With or without him? Experimental evidence on cash grants and gender-sensitive trainings in Tunisia
Research co-authored by Assistant Professor Eric Mvukiyehe, published in the Journal of Development Economics, examines gender-sensitive financial trainings in Tunisia.
Eric Mvukiyehe, assistant professor of political science and faculty affiliate of the Duke Center of International Development, investigated the effect of including husbands in women’s financial training in Tunisia.
In “With or without him? Experimental evidence on cash grants and gender-sensitive trainings in Tunisia,” published in the Journal of Development Economics, Mvukuyehe and co-authors Jules Gazeaud, The American University in Cairo; Nausheen Khan, World Bank; and Olivier Sterck, University of Oxford; asked if 1) Is it possible to stimulate women's income-generating activities by relaxing their financial and human capital constraints? and 2) Does involving husbands help or hinder the effort?
The authors conducted a three-arm randomized-controlled trial with 2,000 poor women in Tunisia. Women in the two treatment arms were offered a large cash grant and gender-sensitive financial training. In one of the treatment arms, the women were additionally encouraged to bring their male partner to the training.
Two years after the program, the authors found the trainings that included the male partner backfired. The cash grants and trainings stimulated the women’s income-generating activities, but only when the male partners were not involved.
“Independently of partners’ participation, impacts on household living standards were overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that the program was highly cost-effective,” the authors wrote in the journal article’s abstract. “Overall, our results highlight the difficulty of stimulating women's agency in traditional societies, and suggest that involving men in women's empowerment programs can backfire.”