The Impact of Cultural, Religious and Legal Factors on Women’s Empowerment through Conditional Cash Transfers

This brief draws from a research report titled “Assessing women empowerment in Tanzania: the case of the Productive Social Safety Net Programme”. The research was funded by the International Development Centre (IDRC) as part of a research programme on “Growth and Opportunities for Women” and supported by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF). It is based on the analysis of culture, religious and legal factors that affect the empowerment of women through Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs). Its main thrust is that for women’s empowerment and disempowerment to be clearly understood, there is a need for a deeper analysis of factors that enable and constrain women’s capabilities to assert themselves as they struggle to fit into the gendered spaces and ladders of power in their households and communities. CCTs are aimed at enabling the poorest of the poor to meet their basic needs while they find ways to get out of poverty. Poverty in Tanzania is more prevalent in rural areas and among women. Evidence from this study indicates that although both women and men experience poverty, women tend to suffer more from poverty because of prevailing cultural and religious beliefs and practices, legal systems and household leadership structures. These combine with other institutional and systemic factors to adversely affect poverty and prosperity among women.