Dear WEESA Community Members,

This month, the WEESA Community of Practice explores resources that help us unpack the potential of anti-poverty programmes in South Asia. Particularly, we look at anti-poverty programmes that transfer productive or non-productive tangible assets to women as part of bundled interventions. Other interventions may include mentoring, training, and basic health services. Asset transfer programs provide poor beneficiaries with bundled interventions that aim to help them overcome constraints that prevent them from “graduating” out of poverty traps. These bundled transfer programmes have the potential to increase women’s economic participation and income from productive activities; however, evidence regarding empowerment has been mixed.

This newsletter includes publications and blogs that shed light on ultra-poor programs and the impact of asset transfers on women’s welfare. We also include recent events that break down the design and methodology of transfer programs.

Happy reading!
Najaf Zahra
Spotlight
Webinar: Women's Groups in South Asia: Landscape, Impact, and the Future
Co-organized by the South Asia Gender Innovation Lab (SAR GIL) and the Evidence Consortium on Women's Groups (ECWG), the webinar presented findings from three streams of work supported by SAR GIL.
  • A typology of women’s groups in South Asia with a particular focus on the design frameworks, implementation modalities, and composition of groups.
  • Findings from a recent systematic review that assesses the impacts of SHG interventions on women’s economic participation and empowerment outcomes in South Asia.
  • Implementation and design experiences from the Strengthening Afghan Women’s Economic Empowerment Project (SWEEP) in Afghanistan.
Visit the event page to view the recording and presentations.
Featured Resources
Why Do People Stay Poor?
This paper explores the existence of poverty traps, including the underlying factors that prevent poor communities from getting out of it. Moreover, it also discusses the need to incorporate one-off asset transfers in anti-poverty programs to enable beneficiaries to move into more productive occupations. Read more  here
Randomized Control Trials and Qualitative Evaluations of a Multifaceted Programme for Women in Extreme Poverty: Empirical Findings and Methodological Reflections
Using design, implementation, and impact findings from two asset transfer programs in West Bengal, India, and Sindh, Pakistan, this paper explores the effectiveness of RCTs to pick up impacts. Read more here
The Gender Transformative Potential of Graduation Programs
This paper discusses the extent to which asset transfer programs have been successful in sustainably empowering women. This includes women realizing their full potential, increased agency, and the ability to challenge entrenched gender and cultural norms that prevent women from being productive agents in the economy and beyond. Read more here
Blogs
What Does it Take to Empower Ultra-Poor Women?
To make sure projects reach the intended target population, researchers need a better understanding of what works and for whom. This blog discusses how researchers can ensure that asset transfer programs not only reach vulnerable women—it also addresses the needs of the target beneficiaries. Read more here
Are Economic Inclusion Programs a Pathway Out of Poverty?
In light of the growing evidence of economic inclusion interventions for women, (particularly, the ones that transfer assets) this blog looks at impact sustainability, intervention design, and scale-up. Read more here
Should Graduation Programmes Replace the more Conventional Cash Transfers?
This blog explores the effectiveness of asset transfer programmes in comparison to cash transfers in the context of Pakistan. Read more here 
Virtual Events
Past Events: 
Empowering Ultra-Poor Women: Learning from Graduation Approaches
This event brings together experts to explore the potential of bundled asset transfer programs in empowering women. Based on identified gaps in research and lessons from project implementation, experts shape the future agenda for anti-poverty programmes for women. 
View the recording
 
Adapting the Graduation Approach for People with Disabilities: Opportunities and Challenges

The success of TUP bundled programs has encouraged adaptations of the model to other population types with different needs. This webinar discusses the potential of replicating such programs for people with disabilities.
View the recording


Can Asset Transfers Help Women Escape Extreme Poverty? | LSE Research Showcase 2022 
In this webinar, Naila Kabeer explores the importance of asset transfers for women’s empowerment in the context of an NGO implemented program in West Bengal—particularly,  issues related to the sustainability of impact and beneficiary targeting are explored as well.
View the recording


Upcoming Events: 
Innovations in Gender Transformative Evaluations: Experiences and Learnings from South Asia, Brazil, Mexico, and South America | June 2, 2022 | 8:30 AM EDT
Four examples illustrate innovative gendered and equitable evaluative practice and knowledge generation. In Brazil, evaluators used social innovation theory to investigate the role of women leaders in gender transformation. In Mexico, evaluators used the Gender Perspective, a diagnostic evaluation to transform and improve public policies and projects, and evaluation practices. South Asian evaluators discuss effective and contextually relevant evaluation practices to address masculinity and patriarchy. And finally, an innovative methodological tool assessed gender equality practices in four women-led private companies from four South American countries.

Register for the event
What We Are Watching
SAR GIL Featured Scholar Series: Impact Evaluation of Targeting the Ultra Poor Program in Afghanistan
Scholars share key takeaways and implementation experiences from a SAR GIL support impact evaluation of the Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) Project in Afghanistan.
Featured Scholars: Aidan Coville, Senior Economist DEC (Development Economics and Chief Economist) World Bank Group, and Guadalupe Bedoya Arguelles, Senior Economist DEC (Development Economics and Chief Economist) World Bank Group. View the vlog 
here
Job Vacancies
Asian Development Bank - Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Expert for the Maldives
Location: International Deadline: June 3, 2022
UN Women - Gender Coordination Officer
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka Deadline: June 5, 2022
Location: India  Deadline: June 7, 2022
UNICEF - Gender Programme Specialist Dhaka, Bangladesh
Location: Dhaka, Banladesh Deadline: June 12, 2022
About Us
WEESA is a knowledge community designed with the goal of strengthening the linkages between evidence and action by curating evidence on “what works,” amplifying local voices and knowledge and enhancing local capacity on women’s economic empowerment in the region through small grants for local organizations and researchers. 

WEESA is hosted by the World Bank’s 
South Asia Region Gender Innovation Lab (SAR GIL), a solutions platform for gender equality, supported by the Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE) and the South Asia Regional Trade Facilitation Program
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