Scientific Publication

Women's participation in environmental decision-making: Quasi-experimental evidence from northern Kenya


Greater inclusion of women is widely believed to improve environmental decision outcomes. Pastoralism faces increased vulnerability to climate change, and pastoralist women are both disproportionately affected by severe drought and underrepresented in formal decision-making processes. Increased participation by women in decision-making thus promises to offer a win–win solution: greater gender equality as well as enhanced resilience to persistent drought. This quasi-experimental study evaluates an intervention that aimed to increase drought preparedness in northern Kenyan pastoralist communities through the empowerment of women at the household and community levels. It uses a difference-in-differences design combined with matching estimation to causally isolate effects of the intervention. At the community level, there was an increase in women's political awareness and participation in formal decision-making processes, but that participation did not translate into meaningful outcomes. At the household level, however, there was a large and positive effect on actions taken to better prepare for drought (which mostly took the form of pre-emptive livestock sales). Given the entrenched gender roles related to livestock sales in this setting, this finding is encouraging and warrants further research.