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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Gender and Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: Review of Constraints and Effective Interventions

2023-07-13, Buehren, Niklas

Raising agricultural is essential to boosting gross domestic product (GDP), reducing poverty, improving food security, and achieving structural transformation across Africa. Yet, Africa’s agricultural intensification has not kept pace with that of other developing regions. One significant and costly inefficiency undermining the region’s progress is the pervasive gender gap in agricultural productivity. This gender gap represents not only a substantial impediment to growth in the agricultural sector but, moreover, a forgone opportunity to increase national income and reduce poverty at the regional level. To address the productivity gender gap and realize the potential of African agriculture, establishing a clear understanding of the gender specific constraints hindering the productivity of women farmers is crucial. This paper develops a conceptual framework for thinking about the gender gap in agricultural productivity, reviews evidence on the effectiveness of policies and interventions designed to address the constraints faced by women farmers and proposes a research agenda to move the policy debate forward. Section II provides an overview of the agricultural gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa. Section III presents a framework that establishes linkages between the choices that women farmers make, the constraints and contextual factors influencing their decisions, and the agricultural outcomes they achieve. Section IV identifies the constraints that women farmers face, reviews the evidence on the levels of severity and relative impact of these constraints on productivity, and highlights existing approaches and interventions that tackle these constraints. Section V outlines a research agenda to fill knowledge gaps and generate evidence useful to policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Section VI concludes.

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GIL Top Policy Lessons on Increasing Women’s Youth Employment

2020-01, World Bank

Young women in Africa are less likely to be employed than young men, as a result of gaps in access to resources such as skills, time, and capital, and due to underlying social norms. Adolescence is a particularly critical time to intervene, as teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school can have severe impacts on future employment and earnings with significant consequences on their lives. At the macroeconomic level, investing in adolescent girls is also crucial for Sub-Saharan Africa`s demographic dividend.

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Making It Easier for Women in Malawi to Formalize Their Firms and Access Financial Services

2019-01-28, Campos, Francisco, Goldstein, Markus, McKenzie, David

The rate of informal firms is high in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially for those that are women-owned and in the poorest countries, despite a total of 107 business regulatory reforms recorded by Doing Business across 40 economies in the region. Through an experiment in Malawi, we established an effective and replicable design to offer informal firms support to formalize, costing much less than the typical private sector development intervention. The study shows that one of the primary barriers to registration for women-owned firms is transaction costs. When registration is madevirtually costless, an overwhelming number of women-owned firms (73 percent) choose to register. However, when offered the chance to engage in costless registration for taxes, almost no firms select to pursue this opt ion. Combining business registration with an information session at a bank including the offer of a business bank account leads to an increased use of formal financial services, and results in increases in women owned firms sales and profits of 28 percent and 20 percent respectively. On the other hand, business registration on its own is not as effective in improving access to financial services and does not result in enhanced sales and profits.

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Overcoming Behavioral Biases in Job Search: The Value of Action Planning

2018-04, Carranza, Eliana, Pimkina, Svetlana

Job search is a largely self-regulated process, subject to behavioralbiases that lead to sub-optimal search and employment outcomes.Within this context, we designed, implemented and tested anaction-planning tool to promote greater job search intensity.We find that action planning helps unemployed youths to follow through on their job search intentions, and adopt a more efficient and effective search strategy. Greater search efficiency and effectiveness translates to sizeable improvements in employment outcomes. Given that a rising number of young people globally are not enrolled in education, employed, or searching for work it is particularly important to understand how to optimize the job search process. There is suggestive evidence that in the presence of high and persistent unemployment, South African youth are becoming increasingly discouraged in their job search.

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Top Policy Lessons in Agriculture

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.

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Empowering Adolescent Girls in a Crisis Context: Lessons from Sierra Leone in the Time of Ebola

2019-07, Bandiera, Oriana, Buehren, Niklas, Goldstein, Markus, Rasul, Imran, Smurra, Andrea

In Sierra Leone, the empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents (ELA) initiative sought to enhance adolescent girls’ social and economic empowerment by providing life skills training, livelihood training, and credit support to start income-generating activities. The Ebola crisis occurred during the project, resulting in curbed implementation. In contrast, younger girls (12 to 17 years old) who resided in communities that benefitted from the program in high Ebola disruption areas were more likely to be in school and saw their numeracy and literacy levels improve. However, as younger women spend less time with men in the presence of ELA, men likely shift their attention to older girls: the evaluation finds an increase in unwanted and transactional sex by older girls in areas highly exposed to the Ebola crisis. As the program was implemented, the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone. First, in an effort to stem the spread of the disease, the government-imposed quarantines, limited travel, and closed public spaces such as markets in certain areas, which significantly impacted the economic activities of men and women. Second, schools were closed for an entire academic year. Finally, Sierra Leone’s limited health resources were diverted into caring for patients and preventing the spread of the epidemic, limiting their ability to attend to other issues such as sexual and reproductive health. These results show how safe spaces interventions can be effective even in the face of large-scale shocks such as Ebola crises as seen in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, as well as other shocks constraining economic and social life, by buffering girls from the adverse effects of crises.

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Africa Gender Innovation Lab Ethiopia Gender Diagnostic: Building the Evidence Base to Address Gender Inequality in Ethiopia

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.

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Reducing the Agricultural Gender Gap in Cote d'Ivoire: How has it Changed?

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.

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What Are the Economic Costs of Gender Gaps in Ethiopia?

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.

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Can Job Training Decrease Women's Self-Defeating Biases? Experimental Evidence from Nigeria

2018-10, Croke, Kevin, Goldstein, Markus, Holla, Alaka

Gender-based occupational segregation – where women are concentrated in low-paid or low-profit sectors – is a non-trivial source of the gender wage gap worldwide, accounting for as much as 50 percent of the gap in some countries (World Bank 2011). There is evidence that women's biases about their own potential can affect their performance and aspirations. Through an experiment in Nigeria, we found that an information and communications technology (ICT) training resulted in university graduates being 26 percent more likely to work in the ICT sector.