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G7 Charlevoix Progress Report

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Women’s Economic Empowerment as a Driver for Innovation, Shared Prosperity and Sustainable Development

G7 Accountability Working Group (AWG)

Accountability and transparency are core G7 principles that help maintain the credibility of G7 Leaders’ decisions. At the Summit in 2007 in Heiligendamm, Germany, G8 members introduced the idea of building a system of accountability. In 2009, the Italian Presidency formally launched this mechanism in L’Aquila and approved the first, preliminary Accountability Report and the Terms of Reference for the G7 Accountability Working Group (AWG). Since the first comprehensive report was issued at Muskoka in 2010, the AWG has produced a comprehensive report reviewing progress on all G7 commitments every three years, along with sector-focused accountability reports in interim years. These reports monitor and assess the implementation of development and development-related commitments made at G7 Leaders’ Summits, using methodologies based on specific baselines, indicators, and data sources. The reports cover commitments from the previous six years and earlier commitments still considered to be relevant. The AWG draws on the knowledge of relevant sectoral experts and provides both qualitative and quantitative information. For 2018, the Canadian Presidency chose Women’s Economic Empowerment as the theme for the Charlevoix Progress Report.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

G7 Leaders are committed to supporting women’s economic empowerment to help ensure women and girls achieve their full potential. Gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the promotion and protection of their human rights are critical to building peace, reducing poverty, growing inclusive economies and achieving sustainability for a prosperous world. To advance women’s economic empowerment, it is crucial to promote relevant public policies across all socio-economic sectors. This includes equal access to quality education, quality health care and economic opportunities, including land, capital, and credit as well as global value chains. It is also essential for women to participate equally in decision-making at all levels, and for all to benefit fully from social protections that prevent and address exploitation and abuse. When women have full and equal ability to participate in the economy, countries and communities experience broader economic growth and lasting change that benefits everyone.

As such, G7 members identified women’s economic empowerment as a shared development priority in 2015. The Charlevoix Progress Report outlines the progress made by the G7 in implementing the 2015 Elmau commitment on women’s economic empowerment, specifically to “support our partners in developing countries and within our own countries to overcome discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women and girls and other cultural, social, economic and legal barriers to women’s economic participation.” In both 2015 and 2016, G7 members have allocated 28% of their official development assistance (ODA) funds to help developing countries build and strengthen women’s economic empowerment across various sectors. G7 members and the EU have also supported projects and programs to help eliminate violence against women allocating US$ 529 million towards this goal in 2015 and 2016.

In 2017, G7 Leaders further committed to advancing this objective by adopting the G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment. During its 2018 G7 Presidency, Canada continued this work by focusing on investing in growth that works for everyone, emphasizing women and girls as a central component of these efforts. Canada created the Gender Equality Advisory Council for its presidency to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are integrated across all themes, activities and initiatives while amplifying women’s voices and leadership.

As the first detailed G7 progress report on women’s economic empowerment, The Charlevoix Progress Report provides a preliminary analysis of the issues women and girls are facing and highlights the efforts made by G7 countries and the European Union to economically empower women in developing countries. It showcases G7 members’ commitment to strengthening and supporting women’s economic empowerment through their international assistance policies, strategies and priorities, as well as through their financial contributions. The various examples included in the Report also highlight the important role played by civil society, women’s rights groups and the private sector in promoting women’s economic empowerment, and the necessity of positively engaging men and boys.

G7 members have made considerable investments in fostering an enabling environment for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, but much still remains to be done. The G7 will continue to focus on addressing these barriers, in order to foster sustainable growth so that no one and no country will be left behind.

Chapter 1 - An Approach to Growth and Sustainable Development that is Responsive to and Inclusive of Women - the G7 Development Agenda


  • The G7 sees women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship as drivers for innovation, inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.
  • The G7 recognizes the large number of barriers to women’s economic empowerment including restrictive social norms or cultural barriers, an uneven burden of unpaid work and care, unequal access to information and to digital technologies, marginalization in decision-making processes, discriminatory laws and lack of legal protections, violence against women, sexual exploitation and abuse, inadequate access to health care, and malnutrition.
  • The G7 remains committed to strengthening women’s equal access to well-paid job opportunities, quality education and training, productive resources, land, financial and digital assets, as well as promoting an equal distribution of unpaid care work.
  • G7 and other international commitments to gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment must be complemented by improved, sex-disaggregated data collection methodologies and measurements to enhance accountability.

Gender equality is an important part of the foundation for a prosperous world. Without dedicated efforts to address and eliminate gender inequality and discrimination experienced by women and girls, global development targets will remain elusive. Studies indicate that an increase in female labour force participation results in faster economic growth.Footnote 1 A new report released by the World Bank Group finds that if women have the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth would increase by US$23,620 per person, on average, in the 141 countries studied for a total of US$160 trillion per annum.Footnote 2 At the 2015 Summit, G7 Leaders emphasized that: “Women’s economic participation reduces poverty and inequality, promotes growth and benefits all. Yet women regularly face discrimination which impedes economic potential, jeopardizes investment in development, and constitutes a violation of their human rights.” At the same Summit, G7 Leaders also committed to investing in women’s entrepreneurship as “a key driver of innovation, growth and jobs.”

G7 members are committed to taking concrete action to support women and girls, to allow them to realize their full potential. Evidence shows that gender equality, as well as the empowerment of women and girls are significant factors to building peace, reducing poverty and achieving sustainability.

Removing systemic barriers and increasing greater access to and control over assets such as land, housing and capital, advances gender equality and the empowerment of women which positively impacts the economy of all nations. Women already generate nearly 40% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and there remains an untapped potential for further growth led by women. The OECD estimates that a 50% reduction in the gender gap in labour force participation could lead to an additional gain of about 6% in GDP by 2030, and a further 6% gain (12% in total) if gender gaps are completely eliminated.Footnote 3 The socioeconomic benefits of gender equality cannot be ignored.Footnote 4

This chapter provides an overview of the evolution of women’s economic empowerment. This G7 priority aligns with recent international development frameworks, which put women and girls at the centre of development efforts.

1.1 - Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Pillars for Transformative Growth and Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, the World Humanitarian Summit’s Agenda for Humanity and the Grand Bargain, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the United Nations Global Compact, all include references to gender equality or equity, and in some cases also include concrete commitments and actions to achieve gender equality and to empower women and girls. These international frameworks build on the foundational work of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and offer increased impetus towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda. [See Textbox 1: Definition of Women’s Economic Empowerment].

Textbox 1: Definitions of Women’s Economic Empowerment

While there is currently no single definition of women’s economic empowerment (WEE), the OECD’s version is widely employed: “the capacity of women and men to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth.”Footnote 5

Other comprehensive definitions expand on the OECD definition to bring in elements of agencyFootnote i and resilience. A Policy Brief from UN Women (2012) defines women’s economic empowerment as “increasing the ability of women to bring about change that drives valuable outcomes as a result of their increased economic capabilities and agency”Footnote 6 including elements of participation (in markets, labour) but also in effecting changes to markets, the gender division of labour, access to resources and influencing institutions. The significance and centrality of agency is further reinforced in Laszlo et al.’s 2017 definition noting that women who are economically empowered are increasingly able to “acquire access to, and control over, economic resources, opportunities and markets, enabling them to exercise agency and decision-making power to benefit all areas of their lives.”Footnote 7

Despite some important social development gains for women over the past three decades (including reduced maternal mortality and improved access to primary education),Footnote 8 progress on gender equality has overall been uneven, and the gains made, in many instances, are fragile and women’s economic participation remains weak. The 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action: inspiration then and now found that “discriminatory norms, stereotypes and violence remain pervasive, evidencing gender-based discrimination that continues to be deeply entrenched in the minds of individuals, institutions and societies.” The review also documents the many other barriers and constraints to empowerment and equality including vulnerabilities arising from conflicts, financial and economic crises, climate change and volatile food prices.Footnote 9 The prevalence of women in informal employment and in poor working conditions, as well as the overwhelming burden of care work that women and girls carry and its associated impacts on women’s participation in the labour market, earnings, pension gaps and retirement savings, also limits equality between men and women, and women’s economic empowerment (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Large gender gaps in the labour force (1990-2017)

Figure 1: Large gender gaps in the labour force (1990-2017)
Text version
Large gender gaps in the labour force (1990-2017)
 Central & Eastern EU & Central AsiaDeveloped RegionsEast Asia & the PacificLatin America & the CaribbeanMiddle East & North AfricaSouth AsiaSub-Saharan AfricaWorld

The UN High-Level Panel (HLP) for Women’s Economic Empowerment found four systemic barriers to women’s economic empowerment that affect women’s ability to participate in the economy: discriminatory laws and a lack of legal protection; the failure to reduce and redistribute unpaid household work and care; a lack of access to financial, digital and property assets; and adverse social norms.Footnote 10 Barriers to women’s economic participation also have negative impacts on businesses, communities and national economies. Tackling economic disparities must therefore address the broad-ranging social and other systemic barriers to gender equality and women’s participation in the workforce, as well as the practical constraints to transformative growth and development.

Improving the livelihoods of women and fostering equal economic opportunity is a universal challenge (see Figure 2 on Inequality in the Workforce between Women and Men – UN Stats, The World’s Women, 2015). The World’s Women Report further highlights that in 2015 only 50% of working-age women were in the labour force, compared to 77% of working-age men.Footnote 11 Addressing gender equality in the world of work must begin with an examination of the barriers to women’s economic empowerment.

1.2 - The G7 Agenda for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls have been long-standing priorities for the G7 (see Textbox 2: Brief History of G7/G8 commitments to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment). Building on these commitments, women’s economic empowerment was identified as a top G7 development priority in 2015. More recently, as part of the 2017 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment, G7 countries affirmed the importance of eliminating violence against women and girls in public and private spheres, and to address structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment linked to discriminatory practices, gender stereotypes, negative social norms, and to harmful attitudes and behaviours.

G7 Leaders at the 2017 Taormina Summit further focused on the structural policies that are likely to have the greatest impact on promoting gender equality through enabling women’s labour-force participation, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. The Taormina Roadmap outlines three core priorities, as well as corresponding actions and recommendations to foster the economic empowerment of women and girls. The core priorities are:

  1. Increasing women’s participation, and promoting equal opportunities and fair leadership-selection processes at all levels of decision-making;
  2. Strengthening the foundation of women’s access to decent-quality jobs; and,
  3. Eliminating violence against women and girls throughout their lives.Footnote 12

(See Annex A for the G7 Roadmap for a Gender Responsive Economic Environment).

During Canada’s 2018 G7 Presidency, gender equality – which is fundamental for the fulfillment of human rights and is a social and economic imperative– is a top priority. Two of the five themes of the Charlevoix Summit are: Investing in Growth that Works for Everyone; and Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Furthermore, Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency helped promote a transformative G7 agenda, and supported Leaders and ministers in ensuring that gender equality and gender analysis are integrated across all themes, activities and outcomes of Canada’s G7 Presidency.

Textbox 2: Brief History of G7/G8 commitments to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment

1990: Houston, USA – Committed to improved educational opportunities for women and their greater integration into the economy (Economic Declaration, para 53).

1998: Birmingham, UK – Committed to recognize that all people, men and women deserve the opportunity to contribute to and share in national prosperity through work and a decent standard of living (Final Communiqué, para 13).

2002: Kananaskis, Canada – Committed to improving education for girls in all countries with significant gender disparities (A New Focus on Education for All, page 3).

2004: Sea Island, USA – Committed to launch microfinance initiatives to increase economic opportunities and business training for empowering women (G8 Action Plan: Applying the Power of Entrepreneurship to the Eradication of Poverty).

2007: Heiligendamm, Germany – Committed to investing and being responsible in gender equality for the social dimension of globalization (Summit Declaration: Growth and Responsibility in the World Economy, para 21).

2008: Hokkaido Toyako, Japan – Committed promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principle in G8 development cooperation through mainstreaming and specific actions. (Leaders Declaration, para 41).

2010: Muskoka, Canada – Committed, endorsed and launched the Muskoka Initiative to significantly reduce the number of maternal, newborn and under five child deaths in developing countries (Declaration: Recovery and New Beginnings, para 9).

2011: Deauville, France – Committed to support democratic reform around the world and to respond to the aspirations for freedom, including freedom of religion, and empowerment, particularly for women and youth (Leaders’ Declaration, para 2).

2014: Brussels, EU – Committed to show unprecedented resolve to promote gender equality, to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, to end child, early and forced marriage and to promote full participation and empowerment of all women and girls (Summit Declaration, para 40).

2015: Elmau, Germany – Committed to women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, vocational training, maternal health, and overcome sexual violence in conflict, and ending violence against women (Leaders’ Declaration).

