Enhancing economic opportunities for the extreme poor: a gender transformative graduation approach
Despite Latin America's progress in reducing poverty, a quarter of its population still lives in poverty. The pace of reducing extreme poverty has slowed in recent years and inequalities, which are even more acute among rural households, persist. The poorest are still left behind and women are overrepresented among them.
In recent years, a comprehensive approach to poverty reduction known as “graduation” has been tested in a number of low and middle-income countries. The graduation approach aims to enhance the assets that allow households to become self-sufficient as well as to build capacity to cope with shocks without falling back into extreme poverty.
The first generation of graduation pilot programs were effective in reducing poverty, but they had limited capacity to be scaled up. With IDRC and Ford Foundation funding, Fundación Capital, an inclusive financing and asset-building organization focused on eliminating poverty, has made important adaptations to the foundational model so that it can be scaled up and implemented by governments. These adaptations have been assessed and studies show positive impacts. To date, more than 145,000 people are benefiting from these programs in the region.
Although 80% of direct participants of the graduation programs are women and evidence shows they are enhancing resilience and better livelihoods, these programs might fall short in promoting gender equality. This includes the need to address restrictive social norms, unequal control of resources, and unintended consequences such as potential increases in intimate partner violence.
This project will support the implementation of scalable approaches by identifying, testing, and evaluating relevant tools and practices to integrate a gender lens in “graduation” programs. It will seek to address systemic barriers, including social norms, roles, and practices that are at the core of gender inequalities.
This project will be implemented by Fundación Capital and the Lima, Peru-based Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, a think tank that advocates for poverty reduction and inclusion of vulnerable, marginalized groups. By 2020, the project is expected to reach more than 1 million people in the region. It will also inform the global graduation community of practice, with the potential to reach more than 25 countries where graduation programs are being implemented.