Health Policies for Women Empowerment

61 Pages Posted: 17 May 2022 Last revised: 6 Jan 2023

Date Written: July 2022


Can major health interventions promote women empowerment? Focusing on rural Malawi, I study the effect of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic on women empowerment. To identify the effect, I use the ART roll-out campaign launched by the Malawian government starting in 2004. Based on the scope and accessibility of treatment, I calculate an index to measure the benefit of ART to a community. Women in communities that have benefited the most from the treatment, both in terms of the number of beneficiaries and access, experienced an increase in decision-making and a decrease in experiencing physical violence. The rise in women empowerment can be explained by the positive effect of health improvement on economic empowerment and human capital formation. This paper calls for a central role of health interventions in future women empowerment campaigns.

Funding Information: No funding was received from third parties for this project.

Declaration of Interests: This study has no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in the paper.

Keywords: HIV, Women Empowerment, Health Interventions, ART expansion, Africa, Malawi

JEL Classification: I15, I18, I38, J16, O10

Suggested Citation

Berlanda, Andrea, Health Policies for Women Empowerment (July 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Andrea Berlanda (Contact Author)

University of Lausanne ( email )

Quartier Chambronne
Lausanne, Vaud CH-1015

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