Cash for Women's Empowerment? A Mixed-Method Evaluation of the Government of Zambia's Child Grant Programme
The empowerment of women is an often-cited objective and benefit of social cash transfer programs in developing countries. Despite the promise and potential of cash transfers to empower women, the evidence supporting this outcome is mixed. In addition, there is little evidence from program that have gone to scale in sub-Saharan Africa.
This paper reports findings from a mixed-methods evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged 0 to 5. Results show potential for national, poverty-targeted, unconditional, government-run programmes in Africa, to improve the well-being of female beneficiaries.
The program included a quantitative component (a four-year longitudinal clustered randomized control trial in three rural districts) and a qualitative component (a one-time data collection involving in-depth interviews with women and their partners). Qualitatively, we found that changes in intrahousehold relationships were limited by entrenched gender norms, which indicate men as heads of household and primary decision-makers. However, women’s narratives showed the transfer did increase overall household well-being because they felt increased financial empowerment and were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. The paper highlights methodological challenges in using intrahousehold decision-making as the primary indicator to measure empowerment.