Women’s Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa

Women in developing countries are disempowered relative to their contemporaries in developed countries. High youth unemployment, early marriage and childbearing interact to limit human capital investment and enforce dependence on men. We evaluate a policy intervention attempting to jump-start adolescent women’s empowerment in the world’s second youngest country: Uganda. The intervention relaxes the human capital constraints that adolescent girls face by simultaneously providing them vocational training and information on sex, reproduction and marriage. The findings suggest women’s economic and social empowerment can be jump-started through the combined provision of hard and soft skills, in the form of vocational and life skills, and is not necessarily held back by binding constraints arising from social norms or low aspirations.