Cash for Women's Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia's Child Grant Program

Juan Bonilla, Rosa Castro Zarzur, Sudhanshu Handa, Claire Nowlin, Amber Peterman, Hannah Ring, David Seidenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 3 Citations

Abstract

The empowerment of women, broadly defined, is an often-cited objective and benefit of social cash transfer programs in developing countries. Despite the promise and potential of cash transfers to empower women, the evidence supporting this outcome is mixed. In addition, there is little evidence from programs at scale in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia's Child Grant Program, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged zero to five. The quantitative component was a four-year longitudinal clustered-randomized control trial in three rural districts, and the qualitative component was a one-time data collection involving in-depth interviews with women and their partners stratified on marital status and program participation. Our study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole or joint decisions (across five out of nine domains); however, impacts translated into relatively modest increases in the number of decision domains a woman is involved in, on average by 0.34 (or a 6% increase over a baseline mean of 5.3). Qualitatively, we found that changes in intrahousehold relationships were limited by entrenched gender norms, which indicate men as heads of household and primary decision makers. However, women's narratives showed the transfer increased financial empowerment as they were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. We highlight methodological challenges in using intrahousehold decision making as the primary indicator to measure empowerment. Results show potential for unconditional cash transfer programs to improve the financial and intrahousehold status of female beneficiaries, however it is likely additional design components are need for transformational change.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages55-72
Number of pages18
JournalWorld Development
Volume95
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

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Zambia
empowerment
grant
evaluation
marital status
caregiver
evidence
savings
programme
woman
evaluation method
Cash
Government
Mixed methods
Evaluation
Women's empowerment
decision maker
poverty
gender
developing world

Keywords

  • Africa
  • cash transfers
  • decision making
  • women's empowerment
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

Cash for Women's Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia's Child Grant Program. / Bonilla, Juan; Zarzur, Rosa Castro; Handa, Sudhanshu; Nowlin, Claire; Peterman, Amber; Ring, Hannah; Seidenfeld, David.

In: World Development, Vol. 95, 01.07.2017, p. 55-72.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bonilla, Juan ; Zarzur, Rosa Castro ; Handa, Sudhanshu ; Nowlin, Claire ; Peterman, Amber ; Ring, Hannah ; Seidenfeld, David. / Cash for Women's Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia's Child Grant Program. In: World Development. 2017 ; Vol. 95. pp. 55-72
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