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Expanding women’s economic opportunities benefits both women and society. While these benefits are increasingly well understood, much less is known regarding the most effective interventions to empower women economically. Updated evidence presented in the full Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design report yields useful insights on the interventions that may contribute to women’s economic empowerment.
Revisiting What Works updates the evidence first published in the 2013 Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment and, as with the Roadmap, privileges short-term interventions that the private sector can sponsor and undertake. The Roadmap used rigorous evidence from 136 evaluations to identify proven, promising, high-potential and unproven interventions to increase women’s productivity and earnings in developing countries. This update revisits the accuracy of these ratings in light of 96 new studies that have been published since 2013. Following the Roadmap, it asks what credibly works for women entrepreneurs, farmers and wage workers in developing countries, and for whom—all women, very poor, poor, non-poor women and young women. Additionally, it identifies possible underlying mechanisms and summarizes those mechanisms in terms of a causal chain of measurable direct, intermediate and final outcomes. Lastly, it identifies aspects of smart design that can increase the effectiveness of interventions aimed at economically empowering women by addressing gender-specific constraints they face.