Last week, I wrote a little about my contiuous struggle with the word “empowerment” and what it means in the context of improving the lives of women and girls. In particular, I mentioned a few World Bank studies that examine “what works?” and how can we incorporate the knowledge of local context into our understanding of empowerment. Then, a survey by DFID came across my desk asking a similar kind of “what works” question, but posing it to researchers, practitioners, and funders. If you’re involved in research, funding, or implementation of programs that target violence against women and girls, I encourage you to take the survey and be involved in the subsequent discussion groups. For my part, I can say that my involvement with DFID (through the partnership with the Nike Foundation—Girl Hub) was extremely informative and worthwhile.
Because the survey asks about rigorous evidence, I think it’s also worth mentioning some of my own work on the subject (with Laurie Ball Cooper). While the programmatic mapping is a bit old by now (I know plenty of new programs have been put in place), I think the overarching takeaway is the same. We need more evidence about what works to reduce violence and discrimination against women and girls. Whether that’s accomplished through increased impact evaluations, RCTs, use of secondary or administrative data, or experimental ethnography, great, but we need more evidence.
All of the papers that came out of that DFID workshop are worth a read. Here’s a link to one a linkt to one more from IFPRI’s Agnes Quisumbing and Chiara Kovarik.