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
    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
    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
    Top Policy Lessons in Agriculture
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-03) World Bank
    This policy brief summarizes key policy lessons from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab on ways to empower women farmers.
  • Publication
    Reducing the Agricultural Gender Gap in Cote d'Ivoire: How has it Changed?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-02) Donald, Aletheia; Lawin, Gabriel; Rouanet, Lea; Rouanet, Léa
    Over the last decade, Cote d’Ivoire has witnessed a remarkable shrinking of its gender gap in agricultural productivity. When comparing similar households, the gender gap has been reduced by 32 percent.
  • Publication
    What Are the Economic Costs of Gender Gaps in Ethiopia?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-03) Buehren, Niklas; Gonzalez, Paula; Copley, Amy
    Despite Ethiopia’s remarkable economic progress over the past decade, gender gaps in key economic activities - agriculture, entrepreneurship, and wage employment - indicate that challenges remain to realizing the full potential of women’s economic empowerment. Differences in simple averages between men and women show that women lag men by 36 percent in agricultural productivity, by 79 percent in business sales, and by 44 percent in hourly wages. This brief examines the costs of these gender gaps and estimates the potential gains from closing them.
  • Publication
    Africa Gender Innovation Lab Ethiopia Gender Diagnostic: Building the Evidence Base to Address Gender Inequality in Ethiopia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019) Buehren, Niklas; Goldstein, Markus; Gonzalez, Paula; Hagos, Adiam; Kirkwood, Daniel; Paskov, Patricia; Poulin, Michelle; Raja, Chandni
    Ethiopia has made remarkable economic progress over the past decade, achieving high gross domestic product (GDP) growth and dramatically reducing poverty. Despite this success, current gender gaps show that challenges remain to realizing inclusive growth and the full potential of women’s economic empowerment. In Ethiopia, women still lag men on several important economic indicators, including employment rate, agricultural productivity, earnings from self-employment, and wage income. While the Government of Ethiopia has already made significant commitments and investments aiming to close the country’s gender gaps, new data offer an opportunity to generate critical evidence to strategically target these investments. For this reason, the Africa gender innovation lab’s (GIL) Ethiopia gender diagnostic report provides innovative analysis on the root causes and drivers of gender inequality in Ethiopia. Using data from the latest round of the Ethiopia socioeconomic survey (2015-2016) and an established statistical approach, the report examines the country’s gender gaps in employment, agricultural productivity, and income from self- and wage employment. It presents specific policy areas for the government to target in addressing the constraints faced by female workers, farmers, and business owners. The key findings and policy recommendations are discussed in the report.
  • Publication
    Investing in Childcare for Women's Economic Empowerment
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-08) Donald, Aletheia; Campos, Francisco; Vaillant, Julia; Cucagna, Maria Emilia
    Two thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s citizens depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Women make up a large part of the agricultural workforce: in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), over 80 percent of women work in farming compared to 60 percent of men. However, women face a variety of constraints which limit the time they can devote to working or supervising farm labor and reduce the productivity of their plots. Increasing women’s agricultural productivity has the potential not only to improve their own economic status, but also to enhance economic growth and food security in their communities. The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) used a combination of consultations in the field, desk research, and primary data collection to understand the patterns of time allocation in rural households in Western DRC, and to assess the factors to consider when designing effective interventions aimed at increasing women’s agricultural productivity.
  • Publication
    The Impact of Strengthening Agricultural Extension Services: Evidence from Ethiopia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-04) Buehren, Niklas; Goldstein, Markus; Molina, Ezequiel; Vaillant, Julia
    Extension services have been implemented on a large scale in developing countries for decades. However, there is little evidence on their impact on the productivity and welfare of farmers. Our study aims to begin to fill this evidence gap with the goal of identifying and encouraging the uptake of best practices for the delivery of extension services by governments.Our findings suggest that strengthening extension services to make them more responsive to the needs of farmers can induce a switch to more commercial, market-oriented agriculture.Female-headed households seem to have benefited equally from the extension services project but it did not contribute to reducing the gender gap in agricultural outcomes as their initial levels of wealth and consumption, as well as labor and capital endowments were lower.Additional research is required to identify extension services designs that contribute to closing the gender gap, by addressing more specifically the challenges faced by women in areas such as labor and capital endowment.
  • Publication
    Top Policy Lessons from Africa Gender Innovation Lab Research
    (Washington, DC, 2017-10) World Bank
    The study in Togo reveals that psychology-based entrepreneur training (personal initiative training) increases firm profits by 30 percent, compared to a statistically insignificant increase for traditional business training. Personal initiative training was particularly effective for female-owned businesses, who saw their profits increase by 40 percent, compared to no impact from traditional business training. Getting more women into traditionally male-dominated sectors of the economy could boost the incomes of women entrepreneurs and their households. Our study in Ethiopia revealed that firms owned by women who cross over into male-dominated sectors are two times more profitable than firms owned by women who remain in traditionally female sectors, and they are just as profitable as businesses owned by men. Women are more likely to cross-over when parents and husbands support them and when they have access to information on the higher earnings potential in male-dominated sectors.
  • Publication
    Time and Money: A Study of Labor Constraints for Female Cotton Producers in Cote d'Ivoire
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-05) Carranza, Eliana; Donald, Aletheia; Jones, Rachel; Rouanet, Léa; Rouanet, Léa
    A gap between male and female farmers in agricultural production, both in terms of output and productivity, has been largely documented across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Africa Gender Innovation Lab has produced a body of evidence, including the Levelling the Field report and the Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity report, that identified constraints women farmers face, determined the size and cost of the gap in agricultural productivity, and offered promising policy options and emerging new ideas to test. One of the key findings from the levelling the field report is that labor presents the main barrier to achieving gender equality in productivity. Across the six profiled African countries, authors observe a combination of women deploying fewer household male laborers on their plots, male laborers generating lower returns for female farmers relative to male farmers, and female farmers facing challenges in hiring effective outside labor. In this policy brief, we investigate and provide explanations for female farmers’ labor constraints through a mixed-methods study within the cotton sector of Côte d’Ivoire, as part of the Côte d’Ivoire Agriculture Sector Support Project’s efforts to increase female participation in cotton production. We first quantify the gender gap in labor usage, then look at the drivers of this gap and how they constrain women’s cotton production and productivity, and finally offer recommendations for policymakers. Several key policy considerations emerge based on our analysis, relating to labor financing and gender norms. Adopting solutions to ease female farmers’ labor constraints will not only increase their productivity, but also boost economic growth as an increasing share of the population becomes involved in the cultivation of higher-value crops.