Gender and development

Women’s Economic Empowerment


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The economic empowerment of women is one of the most fundamental components of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment more broadly. If women participated in the economy identically to men, it would add up to USD 28 trillion, or 26%, to annual GDP in 2025 compared with a business-as-usual scenario; and this economic potential is highest in developing countries.

However, focusing on women's economic empowerment alone will not automatically lead to enhanced gender equality: there is a need to also address wider elements of power imbalances in society and look into the root causes of inequalities. The unequal distribution of unpaid care work is one example of this, and it’s holding back progress on this front.

In addition, there is a need to understand how policies and programmes can create unintended negative impacts and additional barriers for the most vulnerable and marginalised women and girls.

Aid towards gender equality in the productive and economic sectors

Source: OECD, Creditor Reporting System (database)

ODA to developing countries reached USD 153 billion in 2019. USD 53 billion of bilateral allocable aid (on average per year) focused on gender equality in 2018-19. That corresponds to 45% and is higher than ever before.

The bulk of this amount (USD 47.5 billion) was committed to programmes that integrate gender equality as a significant, or mainstreamed, policy objective.

Only USD 5.7 billion was dedicated to gender equality as the principal objective of the programme, corresponding to 5 % of bilateral aid.

Total aid integrating a gender equality perspective in the economic and productive sectors – which are essential for women’s economic empowerment – reached USD 18 billion on average per year in 2018-19, representing 47% of DAC members’ total bilateral aid in these sectors.


Policy approaches to unpaid care work

Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment: New Approaches to Unpaid Care Work in Developing Countries


Women’s unequal share of unpaid care work can prevent their full participation in the economies of developing countries; however, care needs are growing globally. How can governments and development partners meet the needs of families and communities, while ensuring that all citizens benefit from economic opportunities and fair remuneration? This report focuses on identifying what works to address unpaid care work and sheds light on how governments, donors in the private sector and civil society actors – among others – can design policies to support both those who need care and those who provide care. The report brings together existing knowledge of policy options for unpaid care work across regions, in four policy areas: infrastructure, social protection, public services and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household.


Further reading


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