Analysis of development policies for women’s empowerment and children’s welfare in MENA countries

  • Ayse Yaylali

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The welfare of women and children is an essential ingredient of development. Therefore, this issue has been at the centre of policies concerning economic development. Since 2000, United Nation’s commitment to achieving development goals through gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and access to education has been reflected within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) until 2015. The progress made in line with attaining the MDGs carried on with implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that again emphasise the importance of gender equality, empowerment of all women and girls, health and well-being at all ages, access to quality education and lifelong learning. This dissertation contributes to the existing literature by studying the importance of countries’ historical treatment in empowering women both in social and economic spheres and improving their well-being. In addition to the historical treatment, the development policies in line with achieving the MDGs, such as Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Sudan and Jordan, are analysed. In a nutshell, this dissertation provides an overview of the development efforts by referring to different cases in countries that belong to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where informal institutions such as norms and traditions play an important role in shaping individuals’ behaviour. The first chapter aims at highlighting the importance of historical institutions on women’s empowerment by studying the case of Ottoman existence in Egypt. Egypt serves as an excellent example because, during its existence between the years 1517-1798, Ottoman authorities settled down only in particular regions of Egypt. Their existence had shaped the social norms and traditions, which leads to differences in women’s behaviour in these specific geographical regions. The differences in women’s attitudes are identified using Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD), where the outcomes on women’s development are identified and compared at the geographical level. The results depict an overall picture of women’s position within the regions occupied and dominated by Ottoman institutions. The results indicate that women’s domestic autonomy outcomes that refers to women’s power in decision-making and standing against domestic violence, are better on Ottoman side of the Border. The autonomy over earnings and participation in the labour force that are the indicators of economic empowerment are higher on the Ottoman side of the border. Also, educational attainment in years is significantly higher for those women. The second chapter handles educational development in Sudan, which is a highly conservative society. The study provides an overall picture about the effectiveness of compulsory education policies and discusses the reasons why such policies may fail to improve some of the desired development outcomes. The results suggest that the policy was effective in intensive margin as it encourages completion of primary education yet fails in extensive margin as it does not increase the participation in education. The third chapter touches on the effectiveness of Universal Health Policies (UHP) which is the matter in hand, by studying the free health insurance policy for children under the age of six in Jordan. This chapter scrutinises the causal effect of free health insurance coverage on healthcare utilisation and wasting among children aged between 0 and 12. The results show significant differences between the treatment and control group in terms of health utilisation and children’s welfare. The dissertation also provides three different applications of the RDD that is one of the most reliable econometric tools of policy analysis while using observational data. It is a quasi-experimental method and helps to overcome the selection bias and endogeneity issues while dealing with observational data. The first chapter uses the Geographical Boundaries RDD, also known as Spatial RDD, that is a sharp design. The second chapter uses birth-date related RDD that the birth cohorts are reason of discontinuity, and the third chapter employs age-related RDD where age in months is the running variable. The last two chapters use the fuzzy design by the nature of the policies analysed. Overall, by using the RDD approach, this paper analyses the paths that lead to better development outcomes in the MENA region and explores the tools that should accompany policy changes.
Date of Award25 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAlexander Dickson (Supervisor) & Marco Alfano (Supervisor)

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