A true democracy cannot exist without the inclusion of women. Women make up half of the world’s population, and yet in most countries they remain an untapped resource needed to strengthen democratic governance and economic prosperity. Although in a growing number of countries women can now vote or hold office, all too often they cannot own property, register businesses, obtain commercial loans, or otherwise fully participate in the economy because of formal legal barriers as well as informal social and cultural norms. To reduce such barriers, business associations and chambers of commerce, serving as the voice of the business community, bring together companies from all backgrounds – including women entrepreneurs – and facilitate private sector participation in transparent policy debates. However, in many countries, such organizations are male-dominated and often overlook the importance of advocating policy solutions to promote women in the economy. Now more than ever, it is crucial to support private sector organizations to better represent the needs of women entrepreneurs in the policymaking process, and continue to help women become active reformers.
CIPE is partnering with the National Democratic Institute (NDI)’s Women, Gender, and Democracy team in a multiyear program to help private sector organizations in countries such as Bolivia, Nigeria, and Nepal focus more strategically on recruiting and representing female members, both through internal reforms and engagement with decision-makers and other stakeholders. Combining the expertise of CIPE’s engagement with business leaders and NDI’s background in political party development, this joint program is aiming to help build the capacity of business associations to better engage women in policymaking process and promote inclusive growth. Building democracies that deliver for all is at the core of strengthening democratic reforms around the world and making democracies sustainable. By supporting associations to be more inclusive of women and address the political and economic aspirations of women, CIPE is strengthening democracies and help women become active reformers in their countries.