Working Paper
The Effectiveness of Foreign Aid to Women’s Equality Organizations in the MENA

Does Aid Promote Women’s Political Participation?

In this paper, we address the question of whether official development assistance promotes gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa region by examining the effects of aid to Women’s Equality Organizations and Institutions on women’s political empowerment, measured by the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. We use panel data (covering the period 2002-10) from 13 Middle East and North African countries and control for several relevant variables, including secondary school enrolments, adult fertility rates, autocracy, and official development assistance targeting family planning and reproductive health. The econometric results suggest that official development assistance … to women’ equality organizations and institutions is effective in increasing women’s political empowerment. We find that autocracy exerts a negative influence on women’s political empowerment. In addition, higher adolescent fertility rates are found to be associated with smaller proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. We comment on the policy implications of the main findings.