BLOGPOST: Unlocking Opportunities for Women with Smart Design

Over at the Center for Global Development blog, Mayra Buvinic and Megan O'Donnell share key takeaways from their new report, Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design,  building on work done by the UN Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation on what works to promote women’s economic empowerment for whom, and how to effectively measure impact. Read the full blogpost here.  

Some excerpts:

More than 30 years ago, the late development economist Mahbub Ul-Haq summarized progress on global women’s issues as a story of ‘expanding capabilities and restricted opportunities.’ This motto still applies today, with one very important difference: major advancements in research now provide the evidence to do something about it. And this something may not be as daunting a task or require as many resources as previously thought. The assumption has been that targeted investments increase women’s capabilities and then women change the world. While increasing women’s capabilities is still paramount, especially in situations where there are glaring gender gaps, novel and oftentimes minor changes in working and living environments can unlock opportunities for women—and with far fewer demands placed on them.


We’ve learned that what seems neutral is often biased: when trainings take place far from a village or during the day, women are less likely to attend, due to increased constraints on their time and mobility as primary caretakers. When access to capital requires proof of ID and collateral, women are less likely to be able to take out loans to grow their businesses. Changing women is not the only way forward; we have to think about changing the biases women encounter in working environments. This should ‘level the playing field’ and help to unlock economic opportunities for women.

CGD also has a podcast episode with Mayra Buvinic on why women's economic empowerment is a smart investment. 


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