Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL)


The World Bank’s Africa Region Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) conducts impact evaluations which assess the outcome of development interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, to generate evidence on how to close the gender gap in earnings, productivity, assets, and agency.

GIL focuses on five thematic areas: Agriculture, Private Sector Development, Property Rights, Social Norms, and Youth Employment.

How the Gender Innovation Lab Works


Learn more about the services that GIL provides to project teams.



The GIL works in partnership with units across the World Bank, aid agencies and donors, governments, non-governmental organizations, private sector firms, and researchers.

This work has been funded in part by the Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE), which is a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through experimentation and knowledge creation to help governments and the private sector focus policy and programs on scalable solutions with sustainable outcomes. The UFGE is supported with generous contributions from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

GIL has advised over 100 projects in more than 35 countries, across three continents.

As of late 2018, GIL’s direct influence equaled 2.17 billion USD, calculated as the monetary value of the specific project components influenced.

Learn more about our findings in these briefs on top policy lessons in the areas where the Gender Innovation Lab works:

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    Supporting women and girls throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency response and economic recovery

    In addition to its immediate adverse impact on women’s and girls’ health and education, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to further exacerbate existing gender inequalities in economic opportunities across Sub-Saharan Africa. Women-owned firms, for example, which are primarily concentrated in informal or low-paying sectors, lack basic formal social protection that would provide a buffer against economic distress. Women farmers often have lower access to productive inputs, information, and liquidity than men—so in times of crisis, their farm productivity and food security will likely be hit hard. School closures and a reduction in health services can also interrupt the trajectories of adolescent girls at a critical life juncture. In addition, risks of gender-based violence (GBV) can be heightened during times of crisis, isolation, and confinement. This brief highlights evidence from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab and other promising research on mechanisms that can help protect the lives and livelihoods of women and girls—at the household level, in firms and farms, and during adolescence—in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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    Top policy lessons on empowering adolescent girls

    Adolescent girls face multiple challenges that restrict their horizons, often having to make decisions about employment and their fertility at an early age, and with limited formal education opportunities. With lower levels of education than men, girls are often less equipped for work. Additionally, a plethora of expected domestic responsibilities limit their time for income-generating opportunities. A range of gender innovation lab (GIL) studies across Sub-Saharan Africa have demonstrated the potential of girls’ empowerment programs to change the life trajectories of young women even across a variety of contexts. These programs typically combine community-based girls clubs, life-skills training, vocational training, and sometimes financial literacy and microcredit access, for young women. In addition to implementation in countries such as Uganda, these programs have also helped create a buffer from conflict for young women in South Sudan and during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone - showing that they are beneficial even across fragile contexts.
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    Top policy lessons on increasing women’s youth employment

    Young women in Africa are less likely to be employed than young men, as a result of gaps in access to resources such as skills, time, and capital, and due to underlying social norms. Adolescence is a particularly critical time to intervene, as teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school can have severe impacts on future employment and earnings with significant consequences on their lives. GIL findings aim to understand what programs work to increase women’s youth employment, including action planning tools to increase job search efficiency, developing skills for employability, and overcoming unconscious biases.
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    Top policy lessons on empowering women entrepreneurs

    Women make up more than half of the total number of entrepreneurs in Africa. Yet, on average, for every dollar of profits men entrepreneurs earn, women entrepreneurs earn 66 cents. Supporting women to grow their firms would translate into higher economic growth for Sub-Saharan Africa. GIL research has demonstrated the potential of certain policies to help women entrepreneurs grow their firms, such as “personal initiative training” which resulted in a 40% increase in profits for female participants in Togo, and psychometric tests to enhance access to medium-sized loans.
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    Top policy lessons in securing women’s land rights

    Land is a key productive asset for rural households in Africa—and property rights thus play a critical role as they govern the allocation of this fundamental resource. Reflecting underlying gender inequality in the society, however, customary norms confer disproportionately weaker land rights to women, feeding into a cycle that further limits their economic opportunities. The Gender Innovation Lab has generated rigorous impact evaluation evidence to determine how improved land rights can improve women’s economic empowerment. For example, GIL partnered with the Government of Rwanda to evaluate the pilot of Rwanda’s Land Tenure Regularization program. Evidence from the evaluation found that the program resulted in a boost in rural land investment for female-headed households by 19 percent—twice the increase that was seen for men. With this evidence in hand, the pilot was scaled up nationally.
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    Top policy lessons for women farmers

    Across Africa, agriculture is a primary sector of employment—and African women make up 40% of the agricultural labor across the continent. Yet women farmers face systemic barriers to their success and productivity. GIL has tested tweaks to make agricultural extension services more effective for women, and strategies to integrate women farmers into cash crop value chains.


Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL)

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Markus Goldstein
Lead Economist

Gaëlle Conille, Amy Copley, Birce Gokalp
Operations Analysts

The Gender Innovation Lab releases the datasets generated during impact evaluations for public use.
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