In Depth
Work and Opportunities for Women

Work and Opportunities for Women

The Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and aims to enhance the economic empowerment of 300,000 women working in global value chains by 2022.

WOW is delivered by a consortium of global experts on women's economic empowerment. PwC leads this alliance that includes BSR, CARE International, the University of Manchester and Social Development Direct. WOW is driving women's economic empowerment through four interrelated approaches: 

  • Partnerships with multinational companies and business initiatives to pilot scalable ways for businesses to invest in removing barriers to women's economic empowerment. 
  • Increased visibility and knowledge around women in global supply chains through mapping and original research.
  • A helpdesk function for UK government departments to receive rapid, flexible, tailored and specialist analysis and guidance in addressing women's economic empowerment in policy and programming.
  • Working with civil society to progress tackling three of the key barriers to women's economic empowerment: informal work, unpaid care work and land tenure security.

See the WOW programme overview for more details. A range of publications are being produced by the WOW alliance, all aimed at improving understanding of women's economic empowerment and catalysing action to address key barriers for women globally in the world of work. The most recent of these documents can be found under the Resources and Links section below.

Read more 

A celebration of women’s leadership in Bangladesh’s garment industry – interactive article profiling the voices of five women leaders engaged in the WOW programme, those participating, implementing, and championing, to celebrate how they are all breaking the glass ceiling for others

The Double Day: Exploring unpaid work and care for female garment workers in Bangladesh – original research from the WOW alliance on how the unpaid care burden affects female garment workers in Bangladesh

Four good reasons for engaging with FCDOs (formerly DFID) Work and Opportunities for Women programme – blog by Gerry Boyle, former Senior Policy Advisor on women’s economic empowerment

Empower a woman and a whole cocoa community will thrive – how Mondelēz International's Cocoa Life programme is promoting women’s empowerment in their supply chains

How business can tackle social norms which hold back women’s economic empowerment – Insights blog by Claudia Canepa, coordinator of Oxfam's Knowledge Hub on women's economic empowerment in agriculture

Empowering women in the economy: The private sector is an essential partner – Cindy Drakeman, lead author of the UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment report, discusses the power business has to bring about transformative change

Dignified work on CARE Insights – for blogs and publications about Dignified work, in addition to the below

Blogs See all

What does Women’s Economic Justice mean to you? An interview with Linda Scott
As CARE gets ready to launch its new Women’s Economic Justice strategy, we’re sharing some diverse perspectives on why women’s economic justice matters and what’s needed to achieve it. Linda…
Women can’t shout loud enough… and other myths around female leadership
Women make up approximately half of workers in global value chains, yet their representation in leadership positions is poor. Through the FCDO-funded Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme –…
COVID-19 and the garment industry: Protect workers, transform the industry
The garment industry employs 60 million workers around the world, nearly 75% of whom are women. The International Labour Organization has estimated that nearly 25 million jobs could be lost…
CEO Agenda 2019: An ambitious vision lacking commitment or detail
The CEO Agenda 2019 was launched at DAVOS by a number of leading fashion brands, with support from Global Fashion Agenda. It’s good to see major brands trying to tackle…

Publications See all

Resilient Market Systems Standards: A compendium for practitioners
By 2030, the number of people living in poverty in fragile settings could rise to 620 million, or more than 80% of the world’s poorest people. CARE’s Resilient Market System…
COVID-19 could condemn women to decades of poverty: Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s and girls’ economic justice and rights
COVID-19 has become an unprecedented and unpredictable global crisis. It is “a defining moment in human history”.  COVID-19 has affected everyone, but not equally so. The pandemic is exploiting and…
CARE International Women’s Economic Empowerment Impact Report 2018
Women still have fewer economic rights, less access to economic opportunities and less control over economic resources than men due to a range of social, legal and political inequalities. Women’s…
Women in barley farming: A gender analysis of the Diageo barley value chain in Ethiopia - Executive Summary
A summary of the in-depth gender analysis conducted by CARE of Diageo’s barley value chain in the Oromia region in Ethiopia.


WOW Fund launch webinar

You might also be interested in...

COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects – McKinsey research indicates that women's jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to the crisis than men's jobs. If no action is taken to counter these effects, they estimate that global GDP growth could be $1 trillion lower in 2030 than it would be if women's unemployment simply tracked that of men in each sector

Women's economic empowerment in the time of COVID-19 – listen back to the SEEP Network virtual roundtable discussion on COVID-19 and women's economic empowerment, with a focus on employment and entrepreneurship

Trade in uncertain times: Prioritizing regional over global value chains to accelerate economic development in East Africa – a reflection from Brookings on the benefits for East Africa shifting to regional value chains in light of trade disputes, climate change and health outbreaks

A roadmap for promoting women's economic empowerment – an evidence-based roadmap from the UN and ExxonMobil Foundation on what works best to increase women's productivity and earnings in developing countries, authored by Mayra Buvinić, Rebecca Furst-Nichols and Emily Courey Pryor

How to move beyond crude gender targets to genuine empowerment – Sharmin Ahmed (BEAM Exchange) lays out three rules for meaningful gender mainstreaming in market system development activities

Cocoa and the global goals: accelerating women’s empowerment – Ulrike Joras (Oxfam) and Gaël Lescornec's (World Cocoa Foundation) blog on how business can build gender equality into supply chains. They offer lessons learned from the cocoa industry and introduce a new shared initiative

The changing landscape in women’s economic empowerment – Linda Scott (University of Oxford) on the discussion she had with Priya Basu (Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative) and Rachel Vogelstein (Director of CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program) on innovations currently emerging in women’s economic empowerment


Resources and links

All outputs from the WOW programme are hosted on the WOW page of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website. You can also stay up to date with WOW through its Twitter account

WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest – provides rapid, flexible, tailored and specialist analysis, guidance and ‘know-how’ to support UK government staff in addressing WEE in policy and programming

Promoting economic empowerment for women in the informal economy – Chris Hearle, Sally Baden and Kavita Kalsi look at strengthening women's economic empowerment outcomes through inclusive growth strategies that focus on job creation and quality in the informal economy

Violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, in garment factories and supply chains – Jo Morris and Sophie Rickard map existing evidence on the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in the garment sector

Measurement of women's economic empowerment – WOW Helpdesk guidance from Rebecca Calder, Sophie Rickard and Kavita Kalsi on measuring women's economic empowerment programmes

Women workers in global value chains: WOW research briefing no.1 – document provides an overview of WOW research by Stephanie Barrientos (University of Manchester) and Charlotte Pallangyo (WG Inclusive)

Implications of COVID-19 on women informal workers – a review of how the global pandemic has affected women informal workers, along with programmatic and policy recommendations to support this group of women through the crisis

Women's economic empowerment during the COVID-19 pandemic – a rapid review from the WOW Helpdesk of impacts and responses for economic relief and recovery

Two reports exploring the invisibility of women in global supply chains: Hidden in plain sight – a briefing on the gender data gap, and Building back equitably – a report on how women workers are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

CDC gender equality position statement – sets out the gender strategy for CDC’s investment activity

Private sector engagement with women’s economic empowerment: Lessons learned from years of practice – report by Linda Scott on the learning of nine companies engaged in women’s economic empowerment programmes around the world

UN High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment – reports and toolkits from the panel