Although women’s access to economic opportunities has greatly increased around the world, many women still face considerable barriers to market participation, including societal and cultural barriers, discriminatory laws and business conditions and inadequate access to training, mentoring, markets, property rights and role models. There remains plenty of opportunity for women to unleash their economic potential.
Companies, NGOs and governments are increasingly recognizing women's economic participation as a gateway to household and community security. Concentrating on women as the harbingers of economic growth makes sense because investing in women produces a multiplier effect – women reinvest the majority of their income in their families and communities. Women also play key roles in creating peaceful and stable societies – which are essential for economic growth and prosperity.
Why does business engage this issue?
Women represent half of the population, but more than half of the opportunity for growth. It is calculated that women could increase their income globally by up to 76 percent if the employment participation gap and the wage gap between women and men were closed. Around the world, women are more likely than men to work in informal employment and more women than men work in vulnerable, low-paid, undervalued jobs. According the the UN, they are also more likely to be at risk of hunger because of discrimination they face in education, health care, employment, and opportunity for self determination. These facts and statistics are of course troubling, but they also represent huge opportunity. By addressing the barriers to women’s economic independence, business helps empower a huge segment of the population that is currently undervalued and underutilized. Through their programs and initiatives, companies are improving the lives of those individual women and building stronger communities and markets.
Women's Economic Empowerment Issue Network
The Women's Economic Empowerment Issue Network works to build relationships and connections to strengthen economic empowerment opportunities for women in markets globally. The Network seeks to:
- Catalyze cross sector advancement and partnerships among stakeholders
- Work with local and international Chambers of Commerce abroad to promote women’s economic empowerment on a local level
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center has recently released an important report - A Path to Empowerment: The Role of Corporations in Supporting Women's Economic Progress, along with Harvard University Kennedy School of Government's Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative.
- ENGAGE women strategically in core business operations, governance structures and corporate value chains.
- ENABLE women and girls to build their leadership capacity, human capital and economic assets.
- ADVOCATE for women’s rights and opportunities through evidence-based corporate research, communications and policy platforms.
SPOTLIGHT: Annual Women's Economic Empowerment Forum
Our 9th Annual International Women's Day Forum Archive Webcast and Agenda is live. The event was held in partnership with the U.S. Department of State:
- 2018 - Partner With Purpose: Business for Gender Equality
- 2017 - Measuring Success, Making it Count: Business Investing in Women and Girl
- 2016 - The Business of Inclusion: Global Prosperity through Women and Girls Empowerment
- 2015 - The Empowerment Bridge: Building a Lifetime of Opportunity for Women and Girls
- 2014 - Turning Inspiration into Action: Next Steps for the Private Sector to Empower Women Globally
- 2013 - How Women's Economic Empowerment Strengthens Business
- 2012 - The Role of Business in Empowering Women
- 2011 - Investing and Women & Entrepreneurship: Solutions to MDG 3
Coverage from past forums:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center brings together global companies on a regular basis to discuss the best strategies to empower women and girls through inclusion, access to education, skills, technology, finance, leadership opportunities, as well as through supply chain interventions and investment in communities . Please contact us if you would like to get involved. More about our programming, including our Path to Empowerment Series below.
- See the list of our regular Women's Economic Empowerment Programs here.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation also hosts global programs around the world on women's economic empowerment in partnership with our American Chambers of Commerce and Business Councils. The objective is to convene stakeholders on the ground in other countries to discuss strategies for women's economic empowerment involving the private sector as a partner in these efforts.
April 2017: Making Economies Work for Women and Youth in India: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and U.S.-India Business Council convened a forum on April 14 in New Delhi to discuss best practices in promoting economic empowerment for women and youth, and identify and address barriers to entrepreneurship and workforce participation. With generous support from Abbott, Amway and Walmart, the program addressed how the business community can play a pivotal role in these areas by aligning business and social goals. Participants had the opportunity to engage with stakeholders from the Indian private sector, government and NGOs, and more.
February, 2016: Promoting Women's Economic Empowerment in Mexico: Exploring Opportunities for Private Sector Engagement and Impact: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, along with the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, WEConnect International, and our corporate and nonprofit partners, convened a two-day event in Mexico City on February 9-10, 2016 focused on promoting women’s entrepreneurship. More than 30 global companies and 55 women entrepreneurs attended along with key stakeholders from government and NGOs.
December 2016: Women's Economic Empowerment and Equality Workshop - South and Southeast Asia: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation partnered with USAID and FHI 360 to co-host a workshop in Bangkok Thailand on December 8-9, 2016 to promote women’s economic empowerment in the South and Southeast Asia region. The workshop will focus on USAID’s framework on Women’s Economic Empowerment & Equality (WE3), in which USCCF has played a role as an advising stakeholder.
- Path to Empowerment Resources
- Womens Economic Empowerment Program Fact Sheet
- The State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues
- APEC Women and the Economy Dashboard
- International Finance Corporation Women and Business
- UN Women
- Aspen Institute Alliance for Artisan Enterprise
- Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative
- Intel Women and the Web Report
- Healthy Companies, Healthy Communities: Unlocking the Hidden Benefits of a Diverse Workplace, Veronica Nyhan Jones
- Leveraging Mobile Technology to Economically Empower Women, Angela Baker
- Maximizing ROI on Branded Product: What “Custom” Means Now, Jane Mosbacher Morris
- Making Economies Work for Women and Youth, Shamarukh Mohiuddin
- The Business of Inclusion: Pushing the Envelope on Gender Equality, Shamarukh Mohiuddin
- UN Foundation Seeks Private Sector Involvement on Development Goals, Shamarukh Mohiuddin and Marli Porth
- Family Planning Saves Lives, Empowers Women in Senegal, Liza Crenshaw
- Q&A with Suzanne Fallender on Intel's Global Women and Girls Initiative, Marli Porth
- The Role of Corporations in Supporting Women's Economic Progress: Engaging, Enabling Advocating, Marli Porth
- IWD 2015: How Business Empowers Women, Anne MacDonald
- Gender Capitalism at Work, Jackie Vanderbrug
- For more on Women's Economic Empowerment and to showcase your initiatives, visit here