close search

Around the world, women join groups or collectives to provide economic and social support to each other. Existing research on women’s groups is promising, but there remain major gaps in the evidence base that hinder our knowledge of how groups operate, how much they cost, what makes them most effective, and how they can be brought to scale. The Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups (ECWG) aims to generate and synthesize rigorous evidence to guide development partners, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers in implementing and strengthening programming and policies on women’s groups. The ECWG is co-led by the American Institutes for Research and the Population Council and funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

India Self help WEC banner

The ECWG is a research consortium led by the American Institutes for Research and the Population Council, alongside the Evans School Policy Analysis and Research Group at the University of Washington, Stanford University, the Campbell Collaboration, and the Africa Centre for Systematic Reviews and the School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University, Uganda.



Meet the Organizations

Meet the ECWG team

Thomas de Hoop

Thomas de Hoop

Thomas de Hoop is a principal economist at American Institutes for Research. He is the co-principal investigator for the Evidence Consortium on Women’s groups, for which his research focuses on the synergies between economic self-help groups and social protection programs, the costs and cost-effectiveness of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission in India, a typology of women’s groups, as well as evidence syntheses on the impact of women’s groups on asset ownership, and country-specific evidence syntheses on women’s groups in Uganda and Nigeria. Previously, he conducted a systematic review on the impact of economic self-help group programs on women’s empowerment and a quasi-experimental study on the impact of self-help groups in Odisha, India.

Sapna Desai

Sapna Desai

Sapna Desai is an Associate at the Population Council in New Delhi, India. As co-principal investigator of the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups, she works on examining typologies and implementation processes associated with women’s groups in different settings, along with an evidence synthesis on the effects of integrated economic and health programs with women’s groups. She also co-leads a project to synthesize evidence, theory and field experience to develop mid-range theories on how women’s group improve health outcomes in India.  Previously, Sapna worked with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India’s largest union of women workers in the informal economy, to scale up health interventions integrated with organizing, finance and livelihoods programs in rural and urban settings.

Leigh Anderson

Leigh Anderson

Leigh Anderson is the Marc Lindenberg Professor for Humanitarian Action, International Development, and Global Citizenship at the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. She is an economist interested in how individuals living in poverty make financial, environmental, health, and other livelihood decisions, especially when outcomes are highly risky or spread over time. Her current research focuses on gender, rural poverty and agriculture, and market and policy institutions. Professor Anderson founded EPAR in 2008 and continues to direct its research.

Gary Darmstadt

Gary Darmstadt

Gary L. Darmstadt, MD, MS, is Associate Dean for Maternal and Child Health, and Professor of Neonatal and Developmental Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Previously Dr. Darmstadt was Senior Fellow in the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), where he led a cross-foundation initiative on Women, Girls and Gender, assessing how addressing gender inequalities and empowering women and girls leads to improved gender equality as well as improved health and development outcomes. Prior to this role, he served as BMGF Director of Family Health, leading strategy development and implementation across nutrition, family planning and maternal, newborn and child health.

Tabitha Mulyampiti

Tabitha Mulyampiti

Dr. Mulyampiti is a Senior Lecturer in the Gender Studies Department at Makerere University, Uganda. She is a development researcher who focuses on women's movements, social change and social transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. She was the lead architect of the National Gender Policy of South Sudan and has supported the development and review of numerous gender policies, programs and projects throughout the region. As a member of the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups, Dr. Mulyampiti serves as the project director for work in Uganda, liaising with the Gates Foundation.

Garima Siwach

Garima Siwach

Garima Siwach is an Economic Researcher at AIR where she works on impact evaluations and cost-effectiveness analyses on multiple projects across domestic and international fields focusing on employment programs, education, and women's economic empowerment. As a member of the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups, she is leading the design of costing and cost-effectiveness guidelines for women’s group programs, and conducting research on the state-specific implementation, costs and Return on Investment of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission in India. Prior to returning to graduate school, Dr. Siwach worked as the director of rural initiatives with a microfinance organization in India where she designed and piloted livelihoods interventions for rural women and landless households.

Ekwaro Obuku

Ekwaro Obuku

Ekwaro Obuku is a founder and coordinator of the Africa Centre for Systematic Reviews and Knowledge Translation (Africa Centre) and the Uganda Clearing House for Health Policy and Systems Research, both at the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University. He completed medical training at Makerere Medical School in 2003, after which he worked with disease control programs for TB and HIV in Uganda before focusing on research and evidence syntheses at the Africa Centre. Further, in 2010 Ekwaro graduated with a Master of Science in Clinical Trials from the University of London where he currently tutors systematic reviews and meta-analysis. He is completing his PhD in health policy at Makerere University. As a member of the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups, he contributes to the evidence synthesis on women’s groups in Uganda.

Howard White

Howard White

Howard White is the Chief Executive Officer of Campbell. He was previously the founding Executive Director of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and has led the impact evaluation program of the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group.

Howard leans towards work with policy relevance and believes in academic rigor as the basis for policy and practice.

Howard has received an award from the Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda for his contribution to evaluation capacity building in Uganda, and an award from the Government of Benin for services to evaluation. There is also an annual Howard White lecture, established by 3ie six years ago in his honour.

Sohini Paul

Sohini Paul

Sohini Paul is a Senior Program Officer at the Population Council in New Delhi. Her primary research interests include gender, health, food security and political economy. As a member of the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups, she is working on costing and cost- effectiveness analyses of women’s groups with a special focus on the National Rural Livelihoods Mission in India. She also co-leads another project to generate evidence on the implementation of school-based interventions to improve labour force participation, and ultimately economic empowerment, amongst young girls in Bihar. Prior to joining Population Council, Sohini worked as a fellow at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), one of the oldest think tanks in India, where she has led evaluations of different government welfare schemes including food security programs.

Collaborate with the ECWG

Interested in collaborating or keeping up with the latest research? For more info on potential areas for collaboration with the ECWG please contact the co-principal investigators from American Institutes for Research and the Population Council:

Thomas de Hoop, Principal Economist, American Institutes for Research, Washington DC. tdehoop@air.org

Sapna Desai, Associate, Population Council, New Delhi.  sdesai@popcouncil.org