Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design – CGD (2016)

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Centre for Global Development, 2016 – 68 pages

Evidence-based overview of different strategies to achieve WEE. This report was developed to help guide private sector actions and investments to empower women economically. It reviewed the effectiveness of actions that have direct, near term impacts on women’s economic outcomes. It asked what credibly works for women entrepreneurs, farmers, and wage and salaried workers in developing countries, and for whom — all women, very poor, poor, non-poor women, and young women — and identified proven, promising, and high-potential interventions to increase women’s productivity and earnings in developing countries. This update to the Roadmap revisits the accuracy of these ratings. Additionally, it identifies possible underlying mechanisms and summarises those mechanisms in terms of a causal chain of measurable direct, intermediate, and outcomes. Lastly, it identifies aspects of smart design that can increase the effectiveness of interventions aimed at economically empowering women by addressing the gender-specific constraints they face.

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Technical Assistance Programmes: Examples of good practice in PSD – GIZ (2016)

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GIZ, 2016 – 104 pages

The study aims to identify selected examples of good practice in terms of gender-specific approaches and instruments used in private sector development. It looks at the gender impacts achieved, presenting the lessons learned in an easily accessible form. Additionally, it describes the main concepts involved, the methodological approach taken and some key data on the countries selected. Finally, seven case studies are included that embrace a wide range of development approaches to achieve WEE.

Main success factors for successful PSD programmes include:

  • Taking a gender-specific perspective.
  • Adopting a systematic stance and approach.
  • Entering strategic partnerships, cooperation arrangements and coordination schemes with other donors.
  • Conducting studies and analyses as the basis for strategy development.
  • Ensuring the involvement (participation) of implementing partners at an early stage in the design and implementation of measures, and
  • Ensuring regular review of the strategies, processes, and partner structure.

Promoting Economic Empowerment for Women in the Informal Economy – WOW (2019)

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WOW Helpdesk Guidance No. 1, 2019 – 59 pages

To strengthen WEE outcomes, inclusive growth strategies should focus not only on creating jobs in the formal economy – and ensuring access to those jobs for women – but also on improving the quality of and returns to work in the informal economy. This Note aims to provide an analysis of the gender dynamics of informal work, and a set of corresponding recommendations. Additionally, pathways for improving economic outcomes for women informal workers across four key sectors are identified. The Guidance makes five overall recommendations on how to promote better jobs for women in informal economies as part of inclusive growth strategies and across all economic development programming:

  • Context-specific, gendered analysis of informal work and labour markets, as well as dialogue with stakeholders at the country, sector, or programme level.
  • Work with governments to remove discriminatory laws, promote legal recognition of informal workers and widen the coverage of social protection systems.
  • Partner with private sector companies and other actors to improve visibility of and outcomes for informal workers participating in their supply chains.
  • Monitor gender-related outcomes in terms of quality as well as quantity of jobs.
  • Increase coverage, quality, and accessibility of sex-disaggregated data on informal work.

USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy (2020)

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USAID, 2020 – 56 pages

The goal of USAID’s gender equality and women’s empowerment policy is to improve the lives of people around the world by advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls to participate fully in, and equally benefit from, the development of their societies on the same basis as men. It contains interesting information for agencies that are looking to create or update their policy. The document includes a snapshot of gaps and opportunities on 13 related topics, i.e. agriculture and food security, conflict and insecurity, economic growth, gender-based violence. Furthermore, it outlines several agency requirements regarding its culture and practices that support the successful implementation of this policy.

Will Women in Low-income Countries Get Lost in Transformation? – ODI (2015)

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ODI, 2015 – 29 pages

Economic transformation is defined as the movement of resources (factors of production) to high-productivity activities, both within and between sectors. It encompasses both the process of structural change (movement of resources between sectors) and within sector labour productivity improvements. Focusing on low-income countries, where the problem of economic transformation is most acute, this paper analyses whether a particular economic change associated with transformation is likely to bring more opportunities for women. It develops an analytical framework that analyses how economic transformation might affect economic opportunities, choices, and welfare of women in low-income countries, and it organises the available evidence using this framework.

