South Asia Gender Innovation Lab



Our mission is to promote evidence-based solutions to improve gender equality across South Asia. We generate and share knowledge to inform development projects supported by the World Bank and our development partners.

What we do

Since 2015, we have supported several impact evaluations and published reports on female labor force participation and gender-based violence. Starting in 2019, we are expanding our body of knowledge on solutions to address gender gaps and support project teams who seek to turn evidence into action.

  • New research:  We carry out impact evaluations and observational studies to generate new evidence on ‘what works’.
  • Knowledge curation:  We issue policy briefs, technical papers, and synthesis reports to disseminate the latest research and knowledge.
  • Evidence to action:  We work with project teams to design evidence-based projects and interventions.

How you can work with us

Our current focus area is women’s economic empowerment in South Asia. If you work on any related topics, here is how you can get involved:

  • Share your innovative research ideas with us – we can help you scope for an impact evaluation, and support you in its design and implementation. 
  • Tell us about your projects’ needs – we can provide you with evidence, innovations, and resources to turn evidence into action.
  • Let us know your evidence-based solutions – our platform can help your research and impact to reach other researchers, policymakers and practitioners.

Our Partners                                                        

SAR Gender Lab is a program under the South Asia Chief Economist’s Office at the World Bank Group, and a collaborative effort between the World Bank’s Global Practices, researchers, and practitioners working on gender in the South Asia Region.  

Our activities are made possible by generous support from the Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE), a Multi-Donor Trust Fund dedicated to strengthening awareness, knowledge, and capacity for gender-informed policy-making.



Last Updated: Feb 15, 2019



Our publications.

Reflections of Employers' Gender Preferences in Job Ads in India: An Analysis of Online Job Portal Data This paper investigates the explicit gender bias and salary gap reflected in more than 800,000 job recruitment advertisements in the Indian job market.

Precarious Drop: Reassessing Patterns of Female Labor Force Participation in India This analysis of National Sample Survey Organization and Census data from India helps explain the decline in female labor force participation rates in India and provides policy directions on what can be done to reverse this negative trend.

Getting to Work: Unlocking Women's Potential in Sri Lanka's Labor Force Comparing women’s experience of the labor market between the years leading up to the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war (2006–09) and the years following the civil war (2010–15), this study unpacks the puzzle of women’s poor labor market outcomes in Sri Lanka.

List Randomization to Measure the Prevalence of Gender-Based Violence in Kerala (India)Using the innovative list randomization technique, this study aims to provide a more accurate estimate of the prevalence of domestic violence faced by women in Kerala.

Voices to Choices: Bangladesh’s Journey in Women’s Economic Empowerment: Focusing on the decade since the release of Whispers to Voices: Gender and Social Transformation in Bangladesh (World Bank 2008)— this study presents a comprehensive analysis of how women’s lives have changed in different domains of economic empowerment.

For the Sake of Family and Tradition: Honor Killings in India and Pakistan. The authors unravel this understudied and under-reported form of violence against women and girls with a content analysis of media literature. Findings discuss risks, protective factors, and what can be done to address such types of violence.

Effects of Household Income and Social Norms on Female Labor Force Participation in India. This paper models income, consumption, and household effects to examine an unexplored dimension of women’s decisions to drop out of or abstain from labor force in India.

 Stay tuned for new research!

Last Updated: May 29, 2019


We have a number of ongoing impact evaluations and a few others in identification stage. Visit this page for updates – we will add new material as our work program grows! 

Strengthening Women's Economic Empowerment Project (SWEEP-Afghanistan): The SWEEP project is evaluating a community-based pilot intervention that provides demand-driven training, business support services, and financial access to poor and vulnerable women in Afghanistan’s rural and peri-urban areas. The impact evaluation is a randomized cluster trial measuring improvements in economic activity, earnings, and control over resources among female project beneficiaries.  

Second Rural Transport Improvement Project (Bangladesh): The evaluation identifies gender-disaggregated impacts of improving rural accessibility and strengthening rural road maintenance across 26 rural districts in Bangladesh with close 22 million beneficiaries. Areas of investigation focus on labor force participation, income, decision-making, and mobility.   

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Rural Roads Project (India): This difference-in-difference impact evaluation captures the changes in women and men’s access to work, education, health, and mobility from increased physical connectivity in rural road infrastructure. The impact evaluation focuses on three Indian states: Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Punjab Rural Water and Sanitation Program (India): A randomised controlled trial is estimating the causal impact of community-led sanitation interventions on improvements in hygiene and health outcomes among men and women in the northern state of Punjab in India.

Skills Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement Operation (STRIVE-India): The Lab is working with the project team to design pilot interventions to improve women’s access to high quality market driven skills training via India’s state-owned Industrial Training Institutes.

Last Updated: Feb 14, 2019

Getting Sri Lanka’s Women to Work


Emcet Oktay Taş
Senior Social Development Specialist