The Business Case for Women's Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach

Published: September 2014

This document describes how the Oak Foundation commissioned Dalberg Global Development Advisors (Dalberg) and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to better understand corporate-funded women's economic empowerment programs. This study explores what works and what doesn't, and provides a business case for how these programs can deliver greater benefits for both the women they wish to empower and for the companies themselves. At the core is the hypothesis that women's economic empowerment programs would be far more effective if corporates implement an integrated approach in partnership with the women's rights community. The evidence base for this report consists of a representative sample of 31 of the largest corporate-funded women's economic empowerment programs run by 28 companies and corporate foundations.

Key Findings

  • While there are a lot of corporations investing in women's economic empowerment, there is little available data about what's working and what's not. More data could help improve program outcomes and increase return on investment.
  • Most programs focus on access to education, financial support, training and employment opportunities rather than a more integrated approach based on a human rights framework that delivers the broader conditions necessary for women to thrive.
  • There is an opportunity and desire to increase collaboration and improve communications between the women's rights sector and corporations working in women's economic empowerment programs.

Populations Women

Complementary Outcomes Education And Literacy, Gender-based Violence, Sexual And Reproductive Health, Women's Leadership, Women's Rights

Industries Business, Finance

Publishers Dalberg Global Development Advisors, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Oak Foundation, Witter Ventures

Funded by Oak Foundation