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
    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
    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
    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
    As Good as the Company They Keep?: Improving Farmers’ Social Networks
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-03) Leonard, Kenneth; Vasilaky, Kathryn
    Extension services have a history of being relatively expensive and not always effective. At the same time, studies show that informal social networks can be very beneficial in helping increase productivity. In Uganda, the authors tested the value of informal social networks for women farmers by connecting the least-productive 30 percent to some of the most productive women farmers in their own villages. Results show significant gains in productivity indicating that the path to better outcomes is contained within their own community. Women learned the agricultural information at least as well in a network setting as in a more intensive, formal extension setting. On average, the social network intervention was less costly and more effectively targeted women and the least productive farmers than traditional extension services. By exploiting the power of social ties, social network interventions offer a lower-cost alternative to traditional agricultural training programs and can be particularly effective at improving the productivity of women. The results of the study featured in this brief are particularly relevant to policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa, where productivity differentials still exist between males and females, and women are less frequently targeted for training.
  • Publication
    Securing Property Rights for Women and Men in Rural Benin
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-02) Goldstein, Markus; Kondylis, Florence; O'Sullivan, Michael; Selod, Harris
    Women in Sub-Saharan Africa are less likely than men to own land. They also use less land and have lower tenure security over the land that they use. This gap is costly in terms of lost productive output. The early results showed that improved tenure security through land demarcation increased long-term investments in cash crops and trees and erased the gender gap in land fallowing - a key soil fertility investment. It is important that interventions cover as much of a household’s landholdings as possible: the authors found that some women shifted their agricultural production to plots of land that did not benefit from demarcation so that they can guard these less secure and less productive plots. The rural land use plans (plans fonciers ruraux (PFR)) in Benin represent a more decentralized, low-cost approach to land rights formalization. The PFR program is innovative in its focus on the formalization of existing customary rights of individual landholders. The objectives of the program are to improve tenure security and stimulate agricultural investment in rural areas. The World Bank’s Africa gender innovation lab, in collaboration with researchers from the development research group and the Paris school of economics, set out to evaluate the PFR program’s impact through a randomized controlled trial. This study provides the first set of experimental evidence on the causal impact of a large-scale land formalization program.
  • Publication
    Costing the Gender Gap
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-12) Goldstein, Markus; Torkelsson, Asa
    In sub-Saharan Africa women comprise a large proportion of the agricultural labor force, yet they are consistently found to be less productive than male farmers. The gender gap in agricultural productivity-measured by the value of agricultural produce per unit of cultivated land-ranges from 4-25 percent, depending on the country and the crop.1 The World Bank Africa Gender Innovation Lab, UN Women, and the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative jointly produced a report to quantify the cost of the gender gap and the potential gains from closing that gap in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. This report illustrates why the gender gap matters. Closing the gender gap of 28 percent in Malawi, 16 percent in Tanzania and 13 percent in Uganda could result in gross gains to GDP, along with other positive development outcomes, such as reduced poverty and greater food security. However, it is important to stress that these potential gains do not come without cost. Closing the gender gap will require changing existing or designing new policies, which may require additional resources.
  • Publication
    Explaining Gender Differentials in Agricultural Production in Nigeria
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-10) Oseni, Gbemisola; Corral, Paul; Goldstein, Markus; Winters, Paul
    Nigeria presents a unique case study on differences in agricultural productivity between men and women. This study, which captures a comprehensive picture of agriculture across the nation, shows that female farmers produce 16 percent less per hectare than their male counterparts, when plot size, farmer characteristics, and inputs are taken into account. This gender gap is driven by the North East and Central zones located in the Northern region of the country, where female farmers are 28 percent less productive than male farmers. In this region, women, particularly those who are older, farm on smaller plots and have lower levels of key inputs, notably fertilizer and labor, which is a well-documented pattern in many African contexts. The Southern region, however, does not fit this established pattern. When controlling for key characteristics and factors of production, in the South no gender gap in productivity is observed, though female farmers will benefit from additional herbicide and female labor. The notably different patterns in these two regions of the same country provide ample space for further study. Thus, in order to decrease the country-wide gender gap in production, the authors recommend extending access to fertilizer, hired labor, and cash crops to women - particularly those in the North.
  • Publication
    Caught in a Productivity Trap: A Distributional Perspective on Gender Differences in Malawian Agriculture
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-09) Kilic, Talip; Palacios-Lopez, Amparo; Goldstein, Markus
    The vast majority of households in Malawi are involved in agriculture, and improving agricultural productivity, particularly for women, who tend to attain lower yields than men, could lead to significant poverty reduction and improvements in gender equality. This study asks two main questions: (1) exactly how great are the differences in agricultural productivity between men and women in Malawi? And (2) how much of the gender gap is explained by differences in levels of agricultural inputs vs. differences in returns to these inputs? The author trace the varying constraints faced by farmers at different levels of productivity, as well as at average productivity, a level of analysis that is crucial for designing effective interventions aimed at bridging the gender gap. We find that on average, female-managed plots are 25 percent less productive than plots managed by males. Further, the gender gap widens significantly as agricultural productivity increases. More than 80 percent of the mean gender gap is explained by differences in levels of agricultural inputs, suggesting that addressing market and institutional failures underlying these differences could have direct economic benefits.