USAID’s Shari Berenbach and Department of State’s Shelly Porges spoke on working with women, while at a CIPE 2011 conference titled Democracy that Delivers for Women.

Women comprise half of the world’s population, perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, and constitute between 60 and 80 percent of the manufacturing workforce in developing countries. In addition, women business owners make up the majority of entrepreneurs in the informal sector and a large share of the micro-enterprise sector. Yet, despite their extraordinary contributions to socio-economic development, women continue to be marginalized in many countries around the world. The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) views women’s empowerment through the prism of building linkages between educational, political, civic, and economic empowerment, where civil society organizations become a leading force to remove barriers and empower women to shape the future of their own countries.

CIPE’s approach to women’s empowerment is guided by a simple principle: women’s empowerment should not be driven by simply bestowing or extending power to women. To be truly empowered, women must develop their power base, advocate for reform, and exert their own leadership to change their countries’ political, cultural, and economical environment.

Women's Empowerment Programs at CIPE

Through its programs and international partnerships, CIPE works with women in these areas:

  • Build the capacity of women’s business associations to advocate for reforms.
  • Strengthen institutions that support the participation of women in the economy such as property rights and rule of law.
  • Educate women entrepreneurs on business management and representation.
  • Reduce barriers to entry such as gender-biased laws and legal discrimination.

Read more about CIPE's women's empowerment programs.

Related Publications

2016 Annual Report

In 2016, CIPE worked on over 130 projects in more than 50 countries.

Blazing a Trail: The Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce Sri Lanka

Article at a glance

  • The Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Sri Lanka (WCIC), established in 1985, is the oldest women’s chamber of commerce in Sri Lanka and the first such organization in the world.
  • The impetus for the establishment of WCIC came from a small group of highly educated and successful women entrepreneurs and professionals who came together to form an organization to empower women in Sri Lanka.
  • Since its creation, the WCIC has been actively involved in defending the rights of women-owned businesses, advocating policy reforms that foster entrepreneurship, and representing the voice of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Establishment of Women’s Chambers of Commerce around the World

Article at a glance:

  • Women’s business organizations help address barriers to women’s participation in the political and economic life of their countries.
  • CIPE’s experience in Bangladesh and Pakistan shows how to successfully overcome legal limitations and social resistance to establishment of women’s chambers of commerce.
  • Women’s business organizations offer not only tangible benefits such as skills training or market access, but also intangible benefits such as confidence building and a more positive perception of women in business.


Center for International Private Enterprise
1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-721-9200    Fax: 202-721-9250
Privacy Policy Board Login