2016: Ise-Shima, Japan – Committed to creating a society where all women and girls are empowered and actively engaged for sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth through education and training, and promoting active role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields (Leaders’ Declaration).

2017: Taormina, Italy – Committed to mainstreaming gender equality into all the G7 policies and welcomed the important contribution provided by the W7. To foster the economic empowerment of women and girls, G7 members furthermore adopted the first “G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment” (Leaders’ Declaration, para 18).

Chapter 2 - G7 Policy Priorities and Funding for Women’s Economic Empowerment


  • G7 members have made important investments in fostering an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment, helping to overcome discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women and girls, and other cultural, social, economic and legal barriers to women’s participation in the economy.
  • G7 members have made notable contributions to advancing women’s equal rights and economic empowerment through specific policies, and international-assistance programmes and initiatives as illustrated in the chapter.
  • The active engagement of partners, such as civil-society organizations, women’s rights organizations and movements, and private companies, within their own and in partner countries, is seen as essential to achieving women’s economic empowerment, as is the positive engagement of men and boys.

G7 members play an important role in strengthening and supporting women’s economic empowerment. To promote gender equality and to advance women’s economic empowerment, G7 members have integrated this commitment into their international-assistance priorities, policies and strategies as outlined below. Significant financial contributions have been made to increase women’s access to economic opportunities and to assist countries in the establishment and implementation of laws, policies and institutions supporting women’s economic empowerment.

This report assesses progress on implementing the 2015 Elmau commitment by measuring two indicators. The first is G7 support that directly enables women’s economic participation by targeting gender equality as a principal or significant objective in economic and productive sectors and in enabling sectors (such as education and training). Section 2.2 Table 1 provides a breakdown of G7 official development assistance (ODA) in these areas.

The second indicator focuses on support for women to overcome violence, which harms them and reduces their ability to participate economically. Section 2.2 Table 2 provides a breakdown of ODA focused on eliminating violence against women. In addition to drawing on data from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the commitment to eliminate violence against women allows G7 members to report on their own activities in support of overcoming of barriers to women’s economic participation, in keeping with the flexible approach and broad views expressed in the commitment’s language.

2.1 - Policy Priorities


Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy and Commitments to Women’s Economic Empowerment

Canada is committed to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment as the most effective approach to achieving sustainable growth that works for everyone. Its Feminist International Assistance Policy recognizes the transformative impact women and girls, including adolescent girls, can have when they are able to reach their full economic potential.

A Holistic Approach

In keeping with Agenda 2030, Canada recognizes that global challenges are interconnected and require a coordinated response. To best increase women’s economic empowerment, Canada uses a holistic approach - one that includes diplomacy, trade, security and the expertise of various partners, including a wide range of Canadian government departments and agencies, and the private sector. This approach seeks innovative solutions and partnerships to challenge traditional models of international assistance and accelerate progress towards sustainable development. For example, Canada has established its new development-finance institute, FinDev Canada, to build more partnerships with businesses in developing countries, especially those operated by women and youth. Canada is also committed to a progressive trade agenda that fully considers gender equality during trade negotiations and incorporates greater gender considerations in its free trade agreements (FTAs), demonstrated by the new trade and gender chapter of the modernized Canada-Chile FTA.

Canada also believes it is essential to create an enabling environment for women’s economic rights to be realized and upheld. To this end, it committed $650 million over three years to close the persistent gaps in sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls, recognizing that women must have control over their own sexual and reproductive health choices to take full advantage of economic opportunities. Canada also seeks to promote women’s access to technical and vocational education and training, as well as to advance women’s integration in dynamic value chains that are economically and environmentally sustainable. This increases accesses to decent work, helps women and girls become more competitive and innovative, and increases their employment and market opportunities. By seeking to expand the ability of governments to enable women’s full participation in decision-making through support of gender-based analyses and gender-responsive budgeting in public management, Canada is also helping to support women’s leadership in businesses, communities and institutions, and tackle their economic and political marginalization.

The sustainability of economic empowerment can be fragile, as a change in one’s conditions can quickly erase the gains of years of hard work, leading to destitution and disempowerment. As such, financial inclusion, improved social protections, and the adoption of techniques that mitigate the impacts of climate change, are important policy objectives for Canada to increase women’s economic resilience, particularly in rural areas.

Further examples of concrete initiatives for Canada to increase women’s economic empowerment are noted below:

Advancing Women’s Economic Rights and Leadership

In 2017, Canada made a strategic decision to make women’s rights organizations and movements key partners in the design and implementation of international assistance initiatives, recognizing their critical role in achieving social change for gender equality. Canada committed $150 million to the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program to support local women’s organizations and movements that advance women’s rights in developing countries.

Canada’s International Development Research Centre’s Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women Program opens promising avenues with new approaches to address disempowerment resulting from the disproportionate burden of care shouldered by women. This seeks to address gender norms, particularly social and family expectations regarding unpaid work, which constitute a systemic barrier to women’s economic empowerment.

Decent Jobs and Women-Led Enterprises

Canada contributed $20 million to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, a World Bank mechanism that aims to promote women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries and $15 million to the Digital Livelihoods: Youth and the Future of Work at Scale project, which trains women and youth to use digital tools.Footnote ii These initiatives help women entrepreneurs access capital, networks and markets in higher value-added sectors.


Women’s economic empowerment, a priority for France’s external action

France considers women’s economic empowerment as a driving vector of progress and sustainable development. In full conformity with President Macron’s commitment to make gender equality the “great cause” of his five-year term, France adopted its gender strategy for 2018–2022 at the last Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) in February, 2018. The strategy outlines France’s priorities for the promotion of gender equality in its external action and acts as a roadmap for the French Ministry of Foreign affairs’ implementing agencies, such as the French Agency for Development (AFD).

As professional inequalities continue to undermine women’s full potential, and have a direct economic impact on societies, France highlights women’s economic empowerment as one of its five priorities. In accordance with its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, France is strongly committed to making women take the lead to reach sustainable development. To take concrete steps to make gender equality a reality, France commits to increase girls’ and women’s access to services and more particularly to social services such as lifelong education and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

France also identifies access to land property, financial services, transport infrastructures, legal services, and information and communication technologies as essential conditions for women’s economic empowerment. More specifically, France targets the elimination of gender stereotypes in the world of work, helping women to successfully integrate into sectors where they are currently under- represented, they are active but not recognized such as in climate change and ecological transition or to create their own profitable companies. It also recognizes the role of public policies in guaranteeing women’s employment, social protection, and services and security at the workplace.

France promotes humanitarian-aid programmes designed to guarantee women’s livelihoods in crisis and post-crisis situations. Finally, France promotes women’s role in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. By accounting for 60 to 80% of the agricultural production in developing countries, women contribute to rural economy and food security, a sector that is essential but under threat by climate change. Climate variations put women in a very vulnerable and insecure economic position. France strongly defended the integration of a gender dimension in the Paris Climate Agreement and in the Gender Action Plan of the UNFCCC to specifically integrate these variations into climate change policies, negotiations and finances at the local and international level.

France’s recommended approach

A rights-based approach

Gender inequality in the workplace is often fomented by patriarchal and cultural standards. The fact that women are not always aware of their rights exacerbates their silence and can lead to resignation. France fosters a rights-based approach to development programmes so that women gain better knowledge of their country’s constitutional and international commitments, and to delegitimize professional discrimination.

A cross-cutting and lifecycle approach

Cultural and structural factors contribute to unequal access to economic opportunities. Women’s access to economic opportunities depends on their access to education and professional training, to sexual and reproductive health and rights, their right to decide when to marry and have children, the distribution of domestic and family responsibilities, etc. Therefore, France understands gender issues as cross-cutting and all-encompassing, and encourages a lifecycle approach, centered on specific need and age categories. Young girls and adolescents deserve special attention as they face particular challenges that can increase their vulnerability, such as unequal access to education, child marriage and early pregnancy.

Engaging men and boys

Gender equality cannot be achieved without the involvement of men and boys. They play a critical role in terms of improved health outcomes, fighting gender-based violence and promoting the elimination of harmful stereotypes and practices. Young men and boys are targeted through programmes that focus on youth and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, such as the French Muskoka Fund, implemented in eight West and Central African countries.

Example of a French flagship programme aimed at improving women’s economic empowerment

AFD and TSKB’s project for female-friendly companies in Turkey

In 2017, AFD and the Turkish Development Bank (TSKB) launched a programme to foster women’s economic empowerment, with the aim of improving occupational health and safety conditions, and promoting women’s employment in Turkey.

Thanks to a €100,000,000 loan from AFD, TSKB will dedicate a credit line to fund Turkish companies’ investments in these areas to encourage female-friendly companies.

TSKB will raise companies’ awareness of issues concerning women’s employment and professional equality by giving them training and tools on topics such as equal treatment in labour relations and salaries, specific economic rights such as maternity leave and gender-based violence.


Gender Equality – a key priority for German Development Cooperation

Gender equality is a target of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and an explicit goal, a principle and a quality criterion that runs throughout German development cooperation. To this end, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has made a commitment to follow a human rights based approach.

With its 2014 cross-sectoral strategy on Gender Equality in German Development Policy, BMZ established a three-pronged-approached to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment consisting of gender mainstreaming, empowerment and policy dialogue.

The Development Policy Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016- 2020 (GAP II) lays down concrete steps for implementing the binding gender equality strategy and the three-pronged approach. Annual road maps implement GAP II. Thematic areas and strategic goals are selected each year and measures for implementation are presented. Women’s economic empowerment is a key goal in the Gender Action Plan and thus a priority for German Development Cooperation.

Germany is also committed to promote gender equality domestically, and passed several new legislative and non-legislative initiatives to promote women’s economic empowerment. In 2015, the Act on the Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Private and the Public Sector came into effect. In July 2017, a new Act to Promote Transparency in wage structures went into force. Further, Germany amended its Parental Allowance and Parental Leave legislation, to promote partnership and improve the reconciliation of family and work. Finally, woman empowerment is also measured within the German Sustainable Development Strategy.

The following domestic and international initiatives can serve as best practice examples:

Economic Integration of Women in the MENA region (EconoWin)

“When women work, economies win”. Since 2010, the GIZ EconoWin programme, has successfully improved the conditions for the economic participation of women in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. Private sector, civil society and governmental partners have thrived jointly in promoting the active participation of all men AND women.

The project worked in four areas: 1) addressing societal and cultural stereotypes within the area of ‘women and work’ through an initiative 2) promoting female talent through female mentoring, professional orientation and career guidance, 3) professionalizing the management of gender diversity in the private sector and 4) integrating women from rural areas into the labour market and upscaling their products.

The project has produced tremendous results. 6,000 participants were reached through 325 film events on the subject women and work; 150 sector representatives publicly discussed the implementation of supportive labour laws for women and families at roundtable talks; and 30 regional business advisors and 25 business associations were introduced to the concept of gender diversity management.

CAADP: Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) for Women in Africa

The project aims to ensure that labour market-oriented, income-boosting training opportunities for women in the agri-food sector are taken up in the TVET systems in the selected pilot countries Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo.

The training improves women’s access to formal and informal education in the agri-food sector and gives them the skills to earn a living through employment or self-employment. In the six partner countries the project targets women in formal vocational training, female smallholders who lack access to training and women who run small or micro businesses. The approach takes women’s diverse needs and social roles into account. As a priority, it therefore offers access to informal and flexible training options, such as evening and weekend courses. Furthermore, mentoring programmes are offered and teaching methods that are suited to women with little experience of attending school are promoted.

Strong in the work place – Migrant mothers get on board

With the ESF-programme "Strong in the work place – Migrant mothers get on board" the German government aims to enable mothers with a migrant background to sustainably secure their livelihoods. Women receive individual support on their path towards employment, and access to existing labour market integration services is improved. Since February 2015, around 80 project locations throughout Germany have been funded. The projects pursue both target-group-specific and structure-related approaches. In addition to targeted awareness-raising measures aimed at activating these women, the aim is also to raise business awareness of the potential of mothers with a migration background.


The Italian Development Cooperation (IDC) has always placed gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) at the core of its policies and actions. Italy promoted GEWE by adopting a multidimensional and holistic approach: not only recognizing it as a fundamental condition to fulfill women’s human rights, but also unleashing women’s agency through transformative strategies for poverty eradication.

Women's social and economic empowerment, in fact, is key to women's ability to enjoy all other human rights, while recognizing the deep connection of the economic dimension to other sectoral dimensions.

Italy advocated for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to be a stand-alone goal on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG5), as well as a transversal component of the Agenda, and aligns its development actions with relevant International Bodies’ recommendations (i.e. UN, EU, G7 and G20).

