Karimli, Marshall Encourage Shift in Gender Norms

Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Leyla Karimli and MPP student Emily Marshall co-authored a Medium op-ed about the complicated relationship between economic empowerment and female agency. While “economic empowerment, village savings, loans associations and poverty alleviation programs are essential to improving the lives of women around the world,” they do not necessarily result in improved agency and power, the authors wrote. Even when women earn the same or more than their partner, women disproportionately leave the workforce to care for children and relatives. “There are cultural and social norms at play and gender constraints that are typically embedded in larger patriarchal structures,” they explained. Karimli’s research shows that economic strengthening is more effective when coupled with family coaching to address gender norms. “We need to shift social norms, cultural expectations and attitudes by working with men as well as women,” wrote the authors, who are affiliated with the Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA Luskin.

Women Provide More ‘Care’ Across Continents and Cultures New Luskin Social Welfare faculty member Leyla Karimli is the lead author of a report on unpaid care work and "reality of care" in women’s lives in rural communities around the world

By Stan Paul

From looking after children and dependent adults to preparing meals and ensuring that food, water and household necessities are available, care can be defined in a multitude of ways.

In a study of rural communities in five countries, researchers found that women provide far more hours of care in their daily lives than do their male counterparts. Leyla Karimli, assistant professor of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, is lead author of the new report published by the UK-based international organization Oxfam.

“Care work is essential for personal well-being and for maintaining societies,” states Karimli and her co-authors. “But across the world, it is overwhelmingly the preserve of women, and it often restricts their opportunities for education, employment, politics and leisure.”

In gathering data for the study, “Factors and Norms Influencing Unpaid Care Work,” a number of teams interviewed more than 1,000 households in rural communities in five countries — Colombia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The researchers used the Household Care Survey (HCS) to analyze change that may have occurred in households participating in We-Care (Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care) programs over the year, part of Oxfam’s global policy and advocacy work on unpaid care work and women’s empowerment. Karimli also was part of the team that developed the HCS.

Recognizing that the “heavy” and “unequal” distribution of care work is a human rights issue, the survey focused on a number of “levers of change” at the household level, including factors such as the recognition of the importance of care work and women’s role in carrying it out; women’s ability to make decisions in the household; and access to time/labor-saving equipment. Researchers examined the extent to which these and other factors were associated with the amount of time women and men spent on unpaid care work, and the distribution of that care within the household.

Based on the survey, the researchers found:

  • On average, women spent 5.4 hours on care as a primary activity during the day before the survey, compared to just under an hour (0.99) for men.
  • When care as a secondary activity was included, women spent an average of 7.0 hours on care, compared to 1.4 hours for men.
  • Over one-third of all men in the sample reported spending no time on any care activity.
  • On average, 78 percent of women had been responsible for a child compared to 48 percent of men, and 11 percent of women had been responsible for a dependent adult compared to 9 percent of men.
  • Women reported an average of 13.8 hours of their previous day was devoted to at least one care responsibility, including supervision, compared to the 4.3 hours that men reported having any care responsibility.
  • On average, women spent 6.1 hours on multitasking compared to 1.2 hours for men.

Women also spent relatively more time on total paid and unpaid work — 9.1 hours compared to 7.3 hours for men — while spending less time on leisure and personal care.

The authors add that when supervision is taken into account, the average number of hours that women reported having some care responsibility rises by 250 percent, from an average of 5.4 hours a day of care work as a primary activity to 13.8 hours per day that women have any care responsibility. In addition, the amount of time that women spend relative to men in these predominantly rural, developing country contexts is much greater than the global figures suggest.

The analysis also considered the relationship between the amount of care work in which women engaged and their education, relative household assets, income and savings, as well as household access to time-saving equipment such as water taps and fuel-efficient stoves. None of these factors was consistently associated with the amount of care work provided by women.

For example, the authors point out, “Although some equipment and service access — notably the provision of electricity — seemed to have a positive effect on women’s care loads, our results also make clear that a focus on only one dimension of care, such as childcare provision or stoves or water systems, cannot be expected to significantly ‘free up’ these rural women’s time.” However, the authors report that the data did suggest some evidence that in households where “social norms were more progressive” care work was more evenly distributed.

