender Gaps in Agriculture Productivity and Public Spending in Nigeria
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-25) World Bank
    Women farmers produce 30 percent less per hectare than their male counterparts. Among various factors, there are three key drivers of gender gaps in agriculture productivity in Nigeria: women use fewer inputs and have limited participation in extension services, farm less-valuable crops, and hire less productive labor. The four value chains receiving the largest budget allocations are among those with the lowest participation of women farmers. These gaps can be closed via adjustments at fundamental stages of budget allocation and policy formulation. This technical note aims to analyze the gender dimensions of participation, input distribution, and budget allocation across various crop value chains supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD). Specifically, the underlying analysis aims to (i) examine women’s participation in the crop value chains for which FMARD provides input support; (ii) quantify the gender gaps in agricultural input use, extension services, and labor productivity; (iii) examine women’s participation and inputs use against budget allocations; and (iv) thereby, formulate recommendations for increasing fiscal space and investments to close the agricultural gender productivity gaps in Nigeria.
  • Publication
    Phone-Based Financial Heuristics Training for Female Retailers in Ethiopia
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-09-01) Abebe, Girum; Asheber, Tsedey; Hailemicheal, Adiam Hagos; Weis, Toni
    A recent review of evidence on the impacts of business training indicates the need to develop alternatives to formal classroom training, simpler rules-of-thumb-type trainings for less sophisticated firms, and business trainings that can be scaled up affordably. In partnership with ideas42, the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) piloted a heuristics (rules-of-thumb)-based business training in Ethiopia that delivers easy-to-remember and -implement financial and business practices. The training was designed for small-scale female retailers and is delivered by phone using prerecorded messages and interactive voice response technology. A key motivation was to make the program accessible to women who are busy tending their families and shops, and who may have limited ability to attend classroom-based trainings.
  • Publication
    Taking Control: How Financial Inclusion Impacts Labor Supply
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-07-13) Carranza, Eliana; Donald, Aletheia; Grosset, Florian; Kaur, Supreet
    Social and familial financial transfers are common in low-income communities and have positive social effects. To address this challenge, the authors designed and implemented a financial innovation to lower redistributive pressure among female cashew-processing workers: a blocked savings account into which gains in workers’ earnings get transferred. Take-up of the private account was substantially higher at 60 percent, compared to 14 percent for the non-private account. Being offered a private account increased workers’ attendance by 9.7 percent and earnings by 11.4 percent. The estimates imply that workers face a 9-23 percent social tax rate, and that the welfare benefits of informal redistribution may come at the cost of depressing labor supply and productivity.
  • Publication
    Evening the Credit Score: Can Psychometric Credit-Scoring Address Collateral Constraints for Women Entrepreneurs?
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-07-13) Alibhai, Salman; Cassidy, Rachel; Ebrahim, Menaal; Goldstein, Markus; Edey, Yemsrach Kinfe; Papineni, Sreelakshmi
    Despite gender parity in access to microfinance, and many group-based microfinance schemes favoring women, women face more difficulty than men in getting loans of larger size, longer duration, individual liability, and more flexible terms that may promote firm growth.1 In Ethiopia, as in many contexts where credit information systems are in their infancy, financial institutions typically impose stringent collateral requirements for larger loans. Women are less likely than men to own large, collateralizable assets such as housing, land, or vehicles due to inheritance practices, unequal land ownership laws, and social customs. Innovative solutions to replace or reduce the reliance on fixed-asset collateral may help to expand access to capital for growth-oriented women owned firms.
  • 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
    Helping Female Entrepreneurs Access Digital Platforms: The Importance of a Tech-Plus-Touch Approach and Other Lessons Learned - Case Study 1
    (World Bank, Washington DC, 2023-03-12) Friedson-Ridenour, Sophia; Edey, Kinfe
    Connecting female entrepreneurs to digital platforms that provide access to information and resources is possible, even in low-income and low-bandwidth settings. However, supporting initial take-up may require traditional, in-person marketing and onboarding. This brief shares lessons from a pilot of a digital mentoring platform in Ethiopia. The target users were female entrepreneurs in Ethiopia’s Somali region. The pilot found that on-boarding female entrepreneurs to digital platforms and helping them progress through the user experience is possible, but also suggests that thoughtful design modifications are critical. These modifications include: (a) using old-fashioned marketing strategies; (b) adopting a tech-plus-touch approach; (c) prioritizing a mobile-first low-bandwidth option; (d) simplifying onboarding requirements; and (e) providing educational and guidance resources.
  • 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.