How Women Contribute to and Benefit from Growth. Integrating Women’s Economic Empowerment into the Market Development Facility (MDF) Approach (2015)

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Market Development Facility, 2015 – 62 pages

This Strategic Guidance Note explains the background to and international thinking on WEE and describes how the MDF programme addresses WEE. Most notably, it provides an interesting example of how to structurally integrate a diagnostic WEE framework in a wider market development approach.

Understanding Unpaid Care Work to Empower Women in Market Systems Approaches – BEAM (2016)

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BEAM Exchange, 2016 – 51 pages

This document is intended to support market systems programmes to understand and address unpaid care work by:

  • guiding practitioners on approaches to diagnose constraints related to unpaid care.
  • providing tools to carry these out.
  • outlining with real examples how programmes have designed interventions to target problematic aspects of care provision based on facilitation approaches using systems thinking.

For programmes that target women’s empowerment, heavy and unequal unpaid care will likely be a system-level constraint. By understanding how programmes’ interventions interact with existing care work and responsibilities, they can use the potential of systemic responses to improve both market operations and livelihood outcomes.

Women’s Empowerment and Market Systems (WEAMS) Framework – BEAM (2016)

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BEAM Exchange, 2016 – 49 pages

This report details the challenges for donor agencies to design and implement gender-transformative programmes. It is both an update of the Making Markets Work for the Poor WEE Framework (the M4P WEE Framework) for those who utilised the earlier resource, and a standalone paper for others who have more recently ventured into the space. However, this paper goes further than the important work of refining concepts, sharing experiences, and offering practical advice per process step; it highlights the paradigm shift that must take place for market systems initiatives to fully embed WEE and to create sustainable and equitable systems change.

Developing Gender-Sensitive Value Chains: Guidelines for practitioners – FAO (2018)

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FAO, 2018 – 116 pages

These guidelines aim to support practitioners in translating FAO’s Gender-Sensitive Value Chain Framework into action. They are primarily intended to assist practitioners in designing and implementing interventions that provide women and men with equal opportunities to benefit from agri-food value chain development. They offer practical tools and examples of successful approaches to foster a more systematic integration of gender equality dimensions in value chain interventions in the agricultural sector and enhance the social impact of these interventions. The publication consists of two main sections:

  • Gender-sensitive analysis of the value chain presents tools and resources to assess and select value chains from a gender perspective and guides practitioners in the identification of the gender-based constraints (GBCs) that undermine both the performance of the chain and women’s opportunities for economic empowerment.
  • Actions for addressing GBCs in value chain interventions explore possible solutions to address them as an integral part of the value chain upgrading strategy.

Developing Gender-Sensitive Value Chains: A guiding framework – FAO (2016)

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FAO, 2016 – 52 pages

The purpose of this publication is to introduce the Gender-Sensitive Value Chain (GSVC) framework, which facilitates the systematic integration of gender equality dimensions into value chain development programmes and projects. In addition to accounting for the levels of analysis presented in the Sustainable Food Value Chain framework (core and extended VC, national and global enabling environments), the GSVC framework features two additional levels: the household and individual level. Most value chain development approaches stop at the household level. Yet gender inequalities often originate within the household, and individual agency and power might also depend on intrahousehold dynamics. The report raises awareness of gender inequalities and discusses the importance of addressing these dimensions in value chain development, while also building a common approach for work on GSVC development.

This framework is complemented by the Guidelines for practitioners that provide specific tools to support practitioners in designing, implementing, and monitoring GSVC programmes.

Gender and Business Environment Reform: What is “Best Practice”? – BERF (2016)

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BERF, 2016 – 32 pages

This report investigates how to make incremental improvements to existing programmes and learn more about how they can benefit women, whilst continuing to build on what is already working in the field. This report recommends the following:

  • Results should be disaggregated by gender for all programmes.
  • Ideally, a country-specific diagnostic should be conducted before programme activities are specified.
  • Diagnostics should include simple primary research to fill data gaps and to test whether official procedures are implemented as written.
  • Where primary research is not feasible, a lighter touch diagnostic analysis should be undertaken using the many existing sources of information.


Scoping Study on Customary Law and Women’s Entrepreneurship – BERF/DFID (2017)

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BERF/DFID, 2017 – 39 pages

This scoping study indicates how customary laws and practices can impact women as owners and managers of enterprises and as employees of these enterprises. Areas within the business environment that are most directly affected by customary laws and practices include:

  • Access to finance, with banking laws discriminating against women’s ability to apply for loans or credit without a signature from a male family member.
  • Business registration and licensing, with restrictions imposed on interacting with men who are not family members.
  • Land titles, registration, and administration, with a lack of property rights limiting women’s ability to use land as collateral.
  • Access to commercial courts and dispute resolution mechanisms, where judges may rule in favour of males on the basis that men are responsible for the family.

The study also includes some case studies highlighting promising interventions that directly or indirectly address customary law and practices to create a more gender-equitable business environment.

Women’s Wage Employment in Developing Countries: Regulatory barriers and opportunities – USAID (2018)

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USAID, 2018 – 88 pages

This report examines how laws and regulations in developing and transitional countries limit or enable women to enter, remain, and advance in the formal sector workforce. Specifically, this study analyses how gender inequalities in civil and administrative laws, regulatory employment restrictions, occupational licenses, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment limit women’s abilities to engage in wage employment. It also analyses how laws and policies can support working women and working parents in not only remaining but also thriving in the workplace.

Women, Business and the Law – WB (2021)

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World Bank 2021 – 134 pages

Women, Business and the Law is a platform and report that analyses laws and regulations affecting women’s economic inclusion in 190 economies. Every year, the project presents progress on eight indicators structured around women’s interactions with the law as they move through their careers: Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship, Assets, and Pension.

This year’s study took place amidst a global pandemic that threatens progress toward gender equality. In this context, barriers were identified to women’s economic participation and reform of discriminatory laws encouraged. Important findings on government responses to the COVID-19 crisis and pilot research related to childcare and women’s access to justice are also included.

Global Gender Gap Report – WEF (2021)

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WEF, 2021 – 405 pages

The Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps among four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment) and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time.

Main takeaways:

  • On its current trajectory, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide.
  • The gender gap in Political Empowerment remains the largest of the four gaps tracked, with only 22% closed to date, having further widened since the 2020 edition of the report by 2.4 percentage points.
  • High-frequency data for selected economies from ILO, LinkedIn and Ipsos offer a timely analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender gaps in economic participation. Early projections from ILO suggest 5% of all employed women lost their jobs, compared with 3.9% of employed men. LinkedIn data further shows a marked decline of women’s hiring into leadership roles, creating a reversal of 1 to 2 years of progress across multiple industries.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has also accelerated automation and digitalisation, speeding up labour market disruption. Data points to significant challenges for gender parity in the future of jobs due to increasing occupational gender segregation.
  • Gender-positive recovery policies and practices can tackle those potential challenges.