The case of MUVA Assistentes: Beyond income generation to a new approach for women’s empowerment

This paper highlights the case of MUVA Assistentes, a public works programme (PWP) that provided training and mentoring to young vulnerable women (YVW) in urban Mozambique. Our paper draws out the main learnings from the MUVA Assistentes project to inform the design of other PWPs that have women’s empowerment as their major aim. We show through our analysis that it is possible for PWPs to achieve women’s empowerment, but only if they go beyond a sole focus on income provision through paid work to women. Instead, we argue that if PWPs formulate their theory of change in line with Kabeer (1999)’s notion of empowerment, with its three interrelated dimensions (resources, agency and achievements), women’s empowerment through PWPs can be both realistic and long-lasting.