Overall, the researchers say, the aim of the study is to “generate evidence that helps local organizations address problematic aspects of care work, contributing to women’s ability to participate, lead and benefit from development initiatives.”

The full report is available online.

A UCLA Luskin Welcome Departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare, Urban Planning welcome six new faculty members

By Stan Paul

Six new members of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs faculty were warmly welcomed at a reception held Oct. 18 and hosted by their new Luskin departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning. Interim Dean Lois Takahashi and the three department chairs were also on hand to welcome the new teachers and researchers.

This year, the School’s three departments strengthened their faculty teaching and research rosters with the additions of Darin Christensen and Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld (Public Policy), Leyla Karimli and Laura Wray-Lake (Social Welfare), and Michael Manville and Kian Goh (Urban Planning).

In Public Policy, Darin Christensen will be teaching three classes at Luskin this year. “The students are great, really engaged,” said Christensen, who recently received his Stanford Ph.D. in political science. Christensen said he will be showing his Master of Public Policy (MPP) students how to bring evidence to bear on policy decisions, teaching them tools for wrangling and exploring data, as well as statistical methods that generate credible claims about “what policies work.” In another course offered this quarter, he is discussing how political institutions and public policies affect why some countries are rich and peaceful while others with persistent poverty and instability.

Also joining the Public Policy department this year is Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld, who will begin teaching this winter quarter on topics including social networks and protest. “I study protest,” said Steinert-Threlkeld, who completed his Ph.D. in political science this year at UC San Diego. “Wherever there is a protest in the world, I go to Twitter and see what people say. Are they expressing political grievances because they’re mad about the economy?”

Steinert-Threlkeld, who studies social media as it relates to subnational conflict, teaches analysis of “big data.” “If anyone wants to learn with Twitter data,” he said, “they can reach out to me. I would love to be working with motivated students or faculty.”

In Social Welfare, Laura Wray-Lake, who comes to UCLA from the University of Rochester, will be teaching two classes in winter: research methods with children and youth, and development and resilience for the Master of Social Work (MSW) students. “I was really excited about the interdisciplinary environment” at Luskin, she said, explaining that her area of research is civic engagement. “I’m really interested in how to get young people interested in politics and the communities, and solving social issues.”

Leyla Karimli brings an international focus to Social Welfare on topics including child welfare, education and child labor. With more than a decade of international research and practice, her work has taken her to a number of countries in Africa as well as Colombia, the Philippines, Tajikistan and Krgyzstan. She will be teaching on program evaluation and topics including a multidisciplinary analysis of poverty and social exclusion, one of her main research interests.

Returning to UCLA, assistant professor Michael Manville said he is currently teaching courses on transportation and the environment and another on shared mobility. Manville, who earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Urban Planning at Luskin, most recently was an assistant professor at Cornell University in the Department of City and Regional Planning. Manville said the rest of the year he will be teaching transportation, land use and public finance, primarily for the Urban Planning Department’s master’s students.

Urban Planner Kian Goh plans to teach a winter quarter seminar titled “Urban Futures,” with a focus on space, ecology and society. In the spring, she will teach a studio course on site planning and a qualitative methods course.

“This year I am continuing my research broadly on the politics of urban climate change adaptation and research on the L.A. region,” said Goh, who comes to Luskin from Northeastern University. “It’s inevitable, not just because I am here but because it so interesting. I think the L.A. region is an example of urban form.”

Goh has focused her research on cities from New York to Jakarta.

“It is really helpful to look at other cities,” she said. “I think of the challenges we face here and all of the opportunities. We’ve learned a lot from other regions.”

Leyla Karimli

Dr. Leyla Karimli’s interdisciplinary applied research critically examines the impact of poverty reduction interventions on the psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable children and families in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, highlighting the often-neglected significance of local social structures and revealing the multifaceted nature of poverty. Dr. Karimli uses multilevel longitudinal experimental and quasi-experimental studies to examine complex links between the economic dimensions of poverty, social norms, social support mechanisms, and psycho-social outcomes in order to inform programs and policies to address child poverty and deprivation in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.

