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Empowering Women through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan


In societies with widespread gender discrimination, development programs with gender quotas are considered a way to improve women's economic, political, and social status. Using a randomized field experiment across 500 Afghan villages, we examine the effects of a development program that mandates female participation. We find that even in a highly conservative context like Afghanistan, such initiatives improve outcomes specific to female participation in some economic, social, and political activities, including increased mobility and income generation. They, however, produce no change in more entrenched female roles linked to family decision-making or in attitudes toward the general role of women in society.

Corresponding author
Andrew Beath is Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for East Asia and the Pacific, World Bank (
Fotini Christia is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (
Ruben Enikolopov is Assistant Professor, New Economic School (
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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