Development is about big systemic changes, complex tradeoffs, political choices and how the fruits of growth are channeled for the greater good. It is also about broadening opportunities – a goal that if neglected can result in frustrated citizens and tumult as we have seen in the North Africa and Middle East.
These were some of the many messages I took away from the ABCDE conference just held in Paris.
The parallel session on “Evaluating cash transfers – Latin American and African Experiences” at the ABCDDE 2011 centred on the evaluation of social protection programs that distribute cash to the poor, a topic that has been widely discussed by members of the Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) which organised the session. In accordance with PEGNet’s focus on fostering the exchange between academics and practitioners, the session brought together experts from both spheres. All the speakers were PEGNet members and one was a winner of the PEGNet Best Practice Award for effective cooperation between research and practice.
Experiences from cash transfer programs in Uruguay and Ghana were presented by Andrea Vigorito (Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay) and Robert Osei (ISSER, University of Ghana). In the third presentation the research perspective was confronted with views from development practice by Eva Terberger (KfW Development Bank). Her presentation and the following discussion clearly showed how, in particular in the field impact evaluation, researchers in development economics and policy makers can learn from each other and how large the potential for cooperation is.
(Parallel Session 16 at the ABCDE, Paris)
Gender equality has not been achieved yet, and progress comes at a different pace across countries and across different dimensions of gender equality. In some domains, as childcare, access to some occupations and sectors, and dimensions of agency, change has been limited or negligible. Even in the domains where improvements have been widespread, as in education, the change has not reached all groups within a population or occurred at the same pace across countries.
Why improvements have come so quickly in some domains while there has been little change in others? One possible explanation that has been recently receiving much attention among the academic community is gender roles, which are in turn the result of differences in biological responsibilities and in preferences between men and women, but also of social norms.