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Cash transfer programmes, poverty reduction and empowerment of women: A comparative analysis

ILO Working paper, December 2013

This comparative analysis aims to help generate new thinking on ways to improve the impact of cash transfer programmes on women's poverty alleviation and economic empowerment. Key findings relate to selected cash transfer programmes from five countries: Brazil, Chile, India, Mexico and South Africa. The review addresses two broad questions. First, to what extent are cash transfers alleviating women’s poverty and improving their access to nutrition, as well as health care and other social services? And second, what are the impacts of cash transfers on women’s economic empowerment?

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Raising Her Voice: The power to persuade

Oxfam, November 2013

From 2008-2013, Oxfam's Raising Her Voice (RHV) programme worked with 45 local partners, 141 community activist groups, and over 1,000 coalition members to create more effective governance systems by ensuring that women's voices influence decisions about services, investments, policies and legal frameworks, from community, through to national and regional levels. This summary draws on findings from the 2013 independent final evaluation of the RHV programme and from Oxfam's own final reporting to give just a flavour of our numerous combined achievements and impacts and shares highlights from our learning about core principles and strategies for supporting cost-effective, transformative governance work.

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Women’s Empowerment and Nutrition. An Evidence Review

IFPRI Discussion Paper, October 2013

Many development programs that aim to alleviate poverty and improve investments in human capital consider women’s empowerment a key pathway by which to achieve impact and often target women as their main beneficiaries. Despite this, women’s empowerment dimensions are often not rigorously measured and are at times merely assumed. This paper starts by reflecting on the concept and measurement of women’s empowerment and then reviews some of the structural interventions that aim to influence underlying gender norms in society and eradicate gender discrimination. It then proceeds to review the evidence of the impact of three types of interventions—cash transfer programs, agricultural interventions, and microfinance programs—on women’s empowerment, nutrition, or both.


Female Entrepreneurship Resource Point

The World Bank

Female-run enterprises are steadily growing all over the world, contributing to household incomes and growth of national economies. However, women face time, human, physical, and social constraints that limit their ability to grow their businesses. The Female Entrepreneurship Resource Point responds to increasing demands for best practices and tools to integrate gender in private sector development and entrepreneurship promotion programs, and address the needs and constraints faced by female entrepreneurs. It is designed to have two functions—provide practical guidance and recommendations, and serve as a clearinghouse of programs, emerging research and data on the topic.

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Rural Women: Policies to Help them Thrive

Farming First, May 2013

To create the key policies a rural woman needs, we must consider the many roles a woman plays. She is a farmer and a mother. She is a bread winner and probably a bread maker. She is ready to invest in her children and to steward her land. She has a wealth of knowledge and skills that are essential for nurturing and managing the environment, agriculture, local economy, family, community and culture. Yet frequently she is not consulted about policies, development interventions or education programmes that will impact her life. She faces economic and social constraints. Women account for 60 to 80% of smallholder farmers and produce 90% of food in Africa and about half of all food worldwide. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of landholders are women and they receive less than 10% of credit and 7% of extension services. Policies that address gender inequalities could, conservatively, increase yields on women’s farms by 2.5% to 4%. Women are key to food and nutrition security and sustainable development. We need to empower rural women through policies that help them in Growing, Marketing, Adapting, Caring, Connecting and Leading.


From marginalisation to empowerment: The potential of land rights to contribute to gender equality – observations from Guatemala, India and Sierra Leone

ActionAid, April 2013

For many years, activists have campaigned for women’s rights to access, control, and, where context allows, own land. This is in recognition of the fact that land is important not only for growing food or as a place to build a home. Land is also a resource that can be used to generate other forms of livelihoods, a place to belong to, and an identity. This is true for both women and men. Our hypothesis, therefore, is that if women have guaranteed, independent rights to land, they will be empowered to better enjoy all their rights. This report aims to set out initial empirical research that affirms this as a fact.


