Women’s Participation in the Development Program and Household Decision Making Status among the Targeting Ultra Poor (TUP) in Rural Bangladesh

Growing evidence shows that the distribution of individuals’ ownership and control of assets within a household can have important implications for women’s empowerment and children’s well-being. Interventions on specific individuals can shift intra-household dynamics, yet little evidence exists from rigorous evaluation. We studied BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) program in Bangladesh, which targets asset transfer (primarily livestock) and training to rural women in poor households using mixed methods. Our analysis confirms that the program significantly increases household ownership of various assets but has complex effects on the targeted women. These findings suggest that while the transferred assets tend to remain with women, new investments from mobilized resources are controlled by men. The analysis shows that asset transfer targeted to women can increase women’s ownership of and control over the transferred asset itself but may not necessarily increase women’s intra-household bargaining position. Moreover, it reveals that outcomes valued by individuals may not always be tangible, highlighting the complexity of assessing whether interventions improve women’s empowerment.