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CGD’s work on gender focuses policies in aid, development finance, trade, migration and peacekeeping that will improve women’s economic empowerment worldwide.
Greater equality drives big gains in health, education, employment, and improved livelihoods—for individuals, their families, and their communities. However, in many parts of the world, women and girls, and other marginalized groups including LGBT people, still face legal, economic, and political constraints that prevent them from participating fully and equally in society. CGD uses evidence to show how governments, donor institutions, and the private sector can help create conditions in low- and middle-income countries that allow all people to thrive.
On December 7, 2017, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Government of Canada, gave a keynote address at the the third annual Birdsall House Conference on Women, "Reproductive Choices to Life Chances: The Links between Contraception and Women’s Economic Empowerment."
Although family planning programs can improve women’s welfare directly through changes in realized fertility, they may also have important incentive effects by increasing parents’ investments in girls not yet fertile. We study these potential incentive effects, finding that family planning may have raised raise girls’ educational attainment substantially. We also find that these early investments are linked to gains in women’s paid labor at prime working ages and to greater support for women’s elderly parents (a marker for women’s bargaining power within the household). Notably, these incentive effects may be larger than the direct effects of family planning alone.
There is longstanding debate about the contribution of family planning programs to fertility decline. Studying the staggered introduction of family planning across Malaysia during the 1960s and 1970s, we find modest responses in fertility behavior. Overall, Malaysia’s total fertility rate declined by about one quarter birth under family planning, explaining only about 10 percent of the national fertility decline between 1960 and 1988. Our findings are consistent with growing evidence that global fertility decline is predominantly due to underlying changes in the demand for children.
Researchers from many academic institutions and think tanks have studied the relationship between contraception and women's economic empowerment. In both the developing and developed world, the evidence suggests that access to contraception is not only correlated with but can even cause women’s economic empowerment and drive economic growth.
Women are overrepresented in the informal sector worldwide, often stuck in dangerous, insecure, low-paid jobs. Waste picking in particular is a highly vulnerable and risky form of informal employment. In 1995, India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali – a women-owned and -run social enterprise, that produces a full range of stationery products for large multinational corporations, including Staples, IBM, and Goldman Sachs. What difference has Gitanjali made to the lives and opportunities of women waste pickers in India? What are the implications for women’s social enterprises in other countries? What are the challenges that remain to be overcome? The Center for Global Development is delighted to bring together some of the key private sector partners that helped Gitanjali generate social value, along with practitioners from the public sector and multilateral financial institutions, for a robust discussion about job options for poor women in low paid, informal occupations, including a model entrepreneurship venture. The event will be informed by the CGD report, The Gitanjali Cooperative: A Social Enterprise in the Making. Copies of the report’s executive summary will be provided. Light refreshments will be available.