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Donations to GiveDirectly put power in the hands of recipients, 62% of whom are women. On International Women’s Day, hear directly from women and girls in poverty in Malawi about the unique ways that direct cash empowers them:

This impact is more than anecdotal; research finds that cash aid lets women improve their lives in many ways. Below, we break down the evidence by story.

Maternal & infant health

Lenita“When I was pregnant, I would fall sick [and] could not afford the fare to go to the hospital.”

Studies find that cash can: 

  • Increase the use of health facilities.[1] 
  • Improve birth weight and infant mortality[2] – one study found GiveDirectly’s program reduced child mortality by ~70% and improved child growth.[3]

Education & domestic violence

Agatha“My husband was so abusive... so I left him and went back to try to finish school.”

Studies find that cash can: 

  • Reduce incidents of physical abuse by a male partner of a woman[1] – one study found GiveDirectly’s program reduced physical intimate partner violence.[4] 
  • Increase school attendance for girls.[1]

Decision-making power

Beatrice“My husband and I always argued… about how to spend what little money we had. Now, when we receive the money, we plan together.”

Studies find that cash can: 

  • Increase a woman’s likelihood of being the sole or joint decision-maker.[1]

Entrepreneurship & savings

Anesi“With the businesses I started, I want to buy land for my children so they will never forget me.” 

Studies find that cash can: 

  • Increase entrepreneurship[1] – one study of GiveDirectly’s program found new business creation doubled.[5]  For more on female entrepreneurs, watch→  
  • Increase the number of families saving and the amount they saved[1] – one study of GiveDirectly’s program found women doubled their savings.[5] To learn about women's savings groups, watch→ 

Elderly support

Faidesi“Now that I am old, I can’t farm and often sleep hungry. I would have been dead if it wasn’t for these payments.” 

Studies find that cash can: 

  • Reduce the likelihood of having had an illness in the last three months[6] – one study in Tanzania found cash reduced the number of doctor visits made by women over 60.[7] 
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Why is it that 62% of recipients are women?

Two reasons:
- Our biggest program (large transfers) allows families to select a single head of household to receive the funds. Women often handle household spending so are slightly over-represented  as the recipient in this program. 
- We run a few specialty programs that are explicitly targeting women (e.g. this nutrition program or this cancer program)

Thank you for this post!

I really like combining the emotional access to these women's stories with the intellectual facts of the studies - often I only see people focus on the emotional side (and then I am unsure if I should really factually believe it, or it is just cherry-picked anecdotal stuff), or only on the intellectual side and leave out emotions entirely (which just leaves a whole bunch of low-hanging potential motivation go to waste), so combining the two is great!

I think it'll be great if this post is also on GiveDirectly's website, perhaps under the blogs section?

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