Ten Best Bets

Ten Best Bets

For funders who are not already focused on a specific area of intervention, but want to act now to make a difference in improving the lives of women and girls, our research uncovered ten ‘best bets’ that have cross-cutting impact on women’s lives. As we researched determinants of positive outcomes in women’s lives across the five dimensions, these cornerstone issues emerged repeatedly, with multiple authoritative sources linking them to impact across several dimensions of women’s lives.[10] We call them out separately here for donors who are looking for high impact, evidence-based points of intervention.

10 Best Bets for Funders


Educational attainment: significantly affects health outcomes, likelihood of being the victim of intimate partner violence, and economic opportunity.


Protection from child marriage: significantly affects economic and educational opportunity, as well as likelihood of being the victim of intimate partner violence, and increases the risks associated with too-early sexual activity and pregnancy (e.g., pregnancy-related complications and HIV infection).


Access to nutritious food: a major determinant of disease worldwide, as well as a driver of school attendance and performance.


Access to clean water and sanitation: significantly affects health outcomes and also impacts educational attainment. Additionally, lack of access to water and sanitation can increase the risk of violence to women, who are exposed to various physical and sexual threats while fetching water or using latrines.


Access to contraceptives and family planning: impacts women’s health outcomes (especially reproductive health and maternal mortality ratios) and economic opportunity. Also represents an important women’s rights issue.


Labor force participation: a major driver of income generation and economic agency, with significant links to decreased risk of intimate partner violence.


Access to finance: personal savings and credit are major drivers of economic agency, which is linked with decreased risk of intimate partner violence, the most common form of violence against women.


Access to internet/technology: has a significant impact on women’s access to finance and income-earning opportunities, as well as on health (e.g., access to health information) and is often considered a women’s rights issue.


Property rights: a significant women’s rights issue and important determinant of women’s economic success and agency. Property rights are also linked to better health outcomes for women and children.


Poverty alleviation: especially worth noting, because poverty affects every dimension of women’s lives. However, it can be hard to define and can encompass many issues. While we refer to poverty in terms of financial capital in other places in this report, there are multiple forms of poverty, and it is often defined as the state where people are disconnected from financial and social capital.[11] Therefore, the best poverty interventions are multi-dimensional, for example providing skills training and social support in addition to opportunities to generate income and productive assets.


[10] These points are supported by research from large international development institutions such as the World Bank, World Health Organization, and UNICEF.

[11] World Bank. “Chapter 2: The Definitions of Poverty,” 2000. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPOVERTY/Resources/335642-1124115102975/1555199-1124115187705/ch2.pdf.