How gender-biased are female-headed household transfers in Egypt?

Document Type


Publication Date



In this paper, we claim that the policy of targeting female-headed households’ (FHHs) may generate bias against women in male-headed households (MHHs) who may be more poverty-constrained. Targeting FHHs may have the merit of clear targeting; however, it doesn’t address the feminization phenomenon of poverty; instead, it presents unequal opportunities for women in other families by less favouring them. We argue that proper targeting could be derived based on the number of women in families. The study applied a Gender-Based Poverty Detection Model to provide a good detection of household poverty and show that the vulnerable characteristics of females could be more influenced by the general household’s poverty than females’ headed households. Model results showed that not all FHHs are poor, and that some de jure MHHs include a large number of poor females. This means that targeting only de jure FHHs might result in resource leakage to the non-poor and under-coverage of poor de facto FHHs and poor females in MHHs. The analysis asserts that female headship is not always a correlate of poverty in Egypt. An important correlate, however, is the share of female members in the household. This raises questions about the effectiveness of social assistance and poverty alleviation programmes in Egypt in targeting female poverty.