The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Gender Norms, Labour Supply and Poverty Reduction in Comparative Context: Evidence from Rural India and Bangladesh

Research Partners:

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Principal Investigator: Wendy Olsen. Lead Organisation: University of Manchester

Co-investigators: Sohela Nazneen ; Kunal Sen; Daniel Fernando Neff; Maheen Sultan; Alakh N. Sharma; Simeen Mahmud

The project measures the gender impact of poverty alleviation interventions in rural India and Bangladesh and how this impact has been mediated through social norms. The project focuses on social differentiation of attitudes about women's work. It studies how modern and traditional attitudes affect women's work. In turn, the attitudes are affected by anti-poverty interventions. Data collection using mixed qualitative and quantitative methods first compares spatial and social differentiation in attitudes to women in rural Bangladesh and in three Indian states.

A second part of the research explains the factors influencing high and low female labour supply in India, controlling for the informal sector and for caring labour. This part uses narrow and wide concepts of labour supply, and adds new pairwise models of men and women spouses in each household. Here a series of datasets are used. These include national random-sample datasets and the World Values Survey.

Thirdly the project measures which poverty-alleviation initiatives have had the strongest direct and indirect impacts on well-being. Here a statistical mediation model is used. Primary data collection allows a socio-economic micro data set to be created with N = 450 per country and two visits per household. In addition a series of interviews adds depth to the interpretation.

The project has four pathways of impact. Each works through a different immediate audience. --1) Villagers and townspeople in the survey areas, and all those who experience Indian and Bangladeshi policy changes. In interviewing, we gather comments on the interventions themselves in the semi-structured interview. In India our focus may be on the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme plus any changes in local educational provision that affect labouring classes. In Bangladesh we focus on initiatives influencing women as entrepreneurs, workers, and farmers. By involving people in interviews, the research is much enriched and we will be wiser through using mixed methods. Although the research is not action research per se, our approach is continually to be open to discussion, available for consultations, and willing to organise focus groups not for research data gathering but for the purpose of engaging in discussion without recording so that we create a democratic and open setting for considering the difficult issues of women's work. Our ability to 'listen well' will affect the quality and usefulness of the results that we publish. Our first publication of a briefing paper will be within Year 1 based on pilots in each country. IHD staff will lead on this. --2) Policy practitioners who will be consulted at least once per year in three study areas. A stakeholder workshop in each country in Year 1 involves in-country experts and local policy practitioners by invitation. They can influence the questionnaire, interview plans, integration of men in the study, and analysis of themes. By inviting selected practitioners to data confrontation workshops in year 2, we ensure a continuing two-way feedback route for co-learning. --3) The project also influences all who are involved in or affected by the new Survey and Interviews. The research enumerators employed by the Institute for Human Development and the BRAC University Centre for Gender and Social Transformation will be influenced toward knowing more about sophisticated Survey and Interview methods as well as about gender roles, norms and attitudes. In India, too, the staff of the project can move onward into research posts with their enhanced data collection and data analysis skills. In creating a survey instrument on attitudes about gender roles, basing the questions on some existing well-known autonomy and attitude questions but also adding new indicators of the attitudes to women's in-house activities and the domestic division of labour, the project creates higher consciousness of gender issues. The integration of the survey data with interviews of both male and female adult rural residents creates new knowledge. Translation and interpretation will be exposed to scrutiny of the whole team in workshops. The project probes changing power and autonomy of women by asking what promotes it, what barriers there are, and what impact the anti-poverty projects have played. Thus gender and development policy issues are raised among the whole large teams of researchers in each country. --4) Finally this project influences academics and experts in the countries concerned. These impacts are described under 'Academic Beneficiaries' but in addition the considerable Capacity Building element includes two data confrontation workshops (one per country) and numerous training opportunities on-site in the two liaising organisations. The researchers act as role models for masters and phd students in IHD and BRAC, as well. Advanced quantitative methods and critical realist approaches to qualitative interpretation (notably critical discourse analysis) will be promoted. The use of NVIVO software will be actively encouraged among all user groups to hold case-study material. The use of advanced software will be promoted. Programmes will be shared through the public JISC online filestore platform. A JISC shared email will be created, with W. Olsen as moderator and file manager.

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Social Sciences
Fund Start Date: 
January 1st, 2014
Fund End Date: 
November 30th, 2017
Fund Currency Code: 
Fund Value: