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The Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups (ECWG) aims to strengthen, expand, and disseminate the global evidence base on women’s groups. Specifically, we work to:

  • Generate and synthesize evidence on the impact, cost-effectiveness, and scalability of women’s groups: Guided by our learning agenda, we address evidence-gaps by generating and synthesizing evidence on the impact, cost-effectiveness, and implementation models of women’s groups in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular emphasis on India, Nigeria, and Uganda.

  • Use evidence to inform women’s groups programming in India, Nigeria, and Uganda: We work closely with partners to ensure that evidence generated strengthens program implementation. We also develop and help partners introduce robust, standardized measurement tools to determine groups' cost-effectiveness and their impact on empowerment, health, and economic outcomes.

  • Serve as an evaluation and evidence partner on women’s groups for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gender Equality Team: We work closely with the Gender Equality team’s evaluation partners and synthesize evidence at the portfolio level to inform the Women’s Empowerment Collectives strategy. We serve as an evidence partner to Program Officers of the Gender Equality team by identifying and addressing evidence gaps and extracting learnings from across the portfolio to answer key learning questions and sharing lessons and insights. We also conduct and/or support evaluations on a few specific programs.

    • Current work: The ECWG has conducted a portfolio evaluation of 46 of the Gates Foundation’s grants focusing on women’s groups. We have also synthesized evidence on women’s participation rates in savings groups in sub-Saharan Africa to inform future programming (coming soon).

Research and Resources

 

Learning Agenda

This document presents a learning agenda to guide the ECWG’s work, which will focus on synthesizing, generating, and disseminating rigorous research to inform the implementation and scale-up of women’s groups around the world. The learning agenda will inform the ECWG’s research addressing key gaps on the impact, cost-effectiveness, and the implementation of women’s groups at scale.

Learning Agenda (full version | summary version )



Completed Research

Portfolio evaluation of Gates Foundation investments in women’s groups

The ECWG conducted a portfolio evaluation, reviewing 46 Foundation investments involving women’s groups, made between 2005 and 2017. This research brief provides an overview of the ECWG’s evaluation findings, identifies evidence gaps, and provides recommendations to improve future investments and evaluations of women’s groups.

View Research Brief

Preliminary cost-effectiveness analysis of the JEEVIKA program in Bihar

The ECWG conducted a preliminary analysis of the costs and Return on Investment (ROI) of Jeevika – the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project (BRLP) in India. This research note presents findings on the costs of various program components over time and scale as well as the program’s ROI based on publicly available program and audit reports and an impact evaluation conducted by Hoffmann et al. (2018).

View Research Note

Measuring Savings Group Participation Rates in Africa: Data Assessment and Recommendations

The ECWG has produced a brief on measuring savings group participation rates in Africa. To estimate women’s saving group participation rates in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, the ECWG conducted an analysis of two established data sets on financial inclusion; FinScope and Financial Inclusion Insights (FII). This research brief reviews the findings of the ECWG’s analysis, including an assessment of the trade-offs across different data on savings group participation. The brief also provides recommendations on how triangulation of data sources could further improve the utility of research on savings groups for implementers and policymakers.

View ECWG Participation Rates Brief

Research Resources and Tools

Women’s Groups and COVID-19: Challenges, Engagement, and Opportunities

The ECWG has produced a rapid evidence brief presenting potential implications of the pandemic and related lockdown for women’s groups, with a focus on India, Nigeria, and Uganda. This brief summarizes previous evidence on groups’ responses to economic, health, or environmental shocks, and discusses potential mechanisms through which women’s groups and their functioning may be affected by COVID-19. We also present ECWG’s planned short-term and longer-term research agenda related to the impact of COVID-19 on women’s groups in the three countries.

View ECWG COVID-19 Brief

Measurement guidance on women’s empowerment and economic outcomes

The ECWG developed a guide for measuring women’s empowerment and economic outcomes to inform the community of researchers that focus on women’s groups. The guide provides a collection of field-tested survey instruments and questions for measuring women’s empowerment and economic outcomes in quantitative impact evaluations and mixed-methods studies of women’s groups, along with recommendations on how to use these tools.

View Measurement Guidelines

Guidance for estimating cost-effectiveness of women’s groups

The ECWG developed guidelines to support researchers, stakeholders, and program implementers to collect and analyze data on program costs and estimate program cost-effectiveness, with the goal of supporting better practices in cost data collection and the use of these data to inform future investments in women’s groups. The ECWG has also designed two versions of cost data collection tools – a basic version and an advanced version. These tools can be used to collect cost data of women’s group programs by defining program-specific assumptions (also included in the tools). The cost data collection tools are accompanied by one cost summary and analysis sheet, which can be used to generate cost-effectiveness estimates based on total costs and estimated impact.

View Costing Guidelines

View Cost Data Collection Tools

Ongoing Work

Systematic review on the effects of savings and self-help groups on asset ownership

Systematic review on the effect of integrated economic and health women’s group interventions in low-and middle-income countries

Cost-effectiveness analysis of the Jeevika program in Bihar

Country-specific evidence synthesis on women’s groups in Uganda