This report was designed to help practitioners who implement Community-Driven Development (CDD) interventions more explicitly define, discuss, and integrate gender-relevant elements in the design of CDD projects; be more effective in implementing and monitoring features that may affect men and women differently; and identify meaningful indicators and information to assess gender impacts.

CDD projects aim to empower communities, particularly excluded groups. Women are increasingly recognized as a group that CDD interventions need to reach out to with specific activities to ensure that they fully benefit.

World Bank-supported CDD projects actively pursue and generate high female participation. Understanding the quality and implications of that participation is central to assess the empowerment impacts of CDD.

Community-Driven Development Results Chain, with Reference to Empowerment Dimensions

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Source: Adapted from Wong (2012)

CDD projects have the potential of enabling women to overcome some of the constraints that they face in the rural space. If these constraints are ignored, CDD projects can have the undesirable effect of leaving women behind and exacerbating gender gaps. That's why it is important to carry out gender-specific needs assessments to inform project design.

Empowerment is a key element of the CDD approach. Yet, CDD projects rarely discuss in a systematic way which dimensions of empowerment (economic, political, or social) they aim to affect, directly or indirectly, and how. Recognizing that empowerment is both a process and an outcome can help CDD interventions to better frame what they can impact both in the short and the long term.

Immediate impacts of CDD projects are found in terms of inclusion of women and on some of the economic benefits from the project’s activities. Positive impacts are documented on outputs such as participation and engagement, and in some cases on intermediate outcomes such as social capital and women’s increased confidence. These results are mostly restricted to the CDD project sphere. Very little information is found on impacts of CDD on the economic, political, and social empowerment of women at the level of broad development outcomes. By tracking outcomes in addition to outputs (such as the number of subprojects proposed by women or the number of women who received credit or training) and through more systematic assessment, reporting and evaluation, the learning of what works to increase women's empowerment through CDD projects can be greatly enhanced. 


  • It is important to bring out empowerment explicitly in the results chain of the project;
  • The design of CDD projects could benefit from being informed by gender-specific needs assessments to identify the constraints that women face in the rural space;
  • It is useful to think of empowerment along the three categories of economic, political, and social empowerment to identify the mechanisms CDD interventions can leverage, and to identify direct and indirect effects;
  • The importance of defining in CDD projects which dimensions can be affected, through which channels, and how these effects can be measured;
  • Participation needs to be measured in a comprehensive way by the use of multiple indicators;
  •  CDD interventions should better frame what they can impact both in the short and the long term, and
  • The learning potential of what works to increase women’s empowerment can be improved through more systematic assessment, reporting and evaluation.

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