Impact Evaluation of Women for Women International’s Economic and Social Empowerment Program in Afghanistan
Women for Women International has been implementing its intensive 12-month economic and social empowerment program in Afghanistan since 2002. As part of the DFID-funded What Works to Prevent Violence Programme, the South African Medical Research Council undertook an individually randomized control trial (RCT) in six communities in Kabul and Nangarhar Provinces in Afghanistan from 2016 to 2018. The two-year long RCT investigated how our program affected women’s income and savings, household wellbeing, gender equitable attitudes, and experiences of intimate partner violence.
The research showed that there was a significant impact on women’s social and economic well-being a year after graduating from our program. Compared to women who did not receive the intervention, women in the program were nearly twice as likely to be earning money and seven times more likely to have savings. Women in the program also experienced more equitable gender attitudes, increased food security for their families, increased freedom to travel, and more decision-making power in their households.
The study also found that the intervention reduced intimate partner violence among those with moderate food insecurity, but did not reduce risk in overall population. While the research showed that Women for Women International’s program did not significantly reduce intimate partner violence in the study population, it is important that there was no increase in IPV. In a context that seems to be worsening for women overall, it is possible that the combined social and economic empowerment approach may have helped mitigate risks. Further inquiry and learning is planned to investigate this more.
This independent research demonstrates that Women for Women International’s intervention leads to significant positive changes in women’s social and economic empowerment. Additionally, the research provides lessons to help further refine the model to strengthen its effectiveness on reducing violence.
See our post on the "Measured and Proven Impact on the Lives of Women Survivors of War." Download the evidence brief for more information and results.
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This intervention trial was a collaborative project of Women for Women International and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). The research was led by Prof. Rachel Jewkes with Dr. Andrew Gibbs, Dr. Esnat Chirwa, and Dr. Julienne Corboz of SAMRC. This research was conducted under the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Global Programme funded by UK aid from the UK government. The views expressed in the linked documents are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the UK government.