Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative
When women are economically empowered, they re-invest in their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that spurs economic growth and contributes to global peace and stability. The Trump Administration is launching the first-ever whole-of-government approach to advance global women’s economic empowerment, W-GDP.
W-GDP seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 through U.S. government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new, innovative fund at USAID.
Women Enabled in the Economy
Remove Restrictive Legal, Regulatory, and Cultural Barriers
The environment for economic activity in any country often includes numerous barriers that disadvantage women as they pursue employment, business, and investment opportunities. Broadly defined, the enabling environment for women in the economy encompasses the legal and regulatory framework, policies and practices (public and private sector), and social norms that support women to operate in the formal economy, or improve basic conditions for women working in the informal economy. Conversely, each of these factors, if not addressed, can stunt women’s economic empowerment.
Women are frequently discouraged and often effectively barred from economic engagement by disproportionate burdens of unpaid care, gender-based violence, underinvestment in their education, need for spousal approval for employment, and legal barriers to participation in certain professions. Some of the economic barriers women face arise from foundational limitations, such as laws that limit women’s rights to inherit, own property, or enter contracts in their own name. Reducing those barriers while ensuring women have the legal and policy protections they need requires deliberate efforts by government, private sector, and civil society.
The benefits of women in the economy are substantial. Countries with greater balance of men and women in the workplace and workforce have greater growth, innovation, and stability. The same goes for firms: those with a stronger ratio of women in leadership, management, and the workforce outperform those with fewer women. While only five percent of the CEOs in Africa are women, the positive impact of female leadership is clear: businesses in Africa with the most women on their boards have an operating profit over 20 percent higher than industry averages. Improvements in the enabling environment increase economic opportunities for all women in that economy, which in turn benefits their families, communities, firms, and nations as a whole through broad-based economic growth and development.
Women’s economic empowerment is also integral to our collective security. The larger the opportunity gap between men and women, the more likely a country is to be involved in violent conflict. Conversely, nations in which women have equal opportunities are more likely to thrive and solve challenges peacefully.
Women’s economic empowerment and equality exists when the enabling environment reduces the barriers women face to participating in the economy, whether those are legal, regulatory, or cultural.