Economic empowerment

Researching women's economic empowerment


Sisters Ink has just been awarded a contract to support IDRC with an internal learning evaluation on the research funded to support youth and women’s economic empowerment. Nanci led a Mid-Term Evaluation for part of this program, GrOW. There were 14 research partnerships between North-South, South-South research agencies and universities. 

Highly rated research partnerships (quality; building local capacity; positioning for policy influence) had strong coherence between qualitative and quantitative methods, clarity on policy uptake and good governance marked by complementarity of partners, a mix of scientific rigour and context knowledge with at least one partner having a track-record for evidence-based policy research. Smaller mixed North-South partnerships with two partner institutions both academe and practitioner as well as academic North-South partnerships demonstrated stronger early results than larger consortiums and research projects only based in the South. 

What is the role of research in redressing power dynamics? The program demonstrates that the three outcomes (quality research; building local capacity; policy influence) can be mutually reinforcing but cannot be assumed. 

Reducing vulnerability in HIV vulnerable youth, orphans and vulnerable children


Sisters Ink did a contract for FHI360 to review evidence related to evaluations and research on financial education for HIV vulnerable youth, orphans and vulnerable children. Evidence was limited in both scope and strength. However, a combined effect was found on HIV-related outcomes particularly programs integrating financial education with sexual and reproductive health supports. 

Not nearly enough is known about the various program and contextual “levers” that led to improved economic or health outcomes. Sometimes they are related. For example, we know that peer and trusted adult counselling can help. However, we don’t know how community-based programs compare to schools, for example. We need more studies to better understand the role that “self-efficacy” or agency plays in linking economic strengthening supports with asset building.