Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Impact of the Zambian Child Grant Program on Women's Decision-Making and Empowerment

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 2:05 PM
Brickell Center (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Amber Peterman1, Rosa Castro2, Hannah Reeves2, Claire Nowlin2, Juan Bonilla2 and David Seidenfeld2, (1)UNICEF, (2)American Institutes for Research
The majority of Social Cash Transfers (SCTs) target women as the transfer recipients, as evidence from low-income settings suggests that money in the hands of mothers leads to investments in the health, education and nutrition of children. Targeting women is also expected to increase their control over economic resources which, in turn, has the potential to empower women and improve their bargaining power within the household. Despite this potential, the evidence is mixed and is inconclusive as to whether or not transfers lead to meaningful measurable changes in women’s intrahousehold status. In addition, the majority of studies measure impacts in the short term, and using a single methodology. This is problematic since women’s empowerment could be a cumulative process that requires the passage of time, and different domains of empowerment may be captured differently using quantitative and qualitative measures. Finally, the evidence is centered around Latin American Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs), while we know less about social protection programs in Africa, and particularly the potential of unconditional programs to impact women’s empowerment. This paper evaluates the impact of the Zambian Child Grant Program (CGP) on quantitative measures of women’s decision-making, using covering randomized clustered longitudinal design, with four waves of data, collected every 12 months over four years of program implementation. The CGP is a government run unconditional transfer program, started in 2009, which gives the equivalent of $12 per month to the primary women in households residing in high poverty rural areas with children under the age of three at program initiation. Results from the main impact evaluations of the CGP show that transfers have been largely successful in meeting poverty-related targets, including reduction of extreme poverty, increasing household food security, consumption, dietary diversity and productive activities of the household, among others. We use multivariate difference-in-difference modelling to assess if decision-making has changed for recipient women, how this impact varies by baseline characteristics of women, and if results vary based on variations in survey design for decision-making indicators. In addition, a complementary in-depth qualitative study utilizing focus group methodology among men and women in beneficiary communities provides evidence on validation of measures, cultural setting in which the program is implemented and channels through which women’s empowerment is promoted (or not) by the CGP.  Preliminary results suggest that the CGP has had significant positive impacts on women’s decision-making, however that these impacts are only evident after the program has been running for multiple years. As more governments design and implement large-scale social protection programs, it is essential to understand if SCTs impact women’s decision-making, empowerment, and through which pathways these impacts are realized.

Full Paper: