This paper reviews the evaluation literature on policies and programmes designed to promote women’s livelihood capabilities across the life course to elicit lessons for the agenda of women’s economic empowerment. It aims to answer this key question: what capabilities need to be prioritised to help girls make a successful transition to an independent and fulfilled adult life?
Empowerment encompasses many domains of women’s lives, but this paper focuses on the economic domain and women’s livelihoods. This is because the evidence shows that many of the deprivations and deficits that women experience as adults could have been averted had there been greater investment in their economic capabilities earlier in life. As capabilities cannot be measured directly, the paper focuses on changes in agency and achieved outcomes as proxy measures of impact.