Main takeaway:

  • The paper argues that overall, the prospects for beneficial effects are good. However, as in other aspects of economic development, the extent of benefits for women depends on whether complementary policies are put in place to increase equality of opportunity.

Women’s Pathways to the Digital Sector: Stories of challenges and opportunities – BMZ (2017)

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BMZ, 2017 – 52 pages

This study aims at understanding the role of ICT in realising women’s rights, gender equality and WEE. It identifies the challenges and opportunities for women and girls to partake in ICT education and employment. Furthermore, the study portrays 22 women working in different roles in ICT, coming from developing as well as emerging countries from all continents.

Main takeaways:

  • There are too few opportunities that target girls outside of formal education.
  • Cost is one of the most significant barriers to initial access to, and use of, ICT for women.
  • The challenges for girls and women participating in the digital sector are compounded by content considerations even when affordable technology access is possible. Firstly, there is a distinct lack of content, or content missing in local languages, which facilitates the development of digital literacy skills. Moreover, there is a dearth of localised content for women online, that corresponds to their needs and interests.
  • The overall lack of support for girls and women’s engagement with ICT in every life stage can negatively impact their ability to develop the self-confidence needed to access and use ICT.
  • Women contend with several socially constructed barriers which impact their ability to work in the digital sector.
  • There is a need to initiate and increase the frequency of measurements for the gender digital divide in terms of access to and use of ICT.

USAID Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality (W3) Dashboard: Interactive tool compiling country-specific data on women’s economic, social, and political inclusion

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USAID, 2018 – online tool

The Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality (WE3) Dashboard provides a quick assessment of women’s inclusion in the economy, showcasing the extent to which women have attained economic, social, and political empowerment. This interactive tool provides USAID and the broader gender community with a starting point for essential discussions about women’s economic integration.

On this Dashboard, users can:

  • Explore a country’s performance on WEE.
  • View and download supporting documents (i.e. methodology and indicators).
  • Customize a comparison table with countries, regions, sub-region, and income groups.
  • Download the entire dataset used to populate the Dashboard and its metadata.


The Win-Win Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Growth: Review of the literature – GrOW (2017)

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GrOW Research Series, 2017 – 40 pages

This report explores the relationship between WEE and growth. On the one hand, it investigates if WEE contributes to growth. Does women’s more equal participation lead to increases in production, productivity and efficiency? On the other hand, it studies the evidence that, or of the extent to which, economic growth leads to enhanced WEE and gender equality. Under what conditions are there larger positive effects?

  • Section one reviews definitions of women’s empowerment, particularly economic, as they are used in research on links between empowerment and growth.
  • Second, it looks at the empowerment to growth linkage, with a short overview of the recent advocacy of the ‘win-win case’, and the evidence that lies behind this.
  • The third section reviews what is known about how economic growth and transformation contributes to gender equality.
  • The last section concludes and highlights policy areas that are important to galvanise the synergy between growth and gender equality.

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa – Recommendations for Business Action – BSR (2017)

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2017 BSR – 69 pages

This report seeks to mobilise greater private-sector action to advance WEE in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It highlights key challenges facing women in SSA and offers companies operating in the region recommendations on how to promote WEE through their actions and by enabling and influencing others. Additionally, this research includes three industry briefs providing specific insights and recommendations for companies in the apparel, mining, and mobile telecommunications sectors. While the main target group for this report is the private sector, it also includes information that is interesting for anyone that is involved in WEE programmes.

Investing in Women: New evidence for the business case – IFC (2017)

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IFC, 2017- 80 pages

The business rationale for gender-smart solutions is diverse and wide-reaching. Diversity can improve talent pipelines, strengthen market development, and build an enabling investment climate. By considering the full scope of the business case, companies can unlock opportunities for increased profit, growth, and innovation. This report supports the business case of investing in women by highlighting quantitative evidence and best-practice examples from IFC global clients and partners.

Main takeaways:

  • Companies with gender-diverse boards generate a higher return on equity than those without.
  • Companies with gender-diverse boards outperform those with no women in terms of share price performance during times of crisis or volatility.
  • High-performing companies are almost 50% more likely than low-performing companies to report that men and women have equal influence on strategy development.
  • Investors in companies with strong gender diversity strategies receive excess returns running at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5%.