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Remarkable Results from Simple Solutions

Providing free school uniforms in Kenya actually decreased girls’ dropout rates by 15%, teen marriage by 12% and childbearing by 10%. The rationale for providing the uniforms was to decrease the cost of education, empower children and increase motivation. By raising the girls’ ability to conceptualize themselves and increasing their self-esteem, while lowering costs, those who received free uniforms were significantly more likely to stay in school, thus reducing the likelihood of getting married and having babies. These results were published in World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4024 following a randomized evaluation of 70,000 students in 328 primary schools in rural Kenya.

Introducing cable television in rural India has been shown to improve the status of women there. In particular, a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (MIT Press) in 2009 found “significant increases in reported autonomy, decreases in the reported acceptability of beating and decreases in reported son preference [over daughters]. [The authors] also find increases in female school enrollment and decreases in fertility (primarily via increased birth spacing). The effects are large, equivalent in some cases to about five years of education …”. The report suggests that exposing women and men to new and more diverse sets of information via the cable TV has produced these positive results.

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