Dedicated guidelines of the Italian Development Cooperation were adopted to translate into practice the promotion of the full participation of women in the socio-economic-development processes of partner countries. This is also reflected in the three-Year Programming and Policies Planning Document (PPPD) 2016–2018 and 2017–2019 of the IDC. The review of the IDC guidelines on gender equality and women’s empowerment is on-going and it will strengthen the methodology for the gender mainstreaming and its application in all the IDC activities, in line with the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals.

The Italian Strategy is based on a twin-track approach pursued over many years, while respecting national sectoral plans and policies of partner countries:

  1. The gender mainstreaming approach to be applied in all development activities;
  2. The implementation of dedicated project initiatives in favour of girls and women.

This IDC action follows a multidimensional and intersectoral focus where the complexity of women’s life and all discriminations, barriers and obstacles affecting their empowerment process are fully recognized and addressed. Furthermore, most IDC initiatives include the improvement of sex-disaggregated data collection systems and the implementation of gender budgeting. This ensures that women’s multidimensional well-being and the contribution of their unpaid work to the macroeconomic policy are taken into account in policy-making process at both local and national levels.

Italy also works with international organizations and recently new multilateral initiatives have been undertaken with UN Women, UNFPA, CIHEAM-IAMB, IOM, UNIDO and FAO.

IDC’s gender work in Senegal and Ethiopia, as well as the humanitarian initiative for Syrian women, are three relevant examples of this approach.

The bilateral Integrated Programme of Economic and Social Development in Senegal contributes to addressing the needs of women and vulnerable groups, in partnership with the Ministry of Gender Affairs, local institutions and civil-society organizations, while pursuing SDG 5 targets. By identifying women’s economic and social potential, and their needs, as well as gender barriers and discrimination, the initiative promotes women’s economic empowerment and agency through three components: 1. Promotion of access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial specific services, property and other productive assets, skills development and market information; 2. Implementation of the Senegalese Gender-Based Violence strategy (prevention, support for survivors and their families, and promotion of responsive legal and justice systems); 3. Strengthen women’s participation and voice in the political decision-making process, including supporting women’s negotiating capacities, strengthening women’s entrepreneurial networks, promoting gender-sensitive budgeting and creating two Local Economic Development Agencies for women’s empowerment.

Women Economic Empowerment and Social Integration Project in Ethiopia. This bilateral pilot initiative aims at the integrated empowerment of socially and economically vulnerable women (women inmates, victims of trafficking, schoolgirls who reject harmful traditional practices) and promotes gender mainstreaming at the governmental level. It fosters the protection of the rights of women and girls at the community level, including through awareness-raising actions, while increasing the reporting on harmful practices and facilitating greater acceptance of women as entrepreneurs and leaders. Three pillars articulate this project: 1. Research and Gender Analysis focused on the women/girls’ voice approach to enhance their participation in the definition of gender-sensitive initiatives; 2. Capacity and knowledge building at institutional and community levels on gender roles and women’s rights to promote attitude change; 3. Economic empowerment to promote entrepreneurial skills, self-esteem and micro enterprises.

The new multi-bilateral initiative Assistance To and Empowerment of Syrian Refugee Women and girls and vulnerable women and girls of Host Communities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon is part of the IDC’s response to the Syrian crisis, with the main goal of improving the living conditions of Syrian refugee women and girls, while also providing them with opportunities to acquire the skills and expertise needed to rebuild their lives after returning to Syria. The economic-empowerment component is combined with reproductive and sexual health, and GBV response components. The participation of Syrian refugee women in peace negotiations and future reconstruction of this country is also promoted.

Italy has also actively advanced gender equality and women’s empowerment at the domestic level. Legal reforms and dedicated assistance frameworks are in place, including the promotion of social and economic integration of migrant women and girls. The Department of Equal Opportunities of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers has launched – pursuant the first National Action Plan against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings (2016) – two annual calls for proposal to fund assistance projects for victims of human trafficking, including women and girls (for a total of €37 million in the biennium). Furthermore, the protection and empowerment of migrant women and girls are also considered by the National Strategic Plan on Male Violence against Women 2017–2020.


Creating a society where all women can shine has been one of Japan’s priority issues and various policies have been implemented toward achieving this goal. Under Prime Minister Abe’s initiative, Japan has strongly promoted international cooperation for gender equality and women’s empowerment with the belief that creating "a society where women shine" will bring vigour to the world.

In May 2016, Japan launched the Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment as one of its thematic policies under the Development Cooperation Charter. The Strategy focuses on 1) promoting women’s and girl’s rights, 2) improving an enabling environment for women and girls to reach their full potential, and 3) advancing women’s leadership in politics, the economy and other public fields. On the occasion of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit (May 2016), Japan announced its plan to train approximately 5,000 female administrative officers and assist the education of approximately 50,000 female students over the three-year period of 2016–18.

Moreover, at the World Assembly for Women: WAW! 2016 (December 2016) that Japan has hosted since 2014 to create “a society where women shine” both in Japan and beyond, inviting top leaders from around the globe, Prime Minister Abe announced more than US$3 billion in total assistance for women in developing countries by 2018. These initiatives are steadily being implemented.

As part of these initiatives, Japan has implemented various projects to promote women’s economic empowerment, such as the African women's business-development seminar, capacity building and policy dialogue on catalyzing women entrepreneurship in Malaysia, capacity development of women’s union in support of gender-sensitive inclusive finance in Vietnam, and smallholder horticulture empowerment and promotion in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Palestine and Egypt.

Japan also supports women entrepreneurs in developing countries through its contribution to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) launched at G20 Hamburg summit in 2017.

Japan is one of the top donor countries to UN Women and contributed around US$22 million to UN Women projects in Africa and the Middle East regions in 2017. Especially, Japan supports the “Women’s Leadership, Empowerment, Access & Protection in Crisis Response (LEAP)” programme. LEAP provides a comprehensive response to the urgent needs of women in crisis situations, including protection from sexual violence and promotion of women’s participation. Japan, as a champion of LEAP, co-hosted the high-level LEAP roundtable with UN Women in New York City in March, 2018. Prime Minister Abe is selected as one of the 10 Heads of State in the UN Women “HeForShe Campaign” for encouraging the engagement of men and boys in the promotion of gender equality.

Japan is also one of the leading contributors to the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) against Sexual Violence in Conflict and supports a number of projects to enhance response capabilities against sexual violence in such countries as Somalia, Congo Republic and Iraq. Japan formulated its “National Action Plan” on the UNSCR 1325 in September 2015 and has steadily implemented it.

Also, Japan has supported initiatives in sexual and reproductive health and rights for approximately 50 years through contributions to UNFPA and IPPF to empower women and girls all over the world. These initiatives include the provision of sexual and reproductive-health services, prenatal checkups, emergency obstetric care and Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP), as well as outreach activities through mobile clinics. Health is the basis for women’s and girls’ economic and political empowerment. Japan promotes universal health coverage (UHC) to enable women and girls to better protect their physical and mental health by accessing essential services. In December 2017, Japan co-hosted UHC Forum 2017 with World Bank, WHO, UNICEF, UHC 2030 and JICA to actively discuss the promotion of UHC internationally. More than 600 people attended the Forum in Tokyo.

Japan is also committed to make every effort both domestically and internationally to achieve the SDGs, and considers gender equality vital to achieving these goals. In May 2016, Japan established the “SDGs Promotion Headquarters” that is led by Prime Minister Abe and consists of all Ministers. The Headquarters formulated the “SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles” in December 2016, along with the “SDGs Action Plan 2018” in December 2017, which includes “empowerment of next generations and women” as one of its three pillars.

United Kingdom

Women’s economic empowerment is central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and as such, is a key component of the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) approaches to both economic development and gender equality.

DFID’s Economic Development Strategy (launched in early 2017) seeks to transform economies and ensure that growth delivers for everyone. Long-term change will come from more-productive jobs with higher pay and better working conditions. This means moving into higher- productivity sectors such as manufacturing and boosting productivity within existing sectors such as agriculture. Trade, increased investment and private-sector growth, will all be critical to creating more and better jobs. Barriers need to come down so that opportunities are more fairly distributed and no one is left behind.

The strategy commits to ensuring that: all economic-development work addresses gender discrimination, with a focus on better jobs in high-growth sectors; increasing returns from, and improving conditions in, the sectors where women already work; and removing gender-specific barriers to opportunities, including access to assets, time poverty, and discriminatory laws and norms.

DFID’s Strategic Vision for Gender Equality (launched in 2018) commits to continued leadership and to investment in the four foundations where DFID has a track record, building on results achieved to date and taking them to scale:

  1. Ending all forms of violence against women and girls
  2. Universal sexual and reproductive health and rights
  3. Girls’ education
  4. Women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth

DFID will also use its expertise and networks to step up leadership on a fifth foundation – women’s political empowerment – which, delivered together with the above four, will transform the lives of girls and women.

DFID will support girls and women to be economically empowered through better access to, and choice over, jobs in high-growth sectors with improved working conditions; and better access to digital, financial, land and property assets. The UK will address the gender-specific barriers to both, including the laws and social norms that adversely affect women, e.g. the unequal burden of unpaid care work, harassment, violence and discrimination. This approach builds on the conclusions of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016 and 2017), which the UK Government was proud to support.

Examples of DFID’s innovative approach to the economic empowerment of women and girls are set out below:

Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW): Will work with global and British business to provide 300,000 women with improved access to better jobs in supply chains in agriculture, manufacturing or other global sectors.

SPRING – Assets to Adolescent Girls Programme: (A joint programme with USAID and DFAT). A business accelerator supporting businesses to reach adolescent girls with products and services to help girls learn, earn, save and stay safe.

Ethiopia Land Investment for Transformation: Support to the Government of Ethiopia in the provision of map-based land certificates to farmers in four regions. The project aims to secure land ownership for 6.1 million households and to implement a second-level land certification process to register 14 million parcels of rural land, with 70 percent of holders being women, either jointly or individually.

DFID will continue to equip its staff and delivery partners with the skills, tools and knowledge to better integrate gender equality into policies and programmes, and to join up across sectors to take a gender-equality portfolio approach. This will include embedding gender equality more fully into business systems to ensure more-effective delivery, tracking of expenditures and results, and greater accountability to the women and girls whose lives we are seeking to change, and to the UK taxpayer, for delivery on the ground.

United States of America

The United States is resolute in its commitment to promote women’s economic empowerment as a fundamental component of U.S. foreign policy. As stated in President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy, “Societies that empower women to participate fully in civic and economic life are more prosperous and peaceful.” 

When women are empowered economically, they invest back into their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that spurs economic growth and creates more peaceful societies.  Accelerating women’s economic empowerment around the world is also integral to supporting developing countries to achieve economic self-reliance and enabling women to realize their own economic aspirations.

In practice, the United States recognizes that women’s economic empowerment requires simultaneously addressing complex constraints, challenges and opportunities.  This requires a multi-pronged approach to address the many facets of this problem.  In broad terms, the United States works to:

The United States implements its National Security Strategy through programs that enable women and girls to obtain the skills, means, and opportunities to realize their economic potential.  These efforts follow three, inter-linked, reinforcing pillars: workforce-development and skills-training; entrepreneurship and access to capital; and improvements in the enabling environment, including laws, regulations, policies, and social and cultural norms. 

Workforce development and skills-training for women and girls help pave the way for economic empowerment.  Improving women’s and girls’ access to quality education and training, including training opportunities closely linked with employer needs, can lead to higher-paying jobs, including in high-growth, in-demand occupations, such as those in the STEM fields.  Moreover, the United States is working to close the gender digital divide through programs such as WomenConnect, an effort to enable women’s equal access to digital services that provide tools for entrepreneurship, access to education and life-enhancing information.

Women entrepreneurs are an emerging market force, and serve as an important source of innovation and job creation.  The United States will continue to support women who want to start and scale their businesses, to create prosperity and stability for their families, communities, and countries.  For this reason, the United States co-hosted with India the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit to focus specifically on women’s entrepreneurship.

Women’s equal access to the capital and networks to fund and expand their businesses is fundamental to the success of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Through activities like the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, the United States is mobilizing financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in women-owned businesses in emerging markets. Through its development finance activities, the United States also supports businesses owned and run by women, as well as businesses that enhance women’s economic participation and access through their policies and practices, as well as their products and services.

Changes to discriminatory laws, policies and norms are important drivers of women’s economic empowerment.  The United States assists development partners to identify and reduce the policy, legal, and regulatory barriers to women’s participation in the economy and promote women’s economic empowerment.

European Union

The EU has a strong internal and external policy related to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Internally, the Commission adopted legislative proposals for improving work-life balance for working parents and caregivers; an Action Plan to close the gender pay gap; and a quota of 40% for the under- represented sex on companies’ executive boards. In the meantime, the Commission is leading by example, aiming at reaching the same target by the end of its current mandate (2019). In 2017, women were the 37% of the middle and senior managers.

