In this edition of the MENASP’s Policy Innovation Case Studies, Racha Ramadan, associate professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science – Cairo University (Egypt), writes about the flagship conditional cash transfer programme of the Egyptian government “Takaful” with a special focus on women’s empowerment.
Conditional cash transfer (CCT) is a social policy tool that is used to reduce poverty and ensure investment in the human capital of poor households. Around the world, many of these programs target women and the conditions they stipulate mainly focus on the human capital of children in the household. In 2015, Egypt implemented a new conditional cash transfer programme called “Takaful”, which targets women decision-makers within poor households, using geographical targeting and Proxy Means Testing (PMT). The impact evaluation of the program conducted by theInternational Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI) shows that the cash transfer improves the quality of the beneficiaries’ diets, resulting in better health conditions. Additionally, the beneficiaries use the cash transfer to spend more on education (Breisinger et al 2018). Cash transfer (CT) is assumed to empower women by increasing their access to financial resources and increasing their bargaining power (Tabbush 2010; Ambler and De Braw2017). However, the impact of “Takaful” programme on women’s empowerment within the household was not conclusive. This impact depends on the methodology, the indicators used as well as the households’ characteristics (Breisinger et al 2018). These mixed results can be explained by the multidimensional nature of women’s empowerment, the complexities of its empirical measurement and the importance of the social context.