Ensuring women’s economic empowerment is important as they make up the majority of the poorest people in the world today
Women’s economic empowerment is the process by which women increase their right to economic resources and power to make decisions that benefit themselves, their families, and their communities. Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a path for poverty reduction and equality between men and women. CARE works to ensure that poor women have access to a full range of suitable and affordable financial services critical to withstand shocks and fulfill their economic and social potential.
Women’s economic empowerment to build better livelihoods, earn more income, and create businesses that provide jobs and boost local economies. With improved financial security, other areas of women’s lives also improve: they can afford healthcare, purchase uniforms for their children, and are more likely to play a leadership role in their communities.
Here are five ways to promote women’s economic empowerment to build a more sustainable future for all women and girls, their families, and the world.
Ensure women are equipped to participate in the economy fully:
Women are less likely than men to have formal bank accounts and take out loans. Even when women do have their accounts, men might still make the decisions about how their funds are used. Women also often lack access to other financial services like savings and insurance due to a lack of financial education. In some countries, women aren’t allowed to open a bank account without a male family member’s permission.
Resources like credit access and bank accounts can help create economic opportunities for women. Financial literacy programs, reforming laws that allow women to apply for loans without a male relative’s permission, improved gender-disaggregated data, and promoting the development of digital payment systems can all help promote women’s financial inclusion.
Enforce policies and social protection systems for women:
Women are less likely to have access to social protections like pensions, unemployment benefits, maternity protection, and equal pay. On average, women earn 60% to 75% of what men make, and closing the gender pay gap is crucial to leveling the playing field.
For families that can’t afford to miss work to care for their families, childcare is a gamechanger. Flexible work arrangements benefit workers with children regardless of gender to balance the domestic labor burden more fairly. Providing child care and paid maternity leave would especially benefit poor women. A 2% investment in child care in any economy generates 6% growth in the economy.
Recognize unpaid labor as work:
Unpaid care work includes household duties such as cooking, cleaning, water, and fuel collection, child care, or elder care often carried out by women. It is estimated that 16 billion hours are spent on unpaid care work every day. Unpaid care and domestic work contribute to countries’ economies substantially but aren’t seen as real work.
The total value of unpaid care and domestic work is estimated to be between 10% and 39% of gross domestic product. Counting unpaid care work in statistics, acknowledging its place in the economy, compensating women for their contributions, and considering unpaid care work when making policy decisions can lessen the burden on women and girls.
Invest in women’s organizations and businesses:
Grassroots women’s organizations and movements are underfunded and under attack around the world. Nearly 70% of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries are financially unserved or underserved.
Women are also less likely to be entrepreneurs and encounter more obstacles when trying to start a business. Women’s economic empowerment is supporting initiatives to reduce inequality and increase opportunities for their communities but can’t continue to do so without funding.
Investing in women’s ventures helps pave the way for the next generation as women tend to spend 80% of their income on their families’ wellbeing and education.
Create decent work for women:
Women are more likely to be employed in the informal labor force and are overrepresented in domestic work in rural areas that lack protections and living wages. Women must receive equal access to education, training, new skills, new technologies, management positions, benefits, and entrepreneurship. Workplaces also need to be free of sexual harassment and violence, safe, up to health standards, and promote equal pay. When women have more employment and leadership opportunities, businesses are proven to grow and be more effective.Women’s economic empowerment