The European Consensus on Development places gender equality at the core of the EU’s values, and identifies women as agents of development and change. With the Consensus, the EU and its Member States committed to promote women's and girl’s economic and social rights, as well as their empowerment. In the EU Global Strategy, gender equality and women's empowerment are indicated as cross- cutting priories for all polices. And finally, the II EU Gender Action Plan (2016–2020) - GAP II identifies Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE) as a central pillar of the EU's strategy to close the gender gap and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In particular, the so-called GAP II sets specific objectives and targets to be reached by 2020. One objective is to mainstream gender actions across 85% of all new initiatives. The target is not reached yet, but progress is undeniable: an average of about 65% of all initiatives adopted in 2017 mainly or significantly aim to promote gender equality and/or women’s empowerment, compared with averages of 47.3% in 2015 and 58.8% in 2016.

Gender analysis became mandatory for informing the design of all new initiatives and clear top-level support is ensured for implementation of GAP II.

Finally, many initiatives are taken to keep women’s rights at the top of the international agenda. The most recent one is the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, which steers a significant amount of funds toward combating violence against women and girls. Backed by their initial contribution of 500 million euros, Spotlight will focus on particular forms of VAWG that are prevalent or prominently emerge in specific regions, such as femicide in Latin America; trafficking in human beings and sexual and economic (forced labour) exploitation in Asia; sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices in Africa; specific forms of domestic violence in the Pacific and the Caribbean regions. The Spotlight Initiative will work closely with civil society, UN agencies and governments to provide comprehensive, high-quality interventions that can save women and girls’ lives.  Our ambition is to see this initiative being transformational for the lives of women and girls worldwide, in particular for young people and those living in the most marginalised and vulnerable situations. A special focus will be put on reaching women and girls that are most at risk of violence and whom traditional programmes do not reach leaving no one behind.

Regarding WEE, the EU supports several programmes and projects at the regional and national levels:

The EU is supporting multi-stakeholders dialogue and private-sector engagement for women's economic empowerment through responsible business conducts with two projects during 2018–2021: one targets G7 countries and one targets Latin American countries.

Moreover, the EU Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016–2019 focuses on priorities including: increasing female labour-market participation and equal economic independence; reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps; and promoting equality between women and men in decision-making.

The EU enshrines the issue of women’s economic empowerment in its process of economic-policy coordination among Member States. The 2018 Annual Growth Survey further called for more measures to foster work-life balance, noting that they are crucial to gender equality and to increased female labour-market participation.

The EU also supports projects strengthening gender equality and rewards inspiring initiatives that could be replicated across Europe. For instance, through the EU Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, the EU helps to finance projects to incentivize the equal economic independence of women and men.

Recent policy initiatives to strengthen women’s economic independence and empowerment:

2.2 Funding for Women’s Economic Empowerment

This section presents official development assistance (ODA) disbursements by G7 countries and the European Union (EU) in their efforts to implement the 2015 Elmau commitment to “support our partners in developing countries and within our own countries to overcome discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women and girls and other cultural, social, economic and legal barriers to women’s economic participation.” To track progress against this commitment, the Accountability Working Group has identified two indicators: the first indicator measures G7 and EU support that directly enables women’s economic participation; and, the second indicator focuses on the elimination of violence against women.

To measure economic support to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses the Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) gender equality policy marker. It is a qualitative statistical tool used to record aid activities that target gender equality as a principal or significant objective in economic and productive sectors and in enabling sectors such as education and training.Footnote iii

In 2015 and 2016, G7 members and the EU dedicated 28%, of their total ODA disbursements towards projects or programmes with a strong commitment towards women’s economic empowerment. Please refer to Table 1.

The second indicator focuses on support for women and girls to overcome violence.Footnote iv In 2015 and 2016, combined, G7 members and the EU dedicated over US$ 529 million towards mitigating violence against women. Please refer to Table 2.

The table below shows each donor's ODA gross disbursements in US$ millions, dedicated to economic-growth-related initiatives focused on achieving gender equality and women's empowerment as a percentage of total ODA screened. ODA screened represents the percentage of each donor’s funds that are focussed on women and girls. This is measured by drawing on OECD-DAC data to determine the proportion of gender-targeted ODA spent on economic and productive sectors. The economic and productive sectors assessed align with those used by the OECD-DAC Network on Gender Equality in its reporting (see Data Source). Sectors that support and enable women’s economic empowerment, such as those related to education and training, are also included.

Table 1a: Aid in support of women's economic empowerment, 2015 (Indicator 1)
DonorPrincipal*Significant**Screened, not targeted***
* Principal means that gender equality is the main objective of the project/programme and is fundamental to its design and expected results. The project/programme would not have been undertaken without this objective.
** Significant means that gender equality is an important and deliberate objective, but not the principal reason for undertaking the project/programme.
*** Total screened is the total of projects/programmes screened against the gender equality policy marker and marked as not targeted.
United Kingdom93.29900.731,355.75
United States162.12881.841,991.68
EU Institutions35.62694.922,128.83
Total (in US$ millions)329.015,942.5815,999.85
Table 1b: Aid in support of women's economic empowerment, 2016 (Indicator 1)
DonorPrincipal*Significant**Screened, not targeted***
* Principal means that gender equality is the main objective of the project/programme and is fundamental to its design and expected results. The project/programme would not have been undertaken without this objective.
** Significant means that gender equality is an important and deliberate objective, but not the principal reason for undertaking the project/programme.
*** Total screened is the total of projects/programmes screened against the gender equality policy marker and marked as not targeted.
v Between 2015 and 2016 there was a slight change in EU’s methodology to report all the markers of the EIB (extending agency 3) transactions to OECD. In 2015 the gender marker of EIB transactions was reported empty, meaning not screened, and in 2016 the gender marker of EIB transactions was reported with the value '0', meaning not targeted.
United Kingdom61.241,192.991,172.57
United States412.05989.621,579.22
EU Institutions56.33v1,249.567,373.13
Total (in US$ millions)577.387,464.7520,344.71

Data source: OECD DAC-CRS Aid Activities Database

Transport and storage (purpose code 210), Communications (purpose code 220), Energy generation, distribution and efficiency (purpose code 230), Energy generation, distribution and efficiency – general (purpose code 231), Energy generation, renewable sources (purpose code 232), Energy generation , non-renewable sources (purpose code 233), Hybrid energy electric power plants (purpose code 234), Nuclear energy electric power plants (purpose code 235), Heating, cooling and energy distribution (purpose code 236), Banking and financial services (purpose code 240), Business and other services (purpose code 250), Agriculture (purpose code 311), Forestry (purpose code 312), Fishing (purpose code 313), Industry (purpose code 321), Mineral resources and mining (purpose code 322), Construction (purpose code 323), Trade policy and regulations and trade-related adjustment (purpose code 331), Tourism (purpose code 332), Urban development and management (purpose code 43030), Rural development (purpose code 43040), Secondary education (purpose code 113), Post-secondary education (purpose code 114), Medical education/training (purpose code 12181), Health personnel development (purpose code 12281), Education and training in water supply and sanitation (purpose code 14081), Environmental education/training (purpose code 41081), and Multisector education/training (purpose code 43081).

Table 2: Aid focused on the elimination of violence against women, 2015-2016 (Indicator 2)
vi According to the Law n. 125 as of 11.8.2014, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation was established January 1st, 2016. During that year, delivery capacity of programmatic activities was delayed due to new operational arrangements and mechanisms required by the law that had to be put in place.
vii For self-reporting (2015 data and a part of 2016 data), Japan relied on ODA total disbursements of the projects sorted from the list of cases reported in the implementation status report in the Annual Report on the National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security.
viii Total only includes principle VAWG programmes. The UK also has over 100 significant programmes contributing to VAWG outcomes.
Italyvi15. 805.93
United Kingdomviii44.6362.61
United States98.4108.7
EU Institutions20.0217.21
Total (in US$ millions)250.4279.06

To establish the baseline figures for indicator 2, G7 members used the following methodological approaches:

  1. Self-reporting for projects addressing violence against women for 2015 and 2016; and,
  2. A combination of self-reporting and the Creditor Reporting System (CRS) purpose code 15180 - Violence against women as reported to the OECD-DAC for 2016.

Chapter 3 - Making Strides in Women’s Economic Empowerment: G7 Initiatives


  • Making strides in women’s economic empowerment requires a multidimensional lifecycle approach that addresses constraints and fosters an enabling environment where women can succeed.
  • Investing in women’s and girls’ health, education, skills development, employment and entrepreneurship help women realize their full potential. It is also an investment in sustainable, inclusive economic growth and the well-being of families and communities worldwide.
  • Improving access to economic and productive sectors and overcoming cultural, social and legal barriers are essential to strengthening women’s economic participation.
  • Advancing women’s agency increases their ability to assert their needs, aspirations and economic independence, and empowers them to participate in decision-making and influence the policies and programs that affect their lives.

G7 members have undertaken initiatives in seven action areas that are critical for strengthening women’s economic empowerment. These areas demonstrate measures adopted to improve women’s access to critical productive resources and opportunities, while overcoming key barriers to their full and equal participation in the economy. Focus is given to women’s voice and leadership because women’s political participation is linked to broader economic empowerment outcomes.

3.1 - Improving Access to Economic and Productive Sectors for Women’s Economic Empowerment

a. Inclusive Markets, Trade and Entrepreneurship

There is evidence that increasing women’s access to inclusive markets and global supply-chains yields important benefits in terms of women’s economic empowerment. Women’s labour-force participation and entrepreneurship, and their ability to sustain and grow businesses, lead to faster rates of economic growth and substantive equality for women. To enhance trade and entrepreneurship opportunities for women, it is necessary to prioritize women’s access to financial and business development services.

Women are less likely than men to own formal enterprises; only 30-37% of small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets are owned by women.Footnote 13 Studies reveal that women face a nearly US$300 billion credit gap when it comes to accessing financing, which stymies their ability to start or scale-up business ventures. Women entrepreneurs are also disproportionately represented in low-productivity, growth-limited sectors, which curtails their ability to expand their operations and personal incomes. For example, only 14-19% of International Financial Corporation loans are issued to women-owned small and medium enterprises, even though evidence shows that these enterprises perform just as well as those owned by men.Footnote 14 Furthermore, a study from across 20 countries (in five regions of the world) found that women’s businesses were less likely to be engaged in international trade than those businesses owned by men.Footnote 15

The G7 recognizes that gender gaps across sectors and industries leads to economic losses. It has therefore prioritized advancing trade by committing to align aid for trade with the needs of developing- country partners, and by providing technical assistance and capacity building that facilitates trade. This link between women’s economic empowerment and improved trade opportunities has been recognized in the Addis Ababa Agenda of ActionFootnote 16 and in the 2030 Agenda.Footnote 17 The G7 Leaders’ Declaration at the 2016 Ise-Shima Summit also committed to working with relevant stakeholders to promote quality infrastructure investments, responsible supply chains, and greater transparency in these and other efforts.Footnote 18 These commitments contribute to the G7’s work to enhance the economic participation of women.

Supporting women entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses

Worldwide, fewer women than men own enterprises: only 30% of formal small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) around the world are owned and run by women. In developing countries, women often face legal, social and financial barriers to start or grow a business. 70% of formal women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out of financial institutions or can’t get the capital they need.

Germany is highly committed to the economic empowerment of women. Therefore, Germany and the US jointly initiated the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), which was endorsed by G20 at the Hamburg Summit in 2017. The Fund is anchored at the World Bank and supports women entrepreneurs worldwide in starting and growing their businesses.

The 14 founding donors committed more than US$340 million to the We-Fi. Five are G7 members (Germany, US, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom) and have pledged more than half of the total amount. The goal of the initiative is to leverage this amount and mobilize more than US$1 billion in additional financing from international financial institutions and commercial financing.

We-Fi works to overcome financial and non-financial barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. Measures include capacity building, access to networks and mentors, and improving the business environment for women-owned and women-led SMEs. A particular focus is on women entrepreneurs in conflict-affected and/or fragile states: We-Fi’s goal is to provide 50% of all funds to IDA countries.

European Union

In international trade, the EU actively supported adoption of the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment in the margins of the last WTO ministerial conference. The Declaration gathered support from 118 WTO members and observers, including many developing countries and even LDCs. It is a true starting point for informed decisions ensuring that trade benefits reach all. Furthermore, the EU's recently reviewed Aid for Trade Strategy recognizes that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but is also crucial to economic development. The Strategy also introduces the requirement of a systematic gender analysis for all of the aid-for-trade projects.