Addressing Gender and Women’s Empowerment in mHealth for MNCH. An Analytical Framework

mHealth Alliance, UN Foundation, March 2013

The proposed analytical framework for addressing gender and women’s empowerment within mHealth and MNCH programs builds on a review of existing evidence and gaps, a review of existing mHealth projects, and consultations with experts at key events. The framework is premised on the fact that addressing gender equity and women’s empowerment is critical to successfully achieving health goals and that issues related to gender equality and women’s empowerment are not yet fully understood in the context of mHealth.


Economic Empowerment: Strategies for Adolescent Girls

AGALI, January 2013

This strategy document is based on AGALI’s programmes in Guatemala, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, and Ethiopia. Economic empowerment programmes serving adolescent girls aged 12-25 utilise three main approaches: financial services strategies, employment strategies, and strategies that promote girls' life-skills and social supports. Programmes must be evidence-based for effectiveness, customised to the participants, and integrated to improve human, social, and physical capital along with financial capital, while advocating for girls in order to improve social norms and institutional practices.


Influential Leadership. Handbook for African Women

West Africa Civil Society Institute, 2012

This handbook is a training manual with eight sessions designed to guide the empowerment of African women with leadership skills. According to the publication, leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organisation in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. The handbook can be used by trainers, training and capacity building institutions, and researchers.

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Empowering Women. Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa

The World Bank, 2012 (US$29.95)

The importance of property rights in providing the incentive to invest, work hard, and innovate has been recognized for centuries. Yet, many women in Africa do not have the same property rights or formal legal capacity enjoyed by men. This book documents the extent to which the legal capacity and property rights vary for women and men, and analyzes the impact this has on women’s economic opportunities. It introduces the “Women’s Legal Economic Empowerment Database – Africa (Women LEED Africa)”, which covers all 47 countries in Sub- Saharan Africa, providing indicators and links to constitutions, ratified international conventions, and domestic statutes where there are gender gaps in legal capacity and property rights.

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Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation

UNDP & NDI, 2012

How women participate in political parties – and how those parties encourage and nurture women’s involvement and incorporate gender-equality issues – are key determinants of women’s political empowerment. They are also key to ensuring gender-equality issues are addressed in the wider society. If strategies to promote women’s involvement in the political process are to be effective, they should be linked to steps parties can take across the specific phases of the electoral cycle and to the organization and financing of the parties themselves. The most effective strategies to increase women’s participation in political parties combine reforms to political institutions with targeted support to women party activists within and outside party structures, women candidates and elected officials. These strategies require the cooperation of a variety of actors and political parties from across the political spectrum. The Guide identifies targeted interventions that political parties can take to empower women.


The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index

USAID, IFPRI, OPHI, February 2012

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) is the first measure to directly capture women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the agricultural sector. The WEAI focuses on five areas: decisions over agricultural production, power over productive resources such as land and livestock, decisions over income, leadership in the community, and time use. Women are considered to be empowered if they have adequate achievements in four of the five areas. The Index also takes into consideration the empowerment of women compared with men in the same household, based on asking women and men the same survey questions.

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Empowerment: A journey not a destination

Pathways of Women’s Empowerment, January 2012

Pathways of Women’s Empowerment is an international research and communications programme established in 2006 which links academics with activists and practitioners to find out what works to enhance women’s empowerment. It has generated a rich and varied portfolio of studies. Our findings have led us to understand women’s empowerment as a journey, not a destination. Understanding what enables women to embark on these journeys, what pathways are available to them, which routes they take, and what assists them along the way is essential if we are to support women to empower themselves.


Understanding and Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment - Definition, Framework and Indicators

ICRW, October 2011

Economically empowering women is essential both to realize women’s rights and to achieve broader development goals such as economic growth, poverty reduction, health, education and welfare. But women’s economic empowerment is a multifaceted concept so how can practitioners, researchers and donors design effective, measurable interventions? This brief report lays out fundamental concepts including a definition of women’s economic empowerment; a measurement framework that can guide the design, implementation and evaluation of programs to economically empower women; and a set of illustrative indicators that can serve as concrete examples for developing meaningful metrics for success.

