The benefits of women’s economic empowerment are clear and well documented. When women are economically empowered, communities and families prosper. When more women participate in the labor force and civil society, they not only contribute to more inclusive economic growth but also lead governments to be more open and responsive. However, a plethora of legal and regulatory barriers limits women’s participation in the economy and their ability to start, own, and operate a business. Responding to this need, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is thrilled to announce the launch of Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE), a new four-year global programming consortium to advance the status of women and girls worldwide, led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, in close partnership with CIPE, Grameen Foundation USA, and Search for Common Ground.
Although women’s economic empowerment remains a commitment in international and regional fora, the economic gender gap has widened in the past year and women’s participation in the labor force remains low in many countries. Efforts to narrow the economic gender gap are closely tied to progress on gender gaps in other areas of society. Women face a variety of social and structural barriers – cultural, familial, religious, legal – that affect their ability to succeed and realize their full potential. For example, in Papua New Guinea, two-thirds of women there are victims of domestic violence; women and girls are frequently treated like property, and it is not uncommon for them to be bought and sold.
From the high prevalence of violence against women and political underrepresentation to financial and digital exclusion, vulnerability and marginalization from conflict, unequal access to education and more, the challenges involved in addressing today’s gender inequalities are complex and multifaceted. Closing these gender gaps and truly empowering women necessitates more holistic, integrated, and collaborative practices. The WAGE program will take a unique approach, engaging everyone in the community and teaching boys and men about how empowering women and girls benefits the community as a whole.
CIPE works to strengthen and reform democratic institutions that are key to both securing and enforcing the rights of women and to ensuring their full economic, political, and civic participation. WAGE strives to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in target countries to improve the prevention of and response to gender-based violence; advance the women, peace, and security agenda; and support women’s economic empowerment. The WAGE consortium includes more than 40 diverse international, regional, local and corporate resource partners. WAGE will implement cross-cutting strategic initiatives in target countries while engaging in collaborative research and learning to build a body of evidence on best practices and lessons learned.
WAGE will soon announce new partnerships and projects through the WAGE consortium, and CIPE looks forward to sharing good practices and lessons learned on how to design and implement impactful, holistic gender programs to empower girls and women around the world.
Srujana Penumetcha is the Assistant Program Officer for Knowledge Management at CIPE.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.