Eswatini Kitchen is a fair-trade producer of natural gourmet food (spicy sauces, jams, honey and more) on the outskirts of Manzini, the business capital of Swaziland. It was established in 1991 with the goal of employing disadvantaged women and providing markets for small local farmers and rural families who harvest wild fruit. This food factory is one of 49 agri-businesses to receive grants under the €1 million Marketing Investment Fund (MIF). The Fund is part of Swaziland Agricultural Development Project (SADP), a five-year program set up in 2009 by the Government of Swaziland with assistance from the European Union (EU), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). With its new marketing- and trade-oriented approach, Eswatini Kitchen received a grant from the MIF to purchase a food processor and two blenders, leading to increased production and greater competitiveness. This grant has been awarded by the EU under the condition of using the products of smallholder farmers in order to help them to move from subsistence to commercial farming.

Nowadays, Eswatini Kitchen exports its sauces and jams to 15 international destinations including Europe, USA, Australia and Japan, through fair-trade networks. Their products benefit from free access to the EU market through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). From a small cottage industry of five women working in a one-room kitchen and covering every part of the production process, Eswatini Kitchen became a prosperous company of 50 employees; 90% of staff are women and 45% of them are single mothers. Thanks to a fair and sustainable income, the living conditions of workers and their families (over 300 persons) improved substantially.

United States of America

Entrepreneurs play a vital role in driving economic growth, creating jobs, and innovating to improve people's lives through market-based solutions. The United States has a long track record of promoting women’s entrepreneurship through a range of development initiatives that help women to gain access to markets, business networks and finance.

Under the Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported innovative interventions to reduce barriers to entry and growth for thousands of women business-owners in India, Peru, and Kyrgyzstan. Interventions tested capacity strengthening, relationship facilitation and social capital, the promotion of positive attitudes towards female entrepreneurs, individual mentorship, and peer working groups. WLSME also conducted rigorous impact evaluations to measure the effectiveness of different approaches.  The most significant finding was the need to address intra-household negotiations, even for women who are running high-growth businesses as their success does not necessarily mean greater agency at home. USAID is now incorporating the findings from WLSME into the design of new programs, such as the Volunteers for International Security and Prosperity grant facility, which will provide funding for organizations that are promoting women entrepreneurs in line with the WLSME findings.

The United States is also addressing the “pioneer gap” in equity investments for women-led businesses. These small-and-medium-enterprises have unmet financial needs of between $260 billion and $320 billion per year, their biggest barrier to growth. The Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative is working directly with the private sector to catalyze investment into early-stage enterprises. The PACE program has already partnered with over 40 private sector enterprises. New partnerships for women’s economic empowerment will leverage both public and private funds for women entrepreneurs.

The 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in Hyderabad, India celebrated the theme “Women First, Prosperity for All,” and gathered entrepreneurs from 150 countries. Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump led the U.S. delegation to the summit. More than 50 percent of the 1,500 attendees were women, the first time in GES history.

b. Education, Skills Development, and Employment

Quality and relevant education and training are important to women’s economic empowerment, to the development of employable skills, and strengthening adaptability to changing labour markets. Investing in literacy programs and at least 12 years of basic education and lifelong skills are foundational to this endeavour. Demand-driven training, employment skills – including entrepreneurial skills – and training for future work are particularly relevant to women’s sustainable economic success.

Women comprise approximately two-thirds of the world’s 750 million illiterate adults,Footnote 19 which creates a major barrier to their participation in the formal economy. Furthermore, gains in gender parity in primary education access and completion are not reflected at the secondary level, where girls around the world are often less likely than their male peers to transition to or complete secondary education. In countries affected by conflict, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys.Footnote 20 Advancing girls’ access to quality education and ensuring parity of access to quality education in both peace and conflict settings begins with pre-primary education and continues throughout the schooling and training path. Literacy for women and girls opens doors to further their education and skills development for employment or entrepreneurship.

Educating women also empowers them to play a greater economic role in their families and communities. Investing in civic education is a crucial step towards dismantling the barriers to women’s economic participation. By expanding women’s knowledge of the justice system including their rights and safeguards, women are empowered to be their own advocates. By improving women’s understanding of options for health care and information about improved nutrition and dietary diversity, women are empowered to improve their own health outcomes.

In higher education, women remain under-represented in the majority of developing countries, and are less likely than men to enrol in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs.Footnote 21 Without access to quality education, TVET programs and skills training linked to the labour market, women and girls lack the knowledge, information and skills they need to reach their full potential and to find decent quality work. Entrepreneurial skills, a key competence, are best developed through education. Appropriate resource training should be accessible at any age through specific courses and not limited to the education cycle in schools. Even educated and skilled women often still lack opportunities to participate in the formal economy due to unpaid domestic responsibilities and many even face limitations on informal household-enterprise due to social attitudes.

The G7 is committed to promoting policies that eliminate gender disparities and reduce gender stereotypes and biases in education at all levels.Footnote 22

The G7 has committed to increasing the numbers of women and girls who receive technical and vocational education and training in developing countries.Footnote 23 The 2015 G7 Leaders’ Summit in Elmau identified principles of women’s entrepreneurship, including countering gender stereotypes and developing specific measures for girls to enrol in, and complete, STEM-related education.Footnote 24

G7 commitments to improve working conditions and ongoing training will facilitate additional opportunities to promote the employment of women in high-skilled and higher-paying sectors, to ensure better prospects for women’s career advancement and to address women’s disproportionate representation in the informal sector.

An outcome of the G7 was to  further commit to girls education in fragile contexts with a view to improve education opportunities and learning outcomes for local girls and women who are refugees and/or are internally-displaced, both inside and outside camps.Footnote 25

Vocational training program for recruitment and competitiveness in Senegal

In partnership with the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD) supports Senegal’s reform of vocational training devices through the vocational training program for recruitment and competitiveness in Senegal, a four-year project (2015–2019, €55.85 million, including €12 million from AFD), aimed at:

  1. improving the provision of quality vocational training;
  2. reforming funding schemes for vocational training; and,
  3. reinforcing the management of vocational training.

More concretely, the program encourages the networking of schools, the development of short training modules, and innovation to reduce the gap between training contents and companies’ expectations. Boosting investments is facilitated by the implementation of a special fund for schools, companies and students. Finally, the program helps the Ministry of Vocational Training, Learning and Craft skills (MVTLC) to improve its management and evaluation skills.

A particular consideration is given to women’s access to vocational training. In Senegal, according to MVTLC statistics, women represent 51% of those enrolled in vocational and technical training, but they are over-represented in short training programs, and in vulnerable sectors such as hairdressing, catering and sewing (95%). The program provides particular support to the MVTLC gender unit to eliminate gender stereotypes in the working world and help women to successfully integrate into sectors in which they are currently under-represented (farm machinery, ports and logistics, electricity). The program has already shown its effectiveness: the attendance of youth in technical training has increased by 2.3 percentage points and the 46% of all women trained have found jobs or become self-employed.

European Union

Opportunities offered by vocational training in the labour market are an important means for women to achieve greater equality with men; the more skilled the female workforce is, the wider women’s choices will be in labour markets, and the more likely they are to secure equal treatment. A gender-sensitive Vocational Education and Training system should move beyond the employment-only focus to include elements of empowerment and self-confidence building, in line with the lifecycle approach. It should present different role models, widen women’s and girls’ self-perceptions of their occupational abilities, and include non-formal skills development to support the development of women’s cooperatives and employment in informal MSMEs.

In Malawi, the EU-funded STEP programme (financed under European Development Fund) promotes equitable and gender-based access and retention in Vocational Training programmes by developing new guidance and counselling programmes which especially target female students to increase awareness of options. The objective is to have more females in the male-dominated programmes and in Vocational Training. Support groups that can provide extra attention to issues that are crucial to keeping girls in training have been set up. In informal training, special attention is paid to attracting female students to all types of Vocational Training programmes.


Canada is supporting the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to strengthen and develop the knowledge-based economies of African countries across the Francophonie by building upon an established AIMS Industry Initiative and Co-op Master’s Program to support the integration and engagement of female and male scientists in industry and entrepreneurship. This project strengthens the capacity of AIMS Senegal to deliver skills-for-employment through demand-driven work placements in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors with a focus on integrating women scientists and deepening sustainable linkages with the private sector in Senegal and other Francophonie countries. The Skills for Employability (SFE) program contributes more specifically to women’s economic empowerment in Africa in the following ways:

  1. Supporting the success of local women-owned businesses - The project contributes to women’s economic empowerment by securing co-op placements for AIMS students in local women-owned businesses needing additional support to ensure their sustainability and growth. The goal is to enable AIMS students to use their applied mathematical skills to help solve business challenges and increase savings and efficiencies for women-led businesses. Additionally, where there is interest, AIMS will facilitate access to online courses on employability and business skills for interested women-led business owners and their staff.
  2. Increasing the participation of women in STEM in higher education - AIMS recruits women to join the co-op program to ensure higher rates of successful transition to employment. In addition, women students receive employment-readiness training through onsite learning (Post-AIMS Business Certificate, PABC) and also online learning (Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCS and online modules for PABC).
  3. Promoting gender sensitivity and inclusivity among employers - The SFE program identifies and works with industry partners across Africa to provide co-op opportunities to AIMS students. During onboarding of their industry partners, AIMS promotes training on inclusive and gender-aware workplaces, requiring their partners to ensure that all students, especially female students, are given meaningful work, are treated with respect and professionalism, thus positioning them as more attractive employers. Where there is interest for further support, AIMS works with co-op partners to review their policies and procedures to be more gender aware and inclusive.

c. Increased Access to Financial and Digital Resources

Financial inclusion and access to digital resources can reduce poverty, improve economic resilience and boost inclusive growth and development. Providing women with effective and affordable financial tools – including digital tools – enables them to more effectively save and borrow money, make and receive payments, manage resources, invest in education, start businesses, manage risk and mitigate the impact of financial shocks.Footnote 26 For entrepreneurial activities, improved access to credit enables women to be more productive and to expand their enterprises. Increasing women’s access to and control over resources, empowers them to maintain control of their earnings, avoids the misappropriation of funds by partners for personal benefit, and improves their intra-household bargaining power.Footnote 27 Increased control over finances provides women the autonomy needed to make informed decisions about children’s education and health, as well as improves food security for their families.Footnote 28

Numerous factors inhibit women’s access to finance, including: discriminatory laws; a lack of formal identification documents, collateral and credit history; low financial literacy; lack of support networks; and distance from financial institutions. Globally, many women and girls lack ownership of legally recognized assets, and often do not have access to bank accounts.Footnote 29 Digital technology can circumvent some of the challenges associated with women’s access to traditional banking resources. When combined with business development skills, such as marketing strategies and good-accounting practices, digital financial knowledge can be a particularly powerful tool to grow women-owned businesses. Evidence shows that digital financial services that incorporate education and training, such as loan associations and Saving for Change groups, can increase women’s savings and their ability to repay larger loans.Footnote 30

Increasing digital inclusion can play an important role in advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls. This begins with a needs assessment and the promotion of women as technology users and developers to ensure that digital transformation leads to inclusive growth. Providing incentives for the adoption of digital technology, such as encouraging electronic government-to-person (G2P) payments for taxes and income support payments is another key mechanism to help promote use. However, the benefits of digital inclusion may be undermined by the perpetuation of new forms of violence, abuse and harassment. Sexual and gender-based abuse, harassment and the threat of violence in digital contexts pose risks to the safety and well-being of its targets. They can lead to self-censorship and disengagement from digital spaces at a time when these spaces increasingly animate our everyday life. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by this violence, abuse and harassment. Moreover, risks such as cybersecurity, privacy and data protection must be considered.

Women’s financial inclusion requires the development of an inclusive financial system and a regulatory environment focused on the needs of women and the specific barriers they face.Footnote 31 Women’s economic empowerment is linked to their improved access to the formal financial system, which can, in turn, increase asset ownership among women.Footnote 32 Opportunities remain to ensure the needs of women are more systematically integrated in policy development on financial inclusion. Access to insurance products, a key pillar of financial inclusion, can reduce vulnerabilities from natural disasters, theft or healthcare emergencies, which are often disproportionately borne by women.Footnote 33 Using insurance to manage risk and improve financial resilience is particularly beneficial for women who work in agriculture, where it has been shown to increase average yields, improve food security and reduce income shocks.Footnote 34 For communities where traditional insurance is impractical, micro-insurance programs have proven to be an effective way to extend financial services to those who could otherwise go unserved.

