Policy engagement is a critical component of all EDI research. While it is not always easy to provide a direct correlation between research activity and policy impact, the following accounts of evidence of policy impact were reported to us over the course 2018.

Enhancing the evidence base for institutional diagnostic at DFID

EDI is actively pursuing policy engagement related to our Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic. François Bourguignon offered a keynote speech and presided over specific Tanzania discussion at the DFID Economist Conference, which provided an excellent forum for sharing this research with international donors. The feedback from DFID during these sessions complements responses from policymakers in Bangladesh and Benin. This will be reflected in the other country studies and future communication of results to enhance impact and practicality of the tool.

Most significant labour reform in Mexico in over a century with EDI project input

Described in the press as the ‘most significant labour reform in over a century’, a proposal was submitted to the Mexican Federal Senate in January 2019, to be passed in April 2019. EDI researcher Joyce Sadka was part of weekly meetings during the second half of 2018 with 25 high level stakeholders, including federal judges and magistrates, presidents of labour courts, state secretaries of labour, academics, members of international organizations (such as the IDB), top labour litigation firms, and union and trade association groups. In particular, Joyce has designed the main rules in relation to the mandatory conciliation procedure, notifications, sanctions on fraudulent actions in labor proceedings, and enforcement procedures including those involving the Mexican social security administration.

Briefing to Rwanda’s Minister of Education

Andrew Zeitlin met with the Minister of Education during a visit to Rwanda in June 2018 to discuss the ongoing analysis of his project on performance contracts for civil servants, and its potential policy implications. At the Minister’s request, Zeitlin wrote a policy brief outlining challenges and policy levers in teacher recruitment and management. This has been disseminated with government and was posted online by the co-funder IGC in January 2019. The Government of Rwanda in 2018 centralized teacher human-resource management, which was formerly the provenance of District Education Offices and is actively revising its teacher management policies, including in this discussion the possible introduction of performance-linked financial incentives for teachers. The research team is in conversation with Ministry staff, who have asked for results to be provided as soon as possible to advise these policy discussions.

EDI research positioned to support a future of more democratic candidate selection in Sierra Leone

During the first phase of our randomized control trial in Sierra Leone, on intra-party debates for aspirants, EDI researchers shared preliminary findings (de-identified and aggregated) with party leaders. This information included how well aspirants performed and how popular they were with constituents and helped inform the political parties’ internal selection of aspirants. The political parties had the option to share this information publicly or not. Specifically, the research team hosted four high-level events with the political parties to present the project and preliminary findings from the study. Ongoing engagement since then has achieved endorsement of the research by the presidential flag bearer for the Sierra Leone People’s Party (now the President of Sierra Leone) as well as the former President of Sierra Leone (now Chairman of the All People’s Congress Party). Moreover, the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission has advocated that it be made compulsory for parties to select candidates via open debates as established by the researchers.

Convincing Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology to recommend change in marriage contract

Kate Vyborny and Erica Field provided high level findings and training on nikahnama (marriage contract) registrars, which has convinced Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to change the marriage contract to grant women the authority to divorce their husbands without having to seek legal aid. CII announced it is reviewing the marriage contract. One specific act that the implementing partner of this research project (the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women – PCSW) has already proposed to the local government is standardising and renewing the columns of the nikahnama across Punjab which will a) ensure that the information in nikahnama regarding conditions on divorce or any special conditions are not left blank; and b) hold marriage registrars responsible for ensuring that all columns are filled, since currently there are different versions of nikahnama forms being used in difference districts.

In addition, the research provided evidence needed for the PCSW to present a report to the provincial government which supports the case for continuing the marriage registrar trainings in autumn 2018. This effort by the Government of Punjab is expected to increase not only the proper filling of the nikahnamah form and correct adherence to legal procedures, but also has the potential to improve the access of millions of women in Punjab to their legal rights in the future.