Dr. Karimli received her PhD from Columbia University’s School of Social Work with a concentration in social policy and social welfare. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and New York University’s Silver School of Social Work’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Karimli actively contributed to community-based empowerment and poverty reduction initiatives by working within development agencies in the former Soviet Union and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Karimli is a faculty affiliate at Luskin’s Global Public Affairs, the Global Lab for Research in Action, the International Center on Child Health and Asset Development (ICHAD), and UCLA’s California Center for Population Research (CCPR).

 Connect with her on X (formerly Twitter)

For full list of publications please visit her page at ResearchGate or Google Scholar


Karimli, L., Ssewamala, F. M., & Neilands, T.B. (2023) The impact of poverty-reduction intervention on child mental health mediated by family relations: Findings from a cluster-randomized trial in Uganda. Social Science & Medicine, 332, 116102

Karimli L., Nabunya, P., Ssewamala, F.M., & Dvalishvili, D. (2023) Combining asset accumulation and multi-family group intervention to improve mental health for adolescent girls: A cluster-randomized trial in Uganda. Journal of Adolescent Health (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.08.012)

Gómez, A., Karimli, L., Holguinc, M., Chung, P., Szilagyi, P., & Schickedanz, A. (2022) Bills, babies, and (language) barriers: Associations between economic strain and parenting outcomes among parents of infants in low-income households. Family Relations, 71, 352-370

Karimli, L., Lecoutere, E., Wells, C. R. & Ismayilova, L. (2021) More assets, more decision-making power? Mediation model in a cluster-randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of the graduation program on women’s empowerment in Burkina Faso. World Development, 137, 105159

Karimli, L., Bose, B., & Kagotho, N. (2020) Integrated graduation program and its effect on women and household economic well-being: Findings from a randomized controlled trial in Burkina Faso. Journal of Development Studies, 56(7), 1277-1294

Ismayilova, L. & Karimli, L. (2020) Harsh parenting and violence against children: a trial with ultra-poor families in Francophone West Africa. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 49(1), 18-35

Karimli, L., Shephard, D.D., McKay M. M., Batista, T., & Allmang, S. (2020) Effect of non-formal experiential education on personal agency of adolescent girls in Tajikistan: findings from a randomized experimental study. Global Social Welfare. 7(2), 141-154

Salecker, L.M., Ahmadov, A., & Karimli, L. (2020) Contrasting monetary and multidimensional poverty measures in a low-income Sub-Saharan African country. Social Indicators Research, 151(2), 547-574

Karimli, L., Ssewamala, F. M.., Neilands, T.B., Wells, C. R., & Bermudez, L. (2019) Poverty, economic strengthening, and mental health among AIDS orphaned children in Uganda: mediation model in a randomized clinical trial. Social Science & Medicine, 228, 17-24

Karimli L., Rost L., Ismayilova L. (2018). Integrating economic strengthening and family coaching to reduce work-related health hazards among children of poor households: Burkina Faso. Journal of Adolescent Health, Special Issue, Global Perspectives on Economic Strengthening, 62(1):S6–S14.

Ismayilova, L., Karimli, L., Sanson, J., Gaveras, E., Nanema, R., Tô-Camier, A., & Chaffin, J. (2018) Improving child mental health in ultra-poor families: Two-year outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial in Burkina Faso. Social Science & Medicine, 208, 180-189

Ismayilova, L., Karimli, L., Gaveras, E., Tô-Camier, A., Sanson, J., Chaffin, J. & Nanema, R. (2018) An integrated approach to increasing women’s empowerment and reducing domestic violence: Results of a cluster-randomized controlled trial in a West African country. Psychology of Violence, 8(4), 448-459.

Lovato-Hermann, K., Lopez, C., Karimli, L., & Abrams, L. (2018) The impact of deportation-related family separations on the well-being of Latino/a children and youth: a review of the literature. Children and Youth Services Review, 95, 109-116

Ssewamala, F. M., Karimli, L., Neilands, T. B., Wang, J. S. H., Han, C. K., Ilic, V., & Nabunya, P. (2016) Applying a family-level economic strengthening intervention to improve education and health-related outcomes of school-going AIDS-orphaned children: Lessons from a randomized experiment in Southern Uganda. Prevention Science, 17(1), 134-143

Karimli, L., Samman, E., Rost, L., & Kidder, T. (2016) Factors and Norms Influencing Unpaid Care Work: Household survey evidence from five rural communities in Colombia, Ethiopia, The Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Oxford, UK: Oxfam, Women’s Economic Empowerment and Care.


