Social gender norms and women's resilience under income shocks

Evidence to support women’s economic resilience and empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

PEP has launched a two-year research initiative to investigate the role of local social gender norms in shaping the decision-making and resilience strategies adopted by families and communities to respond to adverse income shocks. 

This project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will focus on two countries: Malawi and Benin.

Advancing women's economic empowerment

As part of our commitment to promoting gender equality, this research initiative will generate concrete policy recommendations for enhancing women's resilience to income shocks. 

Through ongoing engagement with relevant policy stakeholders, our evidence-based findings will contribute to fostering gender-responsive policymaking, strengthen the capacities of local researchers to produce high-quality, policy-relevant evidence, and inform the (re)design of policy measures to support women's economic empowerment (WEE).

Addressing local needs

Collaboration is central to this initiative, with local researchers working in consultation with national stakeholders to address country-specific dimensions and issues. By actively engaging with policy stakeholders and government institutions throughout the research process, we can ensure our work effectively responds to the needs of target countries.

In Malawi and Benin, the norms and traditions of vulnerable communities have a significant impact on their ability to cope with economic shocks. These factors can disproportionately hinder women's economic empowerment. As cultural norms often assign specific roles and behaviours to men and women, these roles can make it difficult for households to adapt and recover from financial setbacks. In particular, women face barriers accessing resources, education, and employment opportunities that could strengthen their financial resilience, as a result of societal expectations.

However, there's a knowledge gap in understanding how these social norms impact the ability of individuals to adopt effective solutions. 

By examining the effects of social norms and enhancing resilience strategies, PEP believes this initiative will help to empower communities, particularly women, so that they can navigate and recover from economic challenges.


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