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Empowering young women: a mixed methods approach

Health & Psychology Malawi

In developing countries, gender inequality continues to negatively affect women’s educational, economic, and health outcomes. In Malawi, 20 percent of 15-19 year old girls have at least one child. Policymakers have emphasized that cash transfer programs can be a tool for empowering women, but there is little evidence on their long-term impacts. This project uses a mixed-methods approach to determine whether and how cash transfers have changed participants’ self-esteem and future aspirations, building upon previous research in the Zomba District in Malawi. In 2008 and 2009, 1,225 school-aged girls were randomly assigned to receive either a conditional cash transfer (CCT), based on school attendance, or unconditional transfer; the comparison group received no cash transfers. Researchers are now following up with participants to identify the long-term effects of the transfers, specifically whether cash transfers empowered program participants and led to changes in their self-esteem and aspirations, and the extent to which cash transfers affected reproductive decision making. Results forthcoming.

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