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Enabling Womens Employment in Times of Crisis: Policies and Strategies Agnes R. Quisumbing International Food Policy Research Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Enabling Womens Employment in Times of Crisis: Policies and Strategies Agnes R. Quisumbing International Food Policy Research Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Enabling Womens Employment in Times of Crisis: Policies and Strategies Agnes R. Quisumbing International Food Policy Research Institute

2 Introduction Womens participation in the labor force is an important household coping mechanism Even in countries where social norms value womens seclusion, economic and other shocks drive women to participate in the labor force There is a wide range of participation in the labor force: from formal to informal employment Nature of employment, and gender-based constraints to employment, will vary across rural and urban areas, and also across countries and cultures.

3 Presentation overview Examine experience in rural public works programs in Ethiopia and Bangladesh Examine factors affecting womens labor force participation in urban Ghana and Guatemala Discuss strategies and policies that can be used to enable women to participate in paid employment in times of crisis, given specifics of culture and context

4 Public works programs Public works or workfare programs provide short- term employment at low wages for unskilled and semi-skilled workers on labor-intensive projects such as road construction and maintenance, irrigation infrastructure, reforestation, and soil conservation Used for a variety of reasons: provide income transfers to the poor enable the poor to smooth consumption against income shocks create assets by constructing much-needed infrastructure, which can also generate employment through second-round effects.

5 Gender dimensions of public works To what extent do women participate in PW? If public funds used to fund PW, women should have equal access Growing evidence that resources in hands of women have benefits on child nutrition. PW could increase womens bargaining power and improve child outcomes If women are more vulnerable to shocks, PW may provide an important consumption-smoothing mechanism We examine gender dimensions of public works programs in two countries, Ethiopia (1997) and Bangladesh (2006), focusing on program design features that affect womens employment (Ethiopia) and affect womens empowerment (Bangladesh)

6 Modalities of food aid in Ethiopia: Free distribution vs. Public works Although safety net programs in Ethiopia have evolved over time, public works (food/cash for work) programs have been a long-standing feature. Modalities of food aid in 1990s-early 2000s: food for work (FFW) and free distribution (FD) FFW: community infrastructure; payments either in cash or in kind Targeted free food aid is given to those who cannot work Current scheme: PNSP (Productive Safety Net Program), with many similar features: Employment Generation Scheme (EGS, or Public Works) Direct Support Roughly 40% of beneficiaries of the new EGS and DS receive payments in cash only; the second modality now is a mix of food and cash

7 Targeting mechanisms for FFW Administrative targeting using criteria (size of landholding, family size) Self-targeting using wages lower than market wage Community targeting whereby individuals who feel they quality put themselves up to a committee made up of community members WFP commitments to women: require 80% of food aid entitlements to be controlled by women.

8 Evidence from the 1994-97 rounds of Ethiopian Rural Household Survey (Quisumbing and Yohannes 2005) Determinants of participation, hours worked, and earnings in FFW, wage labor, self-employment analyzed using individual income module (1994-97) Supplementary questionnaire on public works in the fourth round (1997) asked about public works in the past 12 months (13 Ethiopian months), both participants and nonparticipants were interviewed. Key informant interviews (2003) to obtain more information on programmatic features in 1997. Issue of recall bias and availability of information only at village level preclude using these data in regressions, though we use them for descriptive purposes

9 Summary from analysis of individual income module (1994-97) Female dummy negative and significant by itself, but loses effect when interacted. This implies that effect of gender works through other intermediating variables Better educated females tend to participate in public works; rainfall shocks increase female participation in public works while illness shocks reduce it Minimal effect of presence of young children on womens participation in wage labor, FFW, etc. Can be explained by African labor patterns, no culture of seclusion

10 Summary from 1997 PW module Project level variables (lack of places, rationing) are the main reason for non-application and non-hiring of both men and women, although fewer women apply to begin with Gender per se not a determinant of participation, but works in interaction with other variables Program characteristics have a differential effect on womens participation. Forestry and water conservation programs increase days worked, but because wages are lower, have an insignificant effect on earnings Distance reduces the probability of participation especially for women But community leaders priorities are also important…

11 Targeting or Productivity: Conflicting Objectives in Public Works? (Gilligan et al. 2007) Traditional design of PW uses work requirement and low wage as a screening device: poor self-select into PW If poor households are less productive in PW projects, there is a tradeoff between targeting the poor and building productive community assets…implications for womens employment 13pp **

12 Understanding the social context of public works: Evidence from Bangladesh (Ahmed et al. 2009) However, it is not realistic to assume that what works in Ethiopia will work in other countries We examine findings from an evaluation of four food and cash transfer programs in Bangladesh that used propensity score matching methods Two programs are income-generating programs: IGVGD (food only) and FSVGD (food and cash) Two programs are public works programs: RMP (cash only) and FFA (food and cash) Womens participation in work outside the home is restricted because of social norms

13 Page 13 Size of Transfer Matters FFA and RMP had larger impacts on womens empowerment than IGVGD and FSVGD This could be because the size of the transfers were twice as large But it could also be related to the type of program

14 Page 14 Work requirement may increase empowerment impact of transfer programs Women feel ownership over income they earn Men value their wives more when they become income earners, since womens domestic work is under-appreciated. While FFA and RMP had a significant impact on the status of women at the household level, community level changes are slower. Some participants reported being victims of verbal attacks by other villagers since it is considered to be inappropriate for women to engage in manual labor.

15 Page 15 Form of payment could also affect womens empowerment: Cash benefits married women Receiving cash could allow married women to extend their decisionmaking authority beyond their traditional roles However, many women still feel they have greater control over food One woman reported: Money will be taken away by the husbands – Amena, Faridpur Widowed, divorced or separated women benefit from both food and cash. They are likely to be poorer; having a combination transfer assures the household of food while providing cash for other expenditures

16 Page 16 Recommendations from Bangladesh Increase the size of the transfer by reducing the number of beneficiaries (better targeting) Strengthen married womens control over cash Work with men and community leaders to increase support for the program Continue monitoring and evaluation of the programs gender impacts

17 Enabling women to participate in paid employment in urban areas (Quisumbing et al. 2007) High rates of urbanization and womens LFP are increasing demand for nonparental childcare In areas where formal sector work predominates, work and child care are competing activities Rural to urban migration means residence away from extended family of caregivers Rising importance of formal childcare

18 Findings from Guatemala City and Accra In Guatemala City, because of higher proportion in formal work, interventions to increase availability of formal daycare have the potential to increase mothers LFP, but not necessarily earnings conditional on LFP Subsidizing day care in Accra would tend to benefit wealthier moms who already use formal day care In Accra, because of higher proportion in informal work, increasing returns and job security in sectors where women are employed are more important

19 Policies and strategies to enable womens employment Address gender-specific constraints to womens employment, which may vary across contexts and cultures Child care and domestic responsibilities Low levels of schooling Perceptions that women are not productive Cultural norms regarding womens work and social seclusion Consider importance of formal vs. informal sector employment as a coping mechanism Interventions to improve conditions for working women, or to enable women to work, have to be tailored to specific settings

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