When women and girls participate in the economic, political, social and cultural lives of their communities and countries, it’s not just good for women – it’s good for societies, economies, and businesses.Economically empowering women in a sustainable way requires an integrated and holistic approach that addresses the underlying structural barriers that women often face in striving to become full participants in their economies and societies.
This was the conclusion of a 2014 report commissioned by the Oak Foundation on 31 of the largest corporate funded women’s economic empowerment programs.The report described how organizations could put this integrated approach into action by using eight building blocks to design a strategic framework for their women's empowerment programs. By doing so, these programs are more likely to create lasting social and financial value.
A report released in early 2016 by ICRW and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) reinforced these findings, looking at sector-specific strategies for women’s economic empowerment.
The importance of an integrated approach has also been reinforced by other studies. In September 2015, McKinsey Global Institute released its Power of Parity report, which highlighted the multi-faceted issues inhibiting women’s economic empowerment, including political under-representation, fewer legal rights, violence against women, low maternal and reproductive health, unequal education levels, and financial exclusion. That report concluded that gender parity at work was not possible without achieving gender parity in society.
More recently, The UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment – which brought together 20 leaders from government, business, NGOs and international organizations - released two reports on taking action for transformational change on women’s economic empowerment. The first included seven drivers of economic empowerment, including strengthening
Companies have a range of incentives to support the women who work and live across their entire value change.
Wide-reaching networks in their communities and intimate awareness of the cultural, social, political and religious obstacles to creating change.
Deep understanding of the multi-faceted issues that can affect the ability of women and girls to become full participants in the economy and society.
Extensive experience advocating for change and building support in local and national politics and legal systems.
Highly efficient service providers, operating within the cost structure of their home country.