Discussion Sessions Coupled with Microfinancing May Enhance the Role of Women in Household Decision-Making in Burundi

Radha Iyengar, Giulia Ferrari

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Chapter in forthcoming NBER book African Successes: Human Capital, Volume 2, Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil, editors
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press
in African Successes Project

The empowerment of women within households remains a major issue around the world including in Africa. We have conducted a study in Burundi coupling discussion sessions with microfinancing to determine if they enhance the role of women in decisions regarding household purchases and the reduction of domestic violence. We compare our findings to that from a published study in South Africa that combined discussion sessions on life skills and health on reduction in domestic violence and decisions on economic issues. Both studies used randomized controlled experiments. Both studies show a trend towards increases in household authority, with the Burundi study showing statistical significance. In South Africa there was a large, albeit short lived decrease in domestic violence. In Burundi there was small reduction but trends suggest a longer duration. The effects on overall empowerment are small. These studies suggest that a more sustained use of discussion sessions could be beneficial. Future research could focus on the longer term effects of the use of discussion sessions and investigate how the observed impacts can be sustained in magnitude and duration.

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This paper was revised on August 10, 2015

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w16902, Comparing Economic and Social Interventions to Reduce Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence from Central and Southern Africa, Radha Iyengar, Giulia Ferrari
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