Women’s Economic Empowerment

This page offers information on how to implement private sector development (PSD) programmes in gender-sensitive ways, and to promote women’s economic empowerment (WEE) – which is now recognised as one of the major driving forces of global economic growth and well-being.

At a glance: Short reads on Women’s Economic Empowerment

      1. There are persistent gender gaps in the economic empowerment of women and men in the agricultural sector, across different countries.
      2. Economic transformation offers new opportunities for entrepreneurship, wage labour and social empowerment, but women often benefit less from these than men.
      3. In the agricultural sector, successful solutions to WEE have often focused on addressing the most binding constraints (e.g. land rights), or enhancing women’s participation in markets that they are already active in (e.g. through women’s groups).
      4. Some regulatory reforms and agricultural value chain interventions (e.g. sustainability standards) are found to have social empowerment benefits, and these benefits often seem to increase over time.
      5. There is however also new evidence that economic development programmes have not always been effective in addressing binding constraints for women.
      6. Recent research is inconclusive on the relationship between WEE and partner violence, but programmes can probably do more to reduce the risk of doing harm.

DCED publications

DCED members have formed a Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group (WEE WG) to share experiences and develop guidelines on effective practice. The theme has also been addressed by the DCED Business Environment and Results Measurement Working Groups. All DCED publications on WEE are listed below. Click here for information on training opportunities in WEE.

Key Overview Documents

Making the economic and business case for WEE

Constraints and Opportunities for WEE in different sectors and countries

Integrating gender and WEE in different PSD approaches

WEE and the Business Environment

WEE and Market Systems Development

WEE and Business Development Services

Preventing and responding to gender-based violence

Note that the DCED’s research update on WEE (2017) includes some original studies on the links between women’s economic empowerment and increase or decrease of partner violence.

Measuring Gender and WEE Results in PSD

PSD programme case studies highlighting impacts across different empowerment dimensions

Photo credits

Nata Sisvadze/ALCP Georgia; Russell Brott; Market Development Facility