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Gina Chowa, PhD, MSW

Director Economic Security Core Financial Inclusion Core Workforce Development Core

Gina Chowa conducts research on global social development, particularly the intersection of economic security, workforce development, social protection and financial inclusion and its impact on the well-being of vulnerable and marginalized populations in the Global South. She develops and evaluates interventions that aim to promote gainful employment, meaningful financial inclusion, long-term economic security, and improved health and education outcomes. Her research focuses on employing rigorous methodology to examine causal relationships between holistic economic security interventions and well-being of children, youth, and their families in low-resource communities. Chowa’s research is informed by more than two decades of global development practice and has informed her teaching in the areas of development theory and practice in global settings, community-based participatory methods, project design and proposal writing, and evidence-based practice in the Global South.

Her current work focuses on nationwide, large-scale experimental demonstrations of economic security interventions and pioneering pilot programs to improve the welfare of marginalized populations including low-income youth, people living with HIV/AIDS, women, poor rural households, and urban slum dwellers. She is a principal investigator of Siyakha a nationwide, cluster-randomized demonstration project that is evaluating the impact of employability and financial capability programs on employment and economic welfare of more than 3,000 youth in all nine provinces of South Africa. She was also the principal investigator of YouthSave Ghana Experiment, another large-scale, cluster-randomized experiment that examined the impact of financial inclusion on the well-being of more than 6,000 youth and their families in eight of Ghana’s ten provinces. Chowa also piloted AssetsAfrica, an innovative intervention study for rural households in Uganda and Chuma na Uchizi another innovative intervention for people living with HIV in Zambia. She is currently leading groundbreaking research projects in India, Kenya, and the Philippines. Her work has been funded by the MasterCard Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, University of North Carolina (UNC), National Institutes of Health and UNC Center for AIDS Research, and UNC School of Social Work.

Chowa’s pioneering global intervention research has earned her multiple honors and awards, including the prestigious Ruth and Philip Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement (2014), and Wallace Kuralt Early Career Distinguished Professorship (2016). Chowa has also been recognized for teaching excellence (2013) and excellence in doctoral students mentoring (2014). Her work has been published in various interdisciplinary and social work journals, including Child and Youth Services, Children and Youth Services Review, International Journal of Educational Development, Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Journal of Socio-Economics, Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, Social Science Research, and Social Work Research. She also has faculty appointments at the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Centre for Social Development Africa at the University of Johannesburg.