At the end of 2016, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation blog, Impatient Optimists, published findings from CARE’s data on community groups, to see what was most effective for women’s economic empowerment. CARE Tanzania’s LINK Up and Pathways programs - both generously funded by the Gates Foundation - contributed to the data analysed, and the findings were overwhelmingly to involve men, but put women in charge.

Groups that had roughly equal numbers of men and women participating, but women leaders, were the most successful. The next most successful was balanced participants and balanced leaders. Groups without women leaders were least successful.

  • Women in collectives with a gender balance and both male and female leaders, show the highest improvement in production - up to a 29% improvement.
  • Regardless of the program’s goals, mixed gender groups with women leaders are able to achieve those outcomes more than three times more effectively than the average collective. By contrast, women in mostly male groups with male leaders are likely to see results nearly four times worse than the average group.

The findings show that collectives - including Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) groups – have accomplished great improvements for women’s economic empowerment:

  • Women involved in one of CARE’s projects with collectives see an average increase in income of 9.8% per year. (57% more than women in similar communities who do not have CARE projects according to the World Bank).
  • Women in collectives with women leaders are nearly twice as likely to be economically empowered and have control of their income as women without access to collectives.
  • A typical woman outside of a collective can only access half of the resources that men do in her community. This limits her production, her income, and her opportunities.

Read the full blog post on the Impatient Optimists site.