Academic Research

The Graduation Model and Gender Empowerment research project in Malawi

Last updated:
3 May 2022
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Author:
Concern Worldwide
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Language:
EN

Between 2017 and 2021, Concern implemented a Graduation Programme in Malawi, known locally as Tiwoloke. It was designed to address some of the key challenges faced by people living in extreme poverty by simultaneously boosting livelihoods and income, providing access to financial services, improving people’s self-confidence and tackling social exclusion.

The intervention was an intense, multifaceted intervention over 18 months, comprising training on a specific livelihood asset, an asset transfer, enhancing access to savings facilities, and time-bound cash transfers. Regular coaching visits at household level were carried out by project staff to support participants in their engagement in the programme.

Rose and Stone selling freshly picked produce from the family farm in Nsanje, Malawi. Stone and Rose are participants in the Graduation Programme / Umodzi project. Photo: Chris Gagnon/Concern Worldwide.
Rose and Stone selling freshly picked produce from the family farm in Nsanje, Malawi. Stone and Rose are participants in the Graduation Programme / Umodzi project. Photo: Chris Gagnon/Concern Worldwide.

The programme also tested an innovative approach to engaging male and female spouses in a gender transformative dialogue aiming to improve gender equality and ultimately poverty related outcomes amongst programme participants. This gender specific component of the programme, known as Umodzi, meaning ‘united’, engaged couples to reflect upon and discuss issues such as gender norms, power, decision-making, budgeting, violence, positive parenting and healthy relationships.

As part of a comprehensive impact evaluation led by Concern and TIME (Trinity Impact Evaluation Unit) at Trinity College Dublin, the programme was structured into three intervention arms:

  1. Targets male household members as the primary recipients of the programme inputs
  2. Targets female household members as the primary recipients of the programme inputs, and
  3. Targets female household members as the primary recipients of the programme inputs PLUS she and her partner participate in 12 gender transformative dialogue sessions.

The aim of this research was to better understand the barriers faced by women in escaping poverty and examine whether the sex of the Graduation programme recipient and the compounded effect of gender transformative dialogue sessions affected household decision-making, gender attitudes, food security and income.

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In 2018, a study was undertaken to look at the impacts that Cyclone Idai had on households enrolled in the graduation programme in Malawi. For more information and study findings please go to: Impact of Cyclone Idai

This publication covers aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of Irish Aid. The ideas, opinions and comments therein are entirely the responsibility of its author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect Irish Aid policy.

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