Guidelines on Estimating the Costs and Cost-Effectiveness of Women's Groups in International Development
There is a wide body of evidence examining the effectiveness of different types of women’s groups, particularly economic self-help groups (SHGs), Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), and Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) groups. Most commonly, research examines the impact of women’s groups on access to savings and credit; income, asset ownership, and household consumption; women’s economic empowerment and mobility; political empowerment; and health and well-being.
With the growing emphasis on implementing different types of women’s groups in South Asia and Africa, investors and donors are interested in understanding not just the overall funding requirements, but also the costs of replicating, scaling up, or sustaining a women’s group program. Information about costs and benefits can help investors and donors to compare cost-effectiveness across different types of women’s groups to guide resource allocation decisions. However, research on the costs and cost-effectiveness of women’s groups is scarce, possibly because of the lack of consistent cost data linked to different activities and outcomes.
These guidelines are intended to support researchers, stakeholders, and program implementers to collect and analyze data on program costs and estimate program cost-effectiveness, with the goal of supporting better practices in cost data collection and the use of these data to inform future investments.