Access to disaster risk insurance can also improve community resilience and women’s economic empowerment in times of natural disasters by providing rapid access to financial resources that can restore livelihoods and rebuild infrastructure. Supporting vulnerable countries’ efforts to manage disaster risk and to build resilience are G7 priorities. These are reflected in the G7 Elmau 2015 commitment to support the development of early warning systems and increase the “number of people in the most vulnerable developing countries who have access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the negative impact of climate change related hazards.”Footnote 35

International financial institutions recognize the importance of enhancing women’s economic participation through increased financial and digital inclusion. It is of utmost importance to augment women’s access to digital financial products and services for strengthening their economic empowerment and growth.Footnote 36

United Kingdom
A BETA Way to Save for Women in Nigeria

Balogun market in Lagos, Nigeria is a thriving hub of commercial activity, drawing shoppers and business people from across West Africa. Women working in the market share many of the same challenges as women working around the world, who juggle household duties alongside running a small business.

Christiena Anya sells canned tomatoes and seasoning products, which Nigerians use to make soup and 'jollof' rice. Six days a week, she travels over two hours to the market and works a taxing 12-hour shift before making the long journey home to look after her children. Finding time to visit a bank is impossible, though she needs a safe place to deposit her money, so that she can grow her business, support her family and build resilience.

To help economically empower women like Christiena, the UK government-funded “Financial Sector Deepening Africa” (FSD Africa) programme has partnered with global non-profit “Women's World Banking” to design innovative financial products and services for over a million individuals across Nigeria and Tanzania.

In Nigeria, the partners work with Diamond Bank to develop the BETA (meaning “good”) program, which incorporates a wide range of financial products and services especially designed for women, including financial education, short and long-term savings accounts, and credit. One product is the BETA savings account. Agents called BETA Friends visit women at their market stalls to conduct transactions and open accounts on a digital platform, which have no minimum balance or fees and send an instant confirmation to clients via their mobile phone. Christiena is therefore able to deposit money every day when her BETA Friend visits, without leaving her market stall unattended, and no longer needs to travel long distances with cash that is vulnerable to theft.

To date, the BETA program has reached nearly 200,000 un(der)banked women in Nigeria, and the broader programme has supported over 500,000 women with access to suitable financial services.

United States of America

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) WomenConnect Challenge is identifying solutions to accelerate efforts to bridge the digital gender divide and empower women and girls to access and use digital technology for their economic, social, and physical well-being.

Technology offers a critical lifeline to information and opportunities, including health care, education, and civic participation. It offers specific opportunities for entrepreneurs, including access to finance and markets. Yet, just as digital technology is accelerating opportunities and impact all across the world, women are being left behind.

Today, 1.7 billion women in low-and middle-income countries still do not own mobile phones, and the gap between how men and women use the Internet has grown steadily over the past three years. This Digital Gender Divide reinforces existing socioeconomic gaps between women and men, including the lack of agency felt by women over their own livelihoods and finances. Even as more adults have obtained access to formal bank accounts since 2011 (largely because of the reach of mobile phones), data from the 2017 Global Findex shows that at a global level, a seven-percent gender gap has persisted without improvement. Elimination of this and other gender-specific gaps would create an 11 percent gain in global Gross Domestic Product by 2025.Footnote 37

Empowering women is at the heart of the United States’ development work. As USAID Administrator Mark Green noted at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, “Our very future depends upon ensuring that women have the tools and the opportunities that they need that give them and us a real chance to thrive.”

WomenConnect will address the Digital Gender Divide.  Launched in March 2018, the program is designed to crowdsource global solutions to change the ways women and girls access and use technology. USAID will test promising pilot approaches, and support their development through technical assistance and financing. The most promising solutions identified in Stage 1 will receive funding in Stage 2 to achieve greater scale.

d. Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources Management

Agriculture is an important engine of growth and poverty reduction, and women make essential contributions as they use and manage land and other natural resources, while meeting food, water and energy needs for their households and communities. However, inequality often results from women’s limited access to land rights, productive resources and markets; the disproportionate burden of unpaid work; and, marginalization in agricultural decision making processes.Footnote 38 While women perform much of the productive work on the land, their contribution remains largely unrecognized and in 39% of developing countries, women are more likely than men to be food insecure.

Compounding these challenges is the discrimination faced by women in agriculture and natural-resource management sectors. In developing countries, women are often prevented from owning or inheriting land or other productive resources, and have fewer opportunities to leverage technology. For example, in many developing countries women own as little as 10% of land.Footnote 39 Compared with men, women are more likely to operate smaller farms (often on marginal lands), earn less income, have a greater overall workload, and have weaker property rights – or no property rights.Footnote 40 Women also often lack decision-making power in the use and management of natural resources; they often earn lower wages or reduced profits; and can have uneven access to markets for their produce. Additionally, it is estimated that enhancing women farmers’ access to resources could reduce the number of hungry people by 100-150 million (or by up to 17% of the current total).Footnote 41

Low-income households headed by women are more likely to provide more nutritious food for their children than households headed by men.Footnote 42 Women of reproductive age experience specific nutritional vulnerability due to the physiological demands of pregnancy and lactation – demands that have not resulted in sufficient programmatic action to improve women’s diet quality and nutrition.Footnote 43 Moreover, a malnourished pregnant women will give birth to a malnourished child, thus focusing on women’s nutrition is helping to break a cycle of malnutrition and poverty. Focusing on food security and nutrition provides an entry point to address gender-equality issues such as household power structures and the distribution and control of food resources, including nutrient-dense foods. Accordingly, women’s empowerment can have a multiplier effect in decision-making at household and community levels as women play a leading role in food choices, food preparation, and other determinants of food security and nutrition.

Malnutrition is linked to diminished labour productivity, lower educational attainment, and increased costs of health services.Footnote 44 These factors, combined with several other barriers, limit the economic productivity of food-poor women’s capacity to generate income and provide for their families. Moreover, the prevalence of child malnutrition is directly linked to women’s socio-economic status. Malnutrition costs poor countries between 2% and 11% of annual GDP, representing several billion dollars in lost GDP each year.Footnote 45

Addressing food insecurity, malnutrition and a lack of dietary diversity are important priorities for G7 countries. The 2015 and 2016 G7 commitments include empowering women, smallholders and family farmers to advance and support sustainable agriculture and food value chains. G7 members have also recognized the importance of transparent and accountable supply chains.Footnote 46

In the resource extraction sector, women are largely excluded from productive opportunities because of discriminatory gendered social norms in households and communities, as well as their minimal participation in the value chain, lack of access to resources and markets, and limited political voice.Footnote 47 As a result, the benefits of extractive industries tend to accrue to men, particularly in the form of employment and compensation. The costs, including family and social disruption and environmental degradation, fall most heavily on women.Footnote 48

In fragile and conflict-affected states, it is important to strengthen women’s economic empowerment, particularly for communities heavily dependent on agriculture and natural resources. Empowering women to manage natural resources is central to ensuring resource security and resilience in times of conflict and during post-conflict recovery. Women’s access to and control of natural resources such as land, water, forests, energy and minerals can help facilitate long-term peace for conflict-affected countries.Footnote 49

Supporting women’s ability to access technical and productive resources has the potential to increase household incomes, improve the availability and affordability of nutritious foods, and bring as many as 100-150 million people out of hunger.Footnote 50 Essential resources for women’s economic empowerment in agriculture and natural management include extension services, land rights, agricultural capital, financial resources, timely market information, and direct access to markets. These are combined with access to physical and social infrastructure, as well as accessible and affordable childcare and eldercare services, and overcoming restrictive social norms and attitudes.


In line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda (SDG 5/SDG 2), the Italian Development Cooperation is financing the regional programme, “Enhancing gender mainstreaming for sustainable rural development and food security -  GEMAISA 2”, implemented by CIHEAM BARI. It promotes the role of women in the rural areas of six countries (Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Palestine and Jordan) to foster gender mainstreaming in the capacity-building of partner institutions.

In its first phase (2015–2016), the Programme was implemented in Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia and achieved remarkable results in improving the social and economic conditions of rural women through vocational training, delivery of ad hoc equipment, training to promote awareness of women's rights, access to information on available local resources, creation of local networks, and implementation of economic activities through a value-chain approach.

GEMAISA 2, designed to build on previous achievements, aims to: produce knowledge, data, tools, research, and pilot practices that empower rural women; combine policy dialogue with rural development institutions; provide technical assistance at local and central levels; and support women’s agency for the mainstreaming of their rights. Its main goal is creating a new model of multidimensional empowerment of rural women to promote women’s access to land, agriculture inputs, income, market, decent working conditions, and social protection.

This multi-dimensional empowerment approach takes into consideration different aspects of the multi-faceted life of rural women. It promotes linkages between public and private spheres of women's life, which directly impact household-level division of labour, as well as the division of social roles between the sexes in rural areas. Multi-dimensional empowerment merges awareness of women's rights and political empowerment with economic empowerment. In this perspective, the Programme identifies and addresses specific value chains, in which women are already involved, to strengthen their participation in the paths of socioeconomic sustainable development and their active role in economy and society.

Project for Promotion of Grace of the Sea in the Coastal Villages (Phase 3) (Vanuatu)

"The Project for the Promotion of the Grace of the Sea in Coastal Villages" has been implemented in Vanuatu since 2006 and supported the traditional coastal communities’ coastal resource-management activities. The Project also aimed to develop the means of livelihood of the communities to address the sustainability of resource management.

It is mainly women who collect shellfish from Vanuatu’s coastal reefs. Recognizing the craft-making skill of women in Vanuatu and the importance of achieving sustainable use of shellfish resources, groups of craftswomen was established in the communities through the Project activities. The handicraft work suited the women well. Each woman could schedule her work independently, balanced with her domestic duties. The women soon started to create original designs with traditional touches. Through women making the crafts by using the shells instead of live shellfish, selling them to the tourists of cruise ships by themselves, and obtaining cash, it has led to not only an improvement in livelihood but also an increase in awareness of resource management. The women also contributed to the promotion of the tourism industry by creating "Made in Vanuatu" souvenirs.

Another remarkable outcome is the creation of new opportunities for women in a male-centered society. In these areas, women rarely participate in economic activities, and most of them engage only in domestic labour. Women’s groups not only manufacture and sell shell and folk crafts, but also operate a fish cafe serving local dishes to tourists. The demonstration of their ability to generate incomes has raised their social status in the community. In fact, women’s groups are officially represented in the community’s Resource Management Committee and participate in the community’s decision-making process. The creation of such opportunities has brought income sources to group members and empowered women's social status.

Currently, the number of women's group members has increased, and independent activities are taking place and developing day by day. Some leading women of the group teach women from other islands the technique of making shell crafts as part of the country's vocational-training program.

Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) in Ghana

In Northern Ghana, Canada supports the GROW project implemented by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). The project aims to ensure that more than 20,000 families consume nutritious food throughout the year. GROW encourages women farmers to increase their agricultural production, strengthen their links to markets, diversify the food they produce, and improve their nutritional consumption. The project works with Ghana’s Women in Agricultural Development unit and Ghana Health Services on appropriate nutrition training and the use of soybeans to enhance household nutritional status. GROW focuses on three key areas:

  1. Assisting women farmers to increase and diversify farm production and productivity resulting in more food available to the family throughout the year;
  2. Helping women sell their products, particularly soybeans, to high-value markets so they have increased incomes to buy the food needed to supplement their production; and,
  3. Helping families improve their diets by providing information about their nutritional needs at each stage of life and demonstrating the combinations of foods that increase micronutrients.

In 2017-2018, the GROW project provided support to 21,500 women, contributing to the harvest of 14,632 metric tons of soybeans (compared to 94 metric tons in 2013). Since the start of the project in 2012, women farmers have recorded a 60% increase in their income levels due to the added value of growing soya. This increase made it possible for them to meet critical expenditures such as their children’s education expenses, family medical bills, and food costs for their families. It also allowed them to become more involved in decision-making within the household.  Women farmers benefitting from the project also reported that GROW is making a transformative change in their lives through increased access to extension services, improved seeds, credit from Village Savings and Loan Associates (VSLA), and value-added soya services.

3.2 - Overcoming Cultural, Social, and Legal Barriers to Strengthen Women’s Economic Participation

a. Addressing Discriminatory Gender Norms, Policies, and Laws

Women’s economic empowerment requires concerted efforts to address discriminatory and harmful norms, policies, and laws that hinder women’s economic participation. Many restrictions on women’s economic participation have been removed in recent years, a change that has been facilitated by international and G7 commitments, the increased access to information and participation of women in key policy-making positions, and overcoming legal barriers to women’s equal economic rights.Footnote 51 Examples of progress can be found in countries that promote women’s economic rights through legislations that authorize maternal and parental leave, as well as other policy and legislative strategies to overcome barriers to women’s economic empowerment.Footnote 52

Despite these achievements, widespread social norms that view unpaid care work as the responsibility of women and girls reinforce the double burden of work for many women and undercut development efforts to increase women’s participation in the formal workforce. Globally, women shoulder a disproportionate amount of child-rearing, care-giving, and other domestic responsibilities, regardless of their employment status, income, or education level.Footnote 53 Women are often expected to care for, nurture, and sustain household members, including cooking, cleaning, washing, feeding, childcare, and caring for the sick and elderly. In many countries, women are also expected to choose to leave their jobs once they have children. In some cases, despite increased educational levels, older age at first marriage, falling fertility rates, and growing private-sector opportunities, women “find it hard to reconcile working for wages in the private sector with their family responsibilities.”Footnote 54 Conversely, where women’s unpaid care work participation is lower, women’s labour-force participation is greater. The reduction in time spent on unpaid care work is also linked to improved infrastructure investments.

