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Gender in Practical Impact – Case Study

By Rachna Nag Chowdhuri, Senior Director (Analytics), and Ken Chomitz, Chief Analytics Officer  |   Posted 24th March 2021

Is it desirable – or even possible – to place a value on improving women’s and girls’ agency?  Yes to both, according to GIF.  We think that funders and policymakers implicitly place a value on women’s agency when they choose to implement programs that ignore gender equity – and that implicit value is often zero. To counteract that tendency, GIF making explicit the high value we accord to women’s agency and factoring that value into our investment decisions by modifying our Practical Impact (PI) methodology

In a recent blog, we discussed how the expansion of PI ensures that gains in women’s and girls’ agency, and reductions in violence against women and girls, are accounted as impacts of gender-transformative investments. In this blog, we want to use a case study to demonstrate how GIF expanded PI methodology. .

GIF recently made a $890,000 grant to Breakthrough’s Taaron Ki Toli (TKT) program to be scaled across schools in Punjab and Odisha and partnered with J-PAL South Asia to generate process evaluation insights on the program.  Breakthrough is a non-profit that addresses gender inequality and violence against women through its innovative TKT curriculum delivered to young adolescent students designed to change regressive gender attitudes at an age where children engage with their own identity formation and attitudes are malleable. Changing gender attitudes can have long term impact on girls’ own sense of agency and decision making, that can help them navigate critical decisions in later years, such as marriage and school completion. TKT engages boys to drive larger community impacts.

Practical Impact places a value on improved women’s agency as not just a means to better education, health and income, but an end in itself. Our forecast draws on measurements of attitude change. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) (Dhar et al, 2018) showed that the program is successful in changing gender-regressive attitudes for boys and girls and that these changes are sustained even three years after the program. The impact for boys is higher compared to girls. As girls get older, patriarchal institutions make it hard for them to maintain this shift in attitudes. With sustained attitude change, we may see long term impacts on shifting societal gender norms and reduced violence against women and girls.

GIF’s Practical Impact methodology translates these findings into forecasts of impact over a 10-year period. PI has three components – Depth, Breadth, and Probability of success of the innovation.

Depth of impact represents the average benefit per programme participant. For depth of impact, we identify two main channels to generate impacts.

  • First, the impact of girls’ own shift in attitude that increases their agency.
  • Second, the impact of change in boys’ attitude and behaviour as an indirect pathway to increase agency for girls.

Impact on boys can be catalytic to change power relations and create larger dialogue in households and communities on detrimental gender roles. We quantify these impacts by converting the change in gender attitudes measured in the RCT into a proxy for agency impacts. We account for the decline in girl’s attitudes after three years as well as the diffused impact of boys’ attitudes on girls’ agency.

The agency impacts are then converted into GIF’s single yardstick measure of Person-Years of Income-Equivalent. We can think of this measure as the “impact adjusted life years” gained due to the innovation and convert agency gains to PYI using a conversion factor that places a high value on women’s agency. GIF’s expanded PI framework includes three domains of agency – household decision making, control over body and community/political agency. For each of these domains, shifting from the lowest to the highest possible agency measure is transformational. GIF values this gain equivalent to a conversion factor of 10 PYI (or equivalent to doubling annual income for an individual over a lifetime). For scale comparison, saving a life is equivalent to 50 PYI.

Breadth of impact is the total number of children impacted by the program, after ten years. We calculate breadth by taking the total number of boys and girls enrolled in government schools between grades 6-8, who receive the TKT program. We estimate a scale up of the TKT program in between two to five states in India, with breadth ranging from 4 to 12 million children enrolled in 2030.

Probability of success of the innovation is the assessment of whether the program indeed scales to the breadth and projected impacts in 10 years. Although the program is well-demonstrated and Breakthrough is a competent and well-run organization, there are risks that must be overcome to reach the ambitious projection of 4 to 12 million children impacted by TKT.  These risks include whether funding will be available at scale, and whether the process of teacher training and supervision can continue to assure fidelity of the program’s execution as it expands to include tens of thousands of teachers.

Total impact projected for the innovation is the product of breadth, depth and probability of success. We project benefits of 380,000 to 1 million PYI per year by 2030 if scaling is successful which, after adjusting for scaling risk, that reduces to 56,000 to 164,000 PYI per year. However, there is substantial upside potential.  These projections will be revisited over time and adjusted upwards as implementation risks are resolved and if follow up monitoring shows, as we expect, positive impacts of TKT on improved social norms, delayed age at marriage, longer school attendance, and reduced violence against women and girls.