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Women Entrepreneurs in Mobile Retail Channels: Empowering Women, Driving Growth

Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, 2011

This report investigates the gender composition of the ‘mobile value chain’ (MVC) in 11 different markets around the world. It examines the current level of women’s participation in the MVC and the benefits of such participation both for MNOs and for women entrepreneurs. In addition to undertaking an analysis of the MVC, we broadened our scope to encompass the wider political, social and institutional conditions in each market. We interviewed policy makers and spoke to other stakeholders who have an interest in women’s economic empowerment in the markets concerned.


Population Dynamics and Poverty in the LDCs: Challenges and Opportunities for Development and Poverty Reduction

UNFPA, 2011

This report outlines major population dynamics in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and addresses their implications for development and poverty reduction. It identifies five areas of intervention that can help countries anticipate, shape and plan for changes in their population: focusing investments on adolescents and youth; increasing access to sexual and reproductive health care and empowering women; strengthening capacity to integrate population dynamics in the framework of sustainable development; linking population to climate change; and effectively utilizing data in public policy and development.

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Strong Women, Strong Communities. CARE’s holistic approach to empowering women and girls in the fight against poverty

CARE, May 2010

Increasingly, CARE’s work focuses on addressing the injustice, discrimination and exclusion that prevent women and girls from achieving their full potential. CARE concluded a four-year study assessing programs serving women and girls in 24 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The learning from this research illustrates what “empowerment” really means for women and girls in developing countries, the obstacles they face in realizing their potential – and steps policymakers and practitioners can take to help.


Innovation for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality

ICRW, 2009

In this new study, ICRW examines how cutting-edge innovations can transform women’s lives. The report analyzes how a variety of innovations that used technology, changed social norms and strengthened economic vitality have helped women. Researchers identified seven core approaches – or levers – needed for any innovation to create meaningful change for women. They include:

  • Creating strategic partnerships among governments, the private sector and civil society.
  • Including women in the design and implementation of innovative ideas.
  • Having committed support from governments as well as efforts at the grassroots level.

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Women’s Empowerment in Pastoral Societies

IUCN, July 2009

When reading about women in pastoral societies it is common to find reference to their marginalised roles, their hardship, their oppression and their lack of power as opposed to men’s domination, men’s ownership, men’s power and associated patriarchal relations. However, pastoral women are extremely strong and powerful people. Despite the many challenges women face, they do find ways to ensure that the household’s basic needs are met; they do find ways to access resources and within the pastoral system do have ‘rights’ to ownership and use of many of them; and they do find ways to get their voices heard. This report focuses on pastoralist women from pastoral communities across the world producing a global good practice study on pastoralist women’s empowerment.

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Give Girls a Chance: Tackling Child Labour, a Key to the Future

ILO, June 2009

This report notes that while recent global estimates indicate the number of children involved in child labour has been falling, the financial crisis threatens to erode this progress. It says the danger of girls being forced into child labour is linked to evidence that in many countries families give preference to boys when making decisions on education of children. Because of the increase in poverty as result of the crisis, poor families with a number of children may have to make choices as to which children stay in school. In cultures in which a higher value is placed on education of male children, girls risk being taken out of school, and are then likely to enter the workforce at an early age.

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Rural Women Reporting

CMFD Productions/FAHAMU, March 2008

This report documents the process and key outputs of the Rural Women Reporting workshop series initiated by FAHAMU Networks for Social Justice and CMFD Productions. According to the report, rural women are rarely heard in the media; even more rarely do they actually have the opportunity to create media. The project was developed to both produce programmes that speak to the issues rural women face, and to empower those who participated through skills and confidence-building to support ways to make their voices heard. The programmes were made available to local radio stations and places where people gather, and were distributed over the internet as podcasts.