As part of the 2015 Elmau commitment on women’s economic empowerment, the G7 committed to overcoming barriers, including discrimination against women in developing countries. The G7 acknowledged that ending discrimination in the workplace, improving education among school-age children, and engaging with a holistic set of actors including men, boys, religious communities, the private sector, and civil society groups are central to addressing discriminatory societal norms, which includes reducing the burden of unpaid care work on women.Footnote 55

Increased efforts are needed to recognize and measure time spent in paid and unpaid work. Better analyses of the relationship between unpaid and paid economic contributions are necessary since unpaid work supports productive labour and the formal economy in countries on the path to sustainable development.

Addressing economic inequality must also speak to the inequitable distribution of unpaid care work, which is caused, in part, by inadequate physical infrastructure (drinking-water systems, transportation networks, etc.) and social infrastructure (childcare and health care, etc.). Access to improved physical and social infrastructure is associated with increased women’s labour force participation. For example, electrification in South Africa reduced the time women spent on housework, leading to a 9% increase in female labour force participation rates.Footnote 56 Improving working conditions and instituting family-friendly work policies are also linked to the redistribution of unpaid household work. These workplace policies include improved maternity and paternity leave subsidies, workplace support systems for breastfeeding and childcare, flexible work schedules, and opportunities for telework in areas where this is technologically feasible.

Restrictive or discriminatory gender-based social norms and practices can be enshrined in laws that are prejudiced against women, including in developing countries. Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. In the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2016 report, approximately 90% of 173 economies had at least one legal difference restricting women’s economic opportunities.Footnote 57 Some laws and regulations limit women’s ability to work and/or to access, own, and control property, inheritances, or other economic assets and productive resources on an equal basis with men. As noted earlier, women own a disproportionately small share of the world’s land and frequently have limited rights compared to men to secure land ownership in many countries. Globally, over 100 economies still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 economies have no laws against sexual harassment in the workplace, and 18 economies allow husbands to legally prevent their wives from working.Footnote 58

Without secure tenancy rights, especially in some countries where there are no inheritance rights for surviving spouses, women may be forced out of their homes upon the death of a husband or have no legal recourse if an abusive partner kicks them out.Footnote 59 Even in countries where laws are in place to protect women’s access to land or freedom to hold jobs, customary laws and practices can marginalize women and limit their economic security and productivity.

Legal changes are often necessary to ensure women’s equality and empowerment. Women’s equal rights as economic actors should be defined and secured by formal legal frameworks that are enforced and that take precedence over customary laws and practices. Reforming laws that maintain legal differences based on gender is essential to ensuring women’s ability to exercise the following rights: their equal rights to economic participation; their equal access to and shared control over assets such as land; and their equal right to acquire, manage, administer, enjoy, and dispose of property, and other resources.Footnote 60

Additional strategies to address women’s economic empowerment include the adoption of gender- appropriate social policies to help advance gender equality. Such policies help prevent individuals and their families from falling into or remaining in poverty, and promote access to health care and education. These efforts can also contribute to economic growth by raising labour productivity and enhancing social stability.Footnote 61 These policies should be complemented by awareness-raising efforts to ensure women understand and are able to act on the laws governing their rights.Footnote 62 Efforts to address negative social norms and to engage men and boys in promoting equal rights can promote innovative programming for women’s economic empowerment. Change will not be sustainable unless men and boys are engaged in a dialogue on gender equality and its benefits for all. Their buy-in and commitment to changing social norms and attitudes that perpetuate gender inequalities and marginalization need to be secured for sustainable development.


The Italian Development Cooperation has long implemented measures to mainstream gender policies and fight against gender-based violence and discriminatory gender norms.

In Senegal, for instance, Italy supported the Government of Senegal’s efforts to develop a strategy for the institutionalization of gender policies through the adoption of gender indicators and to implement an initiative to fight violence against women. This initiative led to a strategic partnership among UNWOMEN, Senegalese institutions, national and international institutes, and research centres specializing in gender issues.

The first component of the programme, “Supporting National Strategy for Gender Mainstreaming and Women Empowerment – PASNEEG”, aims to support the Government of Senegal’s development of a national gender strategy through the application of the methodology of Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) and the elaboration of a National Gender Indicator based on the Discriminatory Gender Norms analysis. SIGI combines qualitative and quantitative data, and takes into account both the de jure and de facto discrimination of social institutions through information about laws, attitudes and practices.

The variables taken into account span all stages of a woman’s life to show how discriminatory social habits can interlock and bind them into cycles of poverty and disempowerment.

The second component of the programme provides technical assistance to national and civil-society institutions seeking to strengthen the implementation of laws and policies, prevent violence against women and expand access to multi-sector services. In addition, the initiative applies the Well-Being Approach to the local and National Budget.


In Afghanistan, Canada is supporting a “Women’s and Girls’ Rights First” approach to development, and is advancing a feminist approach to its security-assistance programming. This “Women’s and Girls’ Rights First” approach includes several initiatives that aim to build the capacity of civil society and judicial institutions in the implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Law (2009).

The EVAW Law was drafted in 2008 by Afghan women’s-rights activists, the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs, UN Women (then UNIFEM) and the Women’s Commission in the Afghan Parliament. The drafting of the Law was also supported with Canadian technical assistance. Following a 3-P paradigm (protection, prevention and prosecution), this landmark legislation criminalized 22 acts of violence against women including child marriage, forced marriage, rape and assault. It also specified punishments for perpetrators of violence, as well as the Government of Afghanistan’s responsibilities to protect and support victims.

The “Strengthening Afghanistan's Future Through Empowerment” project focuses on: strengthening community-based protection mechanisms for women and young girls; enhancing their access to justice and psychosocial counselling; building the capacity of women to establish small businesses; and working with civil-society organizations and volunteers to address barriers to women’s engagement in domestic and community decision-making processes.

The initiative addresses discriminatory social and cultural practices through:

b. Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

Violence against women and girls violates, abuses, and impairs their human rights. Violence against women and girls takes many forms, including, but not limited to: intimate-partner violence; sexual violence in conflict and crisis; child, early, and forced marriage; female-genital mutilation/cutting; female infanticide; child sex selection including through sex-selective abortion; dowry-related violence; modern slavery; sexual exploitation and abuse; neglect of girls; and crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’.

The most common form of violence experienced by women around the world, or 30% of women who have been in a relationship, is physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by an intimate partner.Footnote 63 In many countries, violence against women, particularly domestic or intimate partner violence, is not a crime.Footnote 64 Women who experience intimate partner violence are more likely than other women to work in casual and part-time jobs and to earn lower wages.Footnote 65 Studies also document higher rates of intimate partner violence during times of conflict.Footnote 66

Sexual and gender based violence disrupts economic activities, reduces earning opportunities, and has long-term and negative impacts on economic productivity, including reducing survivors’ incomes throughout their lives. The estimated cost of gender-based violence is US$4.4 trillion, or 5.2% of global GDP, based on studies of reported cases.Footnote 67

Protracted conflicts and periods of state fragility also fundamentally affect the structural constraints on women’s economic empowerment, including through altering and aggravating damaging gender norms and practices. For example, research in South Sudan has found that conflicts exacerbate intimate partner violence, as women reported increases in the brutality and the frequency of assaults during periods of wartime chaos and economic insecurity. In Rumbek, South Sudan, almost 75% of women have reported experiencing violence at the hands of their partners or husbands.Footnote 68 Women and girls may experience many other forms of violence including conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), such as: rape; child, early, or forced marriage, and other harmful practices. Rape has “long been used as a tactic of war, with violence against women during or after armed conflicts reported in every international or non-international war-zone” in violation of international humanitarian law.Footnote 69 There is evidence that conflict can also contribute to increased rates of child marriage, which remain high in post-conflict situations.Footnote 70 SGBV or even the threat of it restricts women’s choices and freedom of mobility, limits their ability to act, diminishes women’s health, and discourages them from participating in the labour market.Footnote 71

Changing migration and labour dynamics have increased the number of women and migrant workers vulnerable to migration-related violence and discrimination. Among migrant workers, 83.7 million (55.7%) are men and 66.6 million (44.3%) are women.Footnote 72 During their migratory experience, women must often deal with difficult working and living conditions that expose them to harassment, intimidation, threats, economic and sexual abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence, including trafficking and racial discrimination.

Regardless of the form, violence against women and girls violates, abuses, and impairs the human rights of individuals. It has wide-ranging negative impacts on families and societies, notably on economic productivity, and undercuts progress made across all sectors.

The costs associated with violence against women and girls include costs relating to the goods and services required to care for survivors of violence. Other costs include lost potential. Reduced productivity and lost personal income are measurable costs affecting the economic performance of both workers and employers.Footnote 73 Violence against women can affect workforce productivity in many ways, such as: poor work performance due to physical and emotional suffering; absenteeism; and higher recruitment and training costs due to high staff turn-over rates. The economic consequences of this productivity loss can be significant with estimated losses of 3.7% of GDP.Footnote 74 At times, the costs associated with violence are borne by children. These include the negative psychological impacts on children who witness violence in the home or the loss of potential that results when women and girls terminate their education or training due to experiences of violence.Footnote 75 When violence against women and girls results in death, the costs associated with pain and suffering can be felt by the entire community.

An examination of the economic and financial impacts of SGBV in times of war or conflict can facilitate improved efforts to build resilience and foster recovery interventions that promote women’s economic empowerment. Reducing violence against women could increase the amount of development assistance available for reallocation to broader gender equality programming and economic development opportunities. Furthermore, to ensure that survivors of violence can actively participate in the economy, they must have access to justice and adequate psychosocial support. Efforts to tackle norms that contribute to violence against women and girls must also address any resistance and backlash that the efforts inspire, such as opposition to the promotion of economic opportunities for women. It is necessary to work with men, particularly men who are in positions of traditional or religious leadership and strongly influence social norms, to ensure the success of interventions that aim to foster gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

Legal reforms and new legislation demonstrate increased commitments to women’s empowerment. In the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2018 report,Footnote 76 130 of the 189 economies assessed, including every economy in South Asia, have laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work, while 59 economies lack such legislation. The same report also underscored that more than 140 economies have implemented legislation prohibiting domestic violence against women and ensuring their protection. Greater attention must be given to policies that promote the better enforcement of relevant laws to give women more confidence in their justice systems. Important strides have been made in relation to the collection of data about violence against women. However, in a majority of countries, less than 40% of women who experienced violence sought help. Among those who did seek help, less than 10% sought help from the police.Footnote 77 Ongoing efforts to increase reporting of violence against women and to track all forms of violence in all sectors are central to creating an environment conducive to women’s economic empowerment.

The G7 commitment to women’s economic empowerment recognizes violence against women and girls as a major barrier to women’s economic participation that must be overcome. G7 countries are committed to providing the necessary support to tackle violence against women and girls in all its forms.Footnote 78


The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development presented a new five-point plan “Ending violence against women” in November 2017. The plan highlighted the central role of violence prevention and emphasized providing support to victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

The project combating violence against women in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay (ComVoMujer), brings together public, non-governmental, and private-sector stakeholders to collectively implement measures combating violence against women. Campaigns, studies, and the dissemination of information support a process of social change that rejects violence against women. In addition, preventive measures implemented through state, non-governmental, and private partnerships by universities and the media aim to change views within businesses and organizations.

Implemented measures include:

The lessons learned from Latin America informed a new project, which began in 2017, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to the international development cooperation activities, Germany also has a broad, well-differentiated domestic network of protection and advisory facilities for all women and girls affected by violence in Germany. An important central point of contact for the entire support system is the national "Violence Against Women" helpline. Free of charge, it provides help and advice on all forms of violence and on local support facilities. It can be reached 24/7, anonymously, barrier-free and provides service in 18 languages. The national helpline is well received, also by an increasing number of female refugees, with well over 140,000 advisory sessions in 5 years.

United Kingdom

Gulina* is a young woman from Tajikistan. She was married young to Zafar* and lives with her extended family, as is tradition.

Her mother-in-law managed the household finances, controlling Gulina’s movements and money. As a wife, Gulina was expected to be submissive and obedient. If she fell short of this ideal, she was disciplined.