UCLA Luskin Adds Six New ‘Outstanding’ Faculty Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning announce the appointment of two new scholars in each department

By George Foulsham

In the biggest expansion since its inception, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has announced the addition of six new faculty for the 2016-17 academic year. The new hires bring to 100 the number of professors, assistant professors, lecturers and instructors at the Luskin School.

“We are thrilled to welcome six new faculty to the UCLA Luskin family,” Interim Dean Lois M. Takahashi said. “These six outstanding scholars will bring to Luskin a wealth of expertise and knowledge that will be shared with our current — and future — students for years to come. This is a very exciting time to be a part of one of the best public affairs schools in the country. These new faculty members will help us continue the pursuit of our mission at Luskin: advancing solutions to society’s most pressing problems.”

The six new faculty members, by department:

Public Policy

Darin Christensen, a new assistant professor of Public Policy, will receive his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University this year. His research interests, with support from the World Bank and other funders, span comparative politics, the political economy of conflict and development, foreign investment, and political accountability, with regional interest in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science and German from Duke University, and his master’s degree in economics from Stanford. Christensen’s teaching focus at Luskin is expected to be comparative political institutions, the political economy of development and advanced data analysis.

Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld, a new assistant professor of Public Policy, will receive his Ph.D. in political science from UC San Diego this year. He also has a master’s degree in political science from UC San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and economics from Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests are in international politics; exploiting in particular vast social media data to study subnational conflict; the mobilization of mass protest such as the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests, as well as elite behavior and state repression in authoritarian regimes. At Luskin, his teaching focus will be on subnational conflict, statistics and advanced data analysis of various kinds, including the analysis of “big data.”

Social Welfare

Leyla Karimli, a new assistant professor of social welfare, received her Ph.D. in social welfare from Columbia University’s School of Social Work in 2013 and is completing postdoctoral training at New York University School of Social Work’s Institute for Poverty, Policy and Research. Dr. Karimli has 13 years of international research and practice experience focusing on poverty and social exclusion including post-masters practice experience with international development agencies in the former Soviet Union and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research interests include a multidimensional and systems-oriented analysis of poverty and social exclusion that complements the Department of Social Welfare and Luskin School’s commitment to understanding the complex nature of social and economic inequalities and addressing the needs of vulnerable and diverse populations.

Laura Wray-Lake, a new assistant professor in social welfare, received her Ph.D. from Penn State University’s highly regarded Human Development and Family Studies program. Dr. Wray-Lake is a lifespan developmental scientist from the University of Rochester where she has been an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. Dr. Wray-Lake utilizes a “civic engagement” framework to examine the social and income inequalities facing vulnerable children and families and how and why individuals can become re-engaged in society. Dr. Wray-Lake has a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring. Her courses on community engagement incorporate her social justice approach to teaching and as such, will support our commitment to diversity and social justice.

Urban Planning

Kian Goh, a new assistant professor of urban planning, received her Master of Architecture from Yale University and her Ph.D. in Urban and Environmental Planning from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is currently an assistant professor of Urban Landscape at Northeastern University. Dr. Goh’s research investigates the relationships between urban ecological design, spatial politics, and social mobilization in the context of climate change and global urbanization. Her work has centered on sites in New York, Jakarta and Rotterdam.  She also has ongoing projects on queer space and the sociopolitics of smart cities. In addition to her scholarly work, Goh is a licensed architect and co-founder of SUPER-INTERESTING!, a multidisciplinary architecture and strategic consulting practice located in Brooklyn.

Michael Manville, a new assistant professor of urban planning, is returning to UCLA Luskin after receiving his MA and Ph.D. in urban planning from UCLA Luskin.  Dr. Manville is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. His research examines the willingness of people and communities to finance different government services, and the tendency of local governments to hide the costs of transportation in the property market. Dr. Manville is particularly interested in how land use restrictions intended to fight traffic congestion can influence the supply and price of housing.