Women’s Empowerment in Rural Community-Driven Development Projects

How can the community-driven development approach enhance women's participation?

Community-driven development (CDD) interventions rest on the principle of empowering communities. Yet, the gender-specific impacts of CDD, especially on empowerment, have not received due attention in evaluation and, more generally, in the theoretical and empirical literature. There are several reasons for this, such as: 

  • Programs may not have gender-specific outcomes as explicit objectives;
  • Even when they do indicate that they want to increase women’s participation and inclusion, programs are not very specific about which dimensions of female empowerment they can plausibly affect, which activities need to be implemented to make a difference (and in what sequence), and in which timeframe one can reasonably expect results;
  • There are few impact evaluations that measure the effects of CDD on various dimensions of empowerment in a sex-disaggregated way.

This report explores evidence of how the CDD approach can create and enhance participation and decision making when women, as well as men, are to be included in the “community” voice and choice. It reviews the theoretical and empirical literature and analyzes World Bank–supported CDD projects. Its intent is to help practitioners who implement CDD interventions more explicitly define, discuss, and integrate gender-relevant elements in the design of CDD projects; be more effective in implementing and monitoring features that may affect men and women differently; and identify meaningful indicators and information to assess gender impacts. 

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