Increasing Women's Agency through Non-traditional Employment Opportunities in the Transport Sector: The Effects of Women's Participation in Road Maintenance in Bolivia

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Aug 2021
This research analyzes the effects on women who participated in the Bolivian Road Conservation Program utilizing Microenterprises (PROVIAL).
The PROVIAL program is a road maintenance program that hires Road Maintenance Microenterprises (abbreviated as MCV in Spanish) to perform routine maintenance work throughout Bolivia's national road network. While regular wages invariably increase household income, a priori, it was unclear if participation in MCVs would have other effects on women, specifically on their ability to exercise agency. To assess the changes experienced by women MCV members (in Spanish, these women are known as socias) resulting from their participation in the PROVIAL program, both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Adding to the existing evidence, this report finds that including women in microenterprises, as part of a road maintenance program, has a positive effect on women's agency. Moreover, the implementation of Bolivia's MCV program produced a win-win situation for both the government and the socias. Integrating gender considerations into the design of public works programs can have a high payoff. Given its low implementation cost, integrating gender considerations is low-hanging fruit, and an outgrowth of an existing road maintenance policy that could be actively harnessed. Women's participation in MCVs is not a magic bullet, and other labor market policies are needed as well, but it has proven to be one way to facilitate women's entry into formal jobs found within the infrastructure sector.