It is estimated that up to half of all women in Tajikistan are regularly subjected to physical, psychological or sexual violence from family members. Findings from the formative research phase of the Zindagii Shoista (Living with Dignity) project funded through the UK AID What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls Programme, found high levels of sexual and gender-based violence. Around 60% of women participants had experienced domestic violence.

“Women have a low status in Tajik society,” says Project Manager Shahribonu Shonasimova. “Practices such as early marriage, polygamy and weak protections for women in terms of divorce and property rights, continue to undermine women’s rights”.

The emotional stress, poor living-conditions, meagre diet, and extra workload that Gulina was subjected to by her extended family led her to consider divorce. Fortunately, Gulina, her husband and mother-in- law were invited to join Zindagii Shoista Dignity workshops. This intervention brings together families with their peers to discuss and improve relationships and empower themselves economically through income- generating activities.

“I am feeling improvements in my relationships with my mother-in-law and, of course, all this helped to improve my relationships with others,” says Gulina.

Field research conducted in the four target villages of the project after implementation showed that:

* Names changed

c. Achieving Adequate and Equitable Health Outcomes for Women and Girls

Healthy women lead to healthy economies and healthy societies. When empowered with the knowledge, skills, social networks, opportunities and support to succeed in life, and make informed choice, women and girls tend to marry later, bear children later, and have better health and economic outcomes for themselves. Globally, however, millions of women and girls lack access to healthcare resources to overcome the multiple barriers to empowerment, inclusion and opportunity.

Worldwide each year, an estimated 300,000 women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth complications, while nearly three million newborns die during their first month of life.Footnote 79 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries, particularly in crisis settings, and the vast majority of the deaths are preventable.Footnote 80 In addition, many women suffer debilitating long-term pregnancy-related injuries, such as obstetric fistula. Yet, currently, only half of all pregnant women in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have adequate care during childbirth.Footnote 81

Access to high-quality, affordable healthcare is central to women’s economic empowerment and at the heart of the priorities of the 2030 Agenda, which is reflected in integrated approaches to promote and protect women and girls’ health and well-being through evidence-based healthcare and health information. Improved health can empower women and girls and facilitate informed strategic decision- making that can result in improved labour market participation and family stability. They also must have the right to decide the number, timing, and spacing of their pregnancies. They should also have access to health care, so they may enjoy strong, healthy families and live in thriving communities and nations.Footnote 82

Investment in health systems and in maternal and child health remains a critical development need. For those affected by conflict and natural disaster, ensuring access to quality health care must be a high priority, particularly when people are displaced or when key health systems are disrupted. Attention should be paid to the specific needs of women and girls, including the availability of menstrual hygiene commodities and safe access to the sanitation facilities that can vastly improve the quality of life of many women and girls and reduce absences from school or work. The expressed desires of women and girls should inform investments in the provision of the knowledge, skills, social networks, opportunities and support to succeed in life and make informed choice, including through evidence-based healthcare and health information.

Addressing inadequate and unequal health care for women and girls begins with identifying the various economic, health, and social barriers that limit their economic potential. Strategies to improve women’s economic empowerment, financial inclusion, and sustainable development include changes to policy and regulatory environments that better support women’s and girls’ health needs through inclusive and equitable access to quality and age-appropriate healthcare.Footnote 83

The G7 recognizes the importance of promoting the health of women and girls, adolescents, and children, including through efforts to provide access to informed family-planning services, immunization, better nutrition, and needs-based responses to emergencies and disasters.Footnote 84 Footnote 85 Footnote ix G7 members have affirmed their commitments to come as close as possible to universal accesses to prevention, treatment, care, and support with respect to HIV/AIDS.Footnote 86

C’est- la- Vie: the French Africa-made TV series for women’s health and empowerment

Many women and girls face multiple and intersecting inequalities, forms of discrimination, and barriers, notably a lack of access to adequate, acceptable, and quality health services.

To raise awareness, France has decided through the French Muskoka Fund (joint program implemented in eight west and central African countries by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UNWOMEN for sexual, reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health, and nutrition) to support the innovative francophone Africa-made TV series “C’est la Vie”.

“C’est la Vie” focuses on a health centre in the fictitious neighborhood of Ratanga and deals with many issues faced by African women. Through edutainment, the show aims to inform and to raise the awareness of the general public, especially young people, about many health and gender issues, such as access to quality health services, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, unsafe abortion, gender-based violence, female-genital mutilation, early and forced marriage, sexual abuse, and women’s empowerment.

Accompanying the TV broadcasts are radio adaptations, talk shows, social-media, and web content, a multimedia game, and community-communication campaigns, creating a wave of information, awareness-raising and new ideas on a large scale.

A survey conducted in seven African cities determined that the series attracted more than 20 million viewers during its first season. This success inspired multiple partners to join the program; AFD, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Amplify Change, UNESCO and DKT international will all help to fund seasons 3 and 4.

The Project for Cordillera-wide Strengthening of the Local Health System for Effective and Efficient Delivery of Maternal and Child Health Services (Philippines)

Japan contributed to the drastic reduction in maternal deaths due to pregnancy-related complications in rural mountainous areas of the Philippines, where the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) implemented an assisted technical-cooperation project for equitable and quality maternal and child health services from 2012 to 2017. The project upgraded 100 village health-posts and rural health-centres as basic emergency-obstetric and newborn care facilities and provided update training to 300 rural midwives and nurses. It also led to 70% of pregnant women securing health insurance, with strong Philippine government initiative of increasing “sin taxes” to provide full premium subsidy for the impoverished.

The project produced the localized, culturally-sensitive Family Health Diary and the Maternal and Child Health Handbook – two powerful tools that empower women by providing information about pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum, which family members understand can endanger life if complications ensue. Further, the project promoted the sharing of personnel and resources, such as medicines and transportation, among local government units. These investments enabled poor pregnant women living in rural areas to safely deliver their babies with the assistance of skilled health professionals without financial concern. Facility delivery rate in the project sites increased from 79% (2012) to 93% (2015), completion rate of pre-natal care and post-partum care have been raised from 63% and 90% (2012) to 84% and 98% (2015) respectively, which might have led to the reduced maternal mortality ratio from 71 (2012) to 45 (2015) per 100,000 live births.

3.3 - Promoting Women's Voices and Leadership

Promoting women’s voices and leadership is essential to removing constraints to their agency (see Textbox 3). When women have the freedom to exercise their agency, they are able to assert their needs, aspirations, priorities, capacities, and constraints. They make informed choices, transform their choices into desired outcomes, participate in decision-making, and influence policies and programs that affect their lives.

To ensure women’s voices are heard, women must be able to be meaningfully involved in leadership, decision-making, and policy creation at all levels. The equal participation of women with men in households and communities, in public life and politics as policymakers and legislators, and in a broad range of influential leadership positions is linked to the economic empowerment for women, gender equality and rights, and broader Sustainable Development Goals. Women’s meaningful participation in the political sphere can promote gender balance in the workforceFootnote 87 and could trigger a 12–25% increase in global GDP by 2025.Footnote 88

However, women lack role models and mentors, to inspire and support their political and economic empowerment.Footnote 89 At the start of 2017, women held only 19 ministerial finance/budget portfolios and 19 ministerial economy/development portfolios in 186 countries. In 30 countries, women hold more than 30% of ministerial positions in parliaments.Footnote 90 Women are also under-represented in many leadership categories. A 2014 OECD report noted that women made up only 30% of legislators, senior officials and managers in OECD countries and China. In the private sector, only 24% of senior managers in mid-market businesses globally were women, and fewer than 7% of executive directors were women.Footnote 91

Strategies to improve women’s voices, leadership, and agency in economic activities require investments in women’s political participation at all levels of government and efforts to advance women’s leadership within public-sector institutions. Support for civil society groups engaged in gender-equality efforts, particularly local women’s groups that promote the rights of women and girls, are also important to increase women’s social, economic, and political power. Locally-based associations and groups, including women’s associations, are well placed to raise concerns and negotiate new opportunities, such as collective loans, and to serve as interlocutors between communities and government or private sector organizations to achieve greater institutional support for women’s economic participation. They can advocate for the adoption of laws that protect the equal rights of all workers, including women to unionize, to strike, and to lobby for the reform or repeal of unjust laws, in the context of national, state and local legislation. The groups can also support women’s collective-enterprises and cooperatives by providing training and by supporting their fair integration into supply chains.Footnote 92

The G7 is committed to promoting policies that enhance women’s participation and leadership in all aspects of social, economic and political lifeFootnote 93 and is working with governments, intergovernmental agencies and civil society to support and recognize women’s organizations such as unions, cooperatives and voluntary associations, in the context of national, state and local legislation.

Textbox 3: Promoting Women’s Agency

Agency is the ability to recognize and make choices, and to turn these choices into tangible results. Agency is key to economic empowerment, as it allows women to make and influence decisions, challenge social and cultural norms, and change the underlying factors that affect their ability to succeed. For the marginalized and poorest, agency is essential to support their greater inclusion in the economy.Footnote 94

Expressions of agency include:

  • Control over resources – measured by women’s ability to earn and control income, and to own, use, and dispose of material assets.
  • Ability to move freely – measured by women’s freedom to decide their movements and their ability to move outside their homes.
  • Freedom from the risk of violence – measured by the prevalence of domestic violence and other forms of sexual, physical, and emotional violence.
  • Ability to have a voice in society and influence policy – measured by participation and representation in formal politics and engagement in collective action and associations.
  • Decision-making over family formation – measured by women’s and girls’ ability to decide when and whom to marry, healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy, and when to leave a marriage.

(Source: World Bank, World Development Report, 2012, chapter 4: “Promoting Women’s Agency”)


In June 2017, Canada announced the launch of a new CDN$ 150M/ 5 years Women’s Voice and Leadership Program to support local women’s organisations and movements that advance women’s rights and gender equality in developing countries. The Program will be implemented in over 30 countries where Canada has a development presence. Local women’s organizations that advance women’s rights and gender equality, particularly at the grassroots level, play an important role in raising social awareness, mobilizing communities to change laws, attitudes, social norms and practices, and holding governments accountable. Yet, globally such organizations face significant gaps in funding. The Women’s Voice and Leadership Program will strengthen institutional capacity, support activities, and promote network and alliance building. Canada has announced Women’s Voice and Leadership projects in Haiti (CDN $ 8.3M) and Ukraine (CDN $ 4.75M), as well as regional projects in the Middle East (CDN $ 5.5M), and Pan-Africa (CDN $ 7M). Canada is also seeking to increase the impact of the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program by engaging with philanthropic organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which committed US $ 20 M to support local women’s organizations in the fall of 2017.


Since 2015, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Solidarity and Health and the Mediterranean interdepartmental delegation have jointly supported the programme “Femmes d’avenir en Méditerranée”. The three streams of the programme all aim to reinforce women’s leadership in the region. The third stream, implemented by Sciences Po Paris, focuses particularly on amplifying women’s voices.

Each year, Sciences Po selects a cohort of 20 women with a highly transformative potential to participate in a training programme on women’s leadership. Selected candidates attend a 10-day training programme, which includes meetings with female leaders (artists, politicians, business women, researchers, journalists, etc.), and complete numerous workshops to help them develop and improve their technical leadership skills. The programme is based on an interactive approach that encourages trainees to share their personal experiences and good practices.

As of today, 66 women from diverse Mediterranean countries and various professional sectors have graduated from the programme. They have set up an alumni community on social networks, where they continue to exchange career advice, creating a dynamic regional network of women committed to shared values of solidarity and equality.


Strengthening women in decision-making in the Middle East – LEAD

German Development Cooperation supports women’s political and formative participation in decision-making in the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Lebanon.

LEAD has three components:

  1. Promoting women in local politics and local government;
  2. Conducting gender audits in municipalities and implementing the resulting recommendations; and,
  3. Establishing gender platforms and networks and reinforcing existing ones to coordinate the objectives and activities of the affiliated civil-society organizations.

An earlier project in the Palestinian territories developed and piloted measures that are now being scaled-up and mainstreamed in Lebanon and Jordan. LEAD focuses on women who shape community development as civil society actors or hold municipal office (some on a voluntary basis) or technical positions in local government in the selected cities, rural communities, and villages. Furthermore, the project supports women’s organizations and networks to strengthen the women’s movement and women’s representation, voice, and agency in the region.


For the past 20 years, Italy has carried out strong actions in favour of Palestinian women’s social, cultural, and economic empowerment.

The most important program of the Italian Development Cooperation is the “Women’s Empowerment and Local Development”, whose results include the creation and widening of 11 women’s- empowerment centres (called TAWASOL) and the implementation of an institution building action in favour of the Ministry of Women Affairs to ensure gