Gender Equity in Development
Innovation in research to reduce gender bias in development
Increasing women’s empowerment is a crucial component of development. Not only does empowerment directly improve women’s autonomy and wellbeing, but it also provides indirect benefits for child health, community engagement, education, etc. Women face a number of challenges that limit their empowerment, including a lack of household decision-making power, insufficient land rights and control of agricultural resources, and high barriers to labor market entry and free mobility.
AidData seeks to utilize its proven track record of expertise and innovation in Geospatial Impact Evaluations (GIEs), geospatial data, machine learning, remote sensing, causal impact evaluations, and policy research to understand and address these challenges. Our team will utilize these tools to improve the measurement of gender-related outcomes and provide insight into the key issues facing women’s empowerment.
Gender-related outcomes are often difficult to measure accurately and precisely with traditional survey techniques, which reduces policymakers’ and practitioners’ ability to understand the full impact of policies to boost women’s empowerment. AidData seeks to improve the measurement of gender-related outcomes by characterizing measurement error through a combination of on-the-ground survey techniques, remote sensing, and behavioral games. By understanding the extent and nature of measurement error in surveys and how it relates to gender, we can provide recommendations on how to reduce it moving forward.
Measuring women’s empowerment with traditional survey techniques may be insufficient in contexts where it is too costly to implement or it is unsafe or difficult for women to participate freely in surveys. AidData seeks to investigate where and when satellite imagery, remote sensing, and machine learning can supplement on-the-ground measurement of women’s empowerment. The goal of this work is to understand which gender-related outcomes can be measured entirely or partially through remote sensing and machine learning and under what conditions.
Empowerment and hidden bias
Bargaining within households impacts a woman’s control over resources, her personal independence, and her risk of experiencing intimate partner violence. Development programs frequently lack baseline and follow-up data to evaluate whether their projects made a difference in women's bargaining power. Unfortunately, even when data does exist, it may reflect a hidden gender bias, due to intra-household dynamics.
AidData and its local partners seek to combine on-the-ground survey techniques, remote sensing, and behavioral games to understand the extent of measurement error in self-reporting, and how development projects intentionally and unintentionally impact household bargaining and intimate partner violence.
Farming and land rights
Women’s land rights are often curtailed by local laws and customs that limit a woman’s ability to own property in her name, include her name on titles with her husband, and choose the types of crops to grow. What's more, women lack equitable access to arable land, formal training, and agricultural inputs.
By combining household surveys and high-resolution satellite imagery, we can better understand how property rights, relationships, levels of empowerment, and access to agricultural inputs might impact a range of outcomes—from crop yields for to household bargaining power—providing insights for programs and policy makers.
Employment, mobility, and security
When commuting to work, women endure threats to their health and safety and spend more time and money than men do. Helping women overcome these and other barriers to employment not only increases resources within their households, but may also increase their bargaining power and reduce intimate partner violence.
By improving data on the ground and leveraging remote-sensed data, our research team seeks specific insights that help programs focus their resources on improving a wide range of outcomes—whether the goal is helping women gain access to marketable skills or improving public safety so that they can return home safely.
Gender-Related Measurement Error
Along with a local partner, CDD Ghana, AidData is combining on-the-ground survey techniques, remote sensing, and behavioral games to understand how to make household surveys more effective. AidData is quantifying the extent of measurement error in self-reporting on agricultural plot characteristics in Ghana, how this error differs by gender and by owner of the plot, and how it differs by household bargaining power and income hiding within the household. This information will inform how self-reports of assets may differ among members of households and how future surveys could correct for this bias.
School-Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV)
With support from the Government of Canada and USAID's Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), and in partnership with Together for Girls and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AidData conducted a secondary analysis of the Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) data to identify the prevalence of SRGBV, as well as details on violence perpetration, victimization risk and post-violence behaviors in selected countries. This methodology can be used to understand the prevalence of physical and sexual SRGBV across all countries for which the VACS was conducted and has been used to inform policymakers, practitioners, and researchers for better violence prevention.
Featured Blog Posts
AidData wins award from USAID’s Equitable AI Challenge for project on gender bias in AI-created poverty measures
The award will fund an assessment of the impact of gender bias on AI-generated poverty estimates.
New research on how gender differences and power dynamics drive measurement error in household surveys
Agricultural program evaluations depend on accurate household surveys, but couples will often give different answers to an objective question, like the size of an agricultural plot. How can this error be reduced?
Lab-in-the-field: AidData and CDD-Ghana partner on research to evaluate household impacts of dams in Ghana
Researchers leading AidData’s Gender Equity in Development Initiative work with local partner in Ghana to collect gender-disaggregated geospatial data and better understand measurement error in agricultural impact evaluations.