Women's Economic Empowerment: Key Issues and Policy Options

Published: May 2009

The central argument of the paper is organised around the limits to markets as a means of overcoming ?durable inequalities' which reflect long-established power relations and the need for public action by states and civil society to address these underlying causes. The paper sketches out a number of areas where policies could make a difference, including a difference on the terms on which women can participate in, contribute to and benefit from processes of economic growth. In addition, the paper suggests a number of cross-cutting interventions which would promote the effectiveness of each of these areas: the importance of collective capabilities to promote women's participation in civil society and politics; research and information to track progress; and financial resources necessary to achieve this progress.

Key Findings

  • The values that underpin the arguments for women's empowerment include respect for human rights and social justice, the central importance of human capital and human capabilities -- including women's own -- and the need for more balanced processes of growth.
  • Policies could make a difference, including a difference on the terms on which women can participate in, contribute to and benefit from processes of economic growth. They include: 1. Building women's human capital and capabilities so that they enjoy higher returns to their labour efforts 2. Redistributing reproductive responsibilities through laboursaving technologies, affordable and reliable care facilities and strengthening the caring role of fathers 3. Equalising property rights, including land, housing and associated resources 4. Mainstreaming women into the financial system, perhaps more necessary now than ever before 5. Promoting gender-aware social protection in increasingly insecure markets.
  • Cross-cutting interventions which would promote the effectiveness of each of these areas: 1. the importance of collective capabilities to promote women's participation in civil society and politics; 2. research and information to track progress; and 3. financial resources necessary to achieve this progress.

Populations Women

Complementary Outcomes Sexual And Reproductive Health, Women's Rights

Publishers Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida)

Funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)