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BANGLADESH: Empowerment impacts of Social Safety Net Programs on women. Gil Yaron World Bank Consultant PREM, World Bank, September 2008. Why measure empowerment?. The WDR 2000/1 identified “empowerment” as an important development objective
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World Bank Consultant
PREM, World Bank, September 2008
Role of Social Safety Net Programs (SSNP) in reducing poverty
Need to focus on the empowerment of women
One SSNP (VGD) explicitly aims to enhance the income-earning capacity and self-reliance of ultra-poor and food-insecure women, government officials identify women’s empowerment as an “additional objective” of another program (PESP). Other SSNP that provide food or income for ultra poor women may well have an impact on their empowerment
The substantial literature on women’s empowerment in Bangladesh does not treat SSNP in detail
It was possible to explore this issue by adding TFESSD funds to an existing JSDF-funded survey of SSNP being implemented by the Bangladesh Bureau of StatisticsBangladesh - motivation
The aim of the survey was to measure the empowerment impacts on women of the following SSNP:
Beneficiaries: ordered logit
All: Propensity score matching
Household questionnaire empowerment module e.g.
no difference | a small difference | a big difference |
a negative difference
Being able to resolve disputes
Membership of any local groups e.g. clubs or samitties
Being able to choose who you vote for in elections
Being able to complain to government officials
Participating in development projects
Being able to get clean water
Access to news and information
Being able to choose what work you do
Keeping children in school
Standard PSM approach
Unobserved determination & social capital
Observable proxies on information & attending beneficiary meetings + factors affecting “lobbying”
Our PSM approach
PSM implementation followed standard practice:
We distinguish asset-based agency (such as improved self-esteem) from actual empowerment outcomes (such as greater autonomy or more decision making in the household)
Source: Alsop, Bertelsen and Holland (2006)
We distinguish between: female-headed households in which the female heads are formallywidowed, separated, divorced or abandoned; and those
where women run the household without describing themselves in these terms
Need to rule out the effect of multiple SSNP (not meant to happen but 3% of the sample dropped)
SSNP had little effect on women’s social or civic empowerment (i.e. on autonomy, involvement in household decision-making and incidence of domestic violence).
Old Age Allowances and VGD may actually result in negative impacts, perhaps because increasing women’s economic assets triggers a conservative backlash from poor and poorly educated husbands. Further in-depth qualitative analysis is needed on this issue.