Browse by Theme: Women's Economic Empowerment

The private sector is a main actor involved in women’s economic empowerment in rural value chains: large traders, retailers or manufacturers often hold the keys to improving women’s access to extension services, financial services, input provision, market information and technology. They also have the negotiating power to help put gender equality on the agenda of producers’ associations and cooperatives.

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The World Bank Group has been consulting on its plan to update its Gender Strategy. We decided to focus our response to the consultation largely on women’s economic empowerment as a critical component of women’s empowerment and gender equality, and within women’s economic empowerment, at financial inclusion.

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The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa last week (13-16 July) got rather tepid and mixed reviews. Surprisingly, for a conference on financing, the outcome document contains very few numbers, and many NGOs are unhappy about the lack of funding commitments (including CARE), lack of a commitment to a new intergovernmental tax body, and a concern about the prominence of private financing (Oxfam, CAFOD, Christian Aid).

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Page updated 4 June 2015: read below the live updates from CARE’s European Development Day 2015 event in Brussels.

The event included an overview from facilitator Louise James (Global Programs Director, Accenture Development Partnerships), who introduced new research by CARE and Accenture which uncovers key trends in the role of banks in furthering financial inclusion in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on women living in poverty.

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The real challenge for the new Sustainable Development Goals is what happens after they are agreed. Deciding on the goals and targets is only the first step; backing them up with the commitment to implement them is crucial. The emerging consensus between the private sector, civil society, governments and multilateral agencies on the need for progress on economically empowering women is a positive sign. But how can business help make this ambition a reality?

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Financial inclusion has been a key part of CARE’s work for over 20 years. We’ve learned from an enormous number of programmes in dozens of countries that giving women access to savings is an essential first step in their economic empowerment. The next step is accessing formal financial services – a win-win that banks the unbanked while opening up new markets and providing new customers for banks. But are banks making the most of this opportunity?

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Post-war Sri Lanka (since 2009) has much to offer tourists, and the country is relying on the hospitality and tourism sector to drive up economic gains and create a positive ripple effect on related social factors – such as meeting the employment needs of several million young Sri Lankans on the look-out to secure a job. But why is it that so many women in the sector are not being supported in their careers – and why, in some cases, is it so hard for women to even enter the workforce?

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