Primary Education; Poverty Monitoring & Analysis; Housing & Human Habitats; Population Policies; Gender and Development
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Summary: The Results-Based Initiatives (RBI), launched in 2007, were a pioneering attempt to provide comprehensive, coherent, and rigorous evidence on effective interventions to foster the economic empowerment of women. Increasing women's access to earning opportunities, productive resources, and decision-making power can result in a more productive use of resources, more investment in children's welfare, and more representative public institutions. The RBI comprised five small pilots with built-in impact evaluation designed to identify what works best in promoting better outcomes for women as entrepreneurs, wage earners or farmers, under different country contexts. When the RBI were conceived, rigorous evidence in this area was close to nonexistent, because no systematic impact evaluations had been carried out in developing countries. This paper highlights lessons from the RBI with respect to both the impact of the interventions and dos and don'ts in the design and implementation of pilots. This paper focuses on three issues: how effective have different policy interventions been in terms of strengthening female economic empowerment? What are the main challenges involved in carrying out small-scale pilots with impact evaluations, especially with a gender focus? And what have we learned from the RBI that can help navigating these challenges more effectively in future interventions? The lessons learned from the RBI can be grouped under three headings: 1) risks at the design stage-including objectives and use of resources, 2) issues related to the impact evaluation methodology, and 3) the importance of adequate monitoring. Three main messages emerge. First, for a pilot to be able to generate meaningful, it is essential to align resources with expectations. Second, even minor methodological weaknesses in the design and implementation of the impact evaluation component may invalidate the findings and nullify its value. Finally, close and continuous monitoring during project implementation is essential to detect shortcomings in the design and implementation strategy. However, the impact evaluations suggest that, with the exception of Peru, the interventions did not significantly increase women's earnings and had little impact on other dimensions of their economic empowerment.
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