Reaching New Heights: The Case for Measuring Women’s Empowerment

In the, fabulous-things-you-might-have-missed category, we came across this stunning report from CARE on one of the most successful efforts the world has seen at reducing child malnutrition.
Published in 2012, the astounding results of a Bangladeshi program named SHOUHARDO are a testament to the effectiveness of smart foreign aid and underscore why greater gender equality is the key to fighting poverty, hunger and injustice around the world. While the program itself was outstanding and integrated, it was the women’s empowerment strategies that changed the game, and brought children’s health and nutrition WAY up in ways that many other efforts had not.
As the report says: “The empowerment strategies ranged from promotion of female entrepreneurship to self-help groups where women and girls could take on taboo subjects such as early marriage, dowry and violence against women. Once reluctant to leave their homes because of harassment in the streets, the women and girls of SHOUHARDO started travelling to markets to buy and sell goods, the data showed. They began challenging men who harassed women and girls in the streets. And they played a larger role in traditional village courts, driving decisions like never before, researchers found.”
Very importantly, the results of this program show us how critical it is to measure evidence. As CARE’s Helen Gayle says: “The results also shine a light on the need for more evidence in the growing movement to empower women and girls worldwide. CARE is no exception. We’ve realized that we simply have to do more in this area. And we encourage others to join us. After all, how can you celebrate wins — or more importantly, replicate them — if no one is keeping score?”
So here’s to evidence and empowerment!
Happy Friday from Women at the Center.