Pathways of Women's Empowerment

Pathways of Women's Empowerment links academics, activists and practitioners working to advance women's empowerment locally, regionally and through global policy processes. It wants to identify where women are achieving real gains and discover the positive and negative factors which have influenced their journey. Its aim is to make these pathways of change visible and to build on them to inspire a radical shift in policy and practice. By involving policy actors and practitioners directly in its research and learning, it hopes its work will be in itself a catalyst for change.

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From microfinance to macro change: integrating health education and microfinance to empower women and reduce poverty

UNFPA, 2006

This advocacy booklet (26 pages) calls for integration of reproductive health education with microfinance services in developing countries. It presents individual stories, case studies and dramatic findings to show the impact this combination can have on reducing poverty and improving individual lives.


Arab Human Development Report 2005 - Empowerment of Arab Women

UNDP, December 2006

Gender inequality is generally recognized as one of the main obstacles to development in the Arab Region. This volume of the Report focuses on the history and contemporary dynamics of Arab women's economic, political, and social empowerment. It details the processes in which gender impacts on Arab development while suggesting means of overcoming some of the challenges and building more equitable societies.

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Bringing Women Into Governance

CEDPA, November 2006

This handbook focuses on efforts to bring women into governance, illustrating ways that organizations and activists around the world can foster greater gender equity in civic engagement, advocacy, voting and governance efforts to improve the quality of life for everyone. Six chapters highlight key approaches to supporting women's leadership to make governments worldwide more responsive to the needs of women.

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Engaging boys and men to empower girls: Reflections from practice and evidence of impact

UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), September 2006

This 10-page text reflects on the ways boys are socialized to see girls and women as sexually subservient. It also documents lessons learned from some of the emerging experiences in engaging boys and men in empowering girls and women in diverse settings. The author argues that experience shows that men and boys can and do change attitudes and behaviours in the short-term as a result of programme interventions, and that such outcomes are, in nearly all cases, positive for the well-being of women and girls, and men and boys themselves.


Empowering Young Women to Lead Change - A Training Manual

World YWCA / UNFPA, June 2006

This resource manual is designed to enable young women to prepare and facilitate training on a host of issues that are important to them. The manual was developed by young women and contains modules on young women's leadership, economic justice, HIV and AIDS, human rights, peace, self esteem and body image, sexual and reproductive health and violence against women. The issues are complex and the publication has been developed for young women to lead themselves in learning more about the issues through fun and participatory activities and on to action. Trainings and workshops can be designed using the entire manual or pulling out modules of interest for shorter sessions. 

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Progress of the World’s Women 2005: Women, Work & Poverty

UNIFEM, 2005

This report marks the fifth anniversary of the UN Millennium Declaration and the tenth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. It argues that unless governments and policymakers pay more attention to employment and its links to poverty, the campaign to make poverty history will not succeed and the hope for gender equality will founder on the reality of women’s growing economic insecurity.


Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World

UNRISD, , March 2005

This report of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) provides a useful complement to the formal review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action that the Division for the Advancement of Women is undertaking. It is divided into four broad sections: macroeconomics, well-being and gender; women, work and social policy; women in politics and public life; and gender, armed conflict and the search for peace.

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Monitoring the Millennium Development Goals from a rural perspective

FAO Discussion Paper, February 2005

This paper offers some reflections on the monitoring process for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and highlights FAO relevant activities. It offers some recommendations for strengthening the rural component of the MDG process, because the MDGs represent an unprecedented international commitment to address the root causes, and mitigate some of the effects of underdevelopment.

The mainstreaming of gender issues into MDG goals and targets as well as reporting procedures has raised particular challenges. There is general concern that the MDGs may not accurately reflect the urgent issues of social inequality and the institutional changes that are required to achieve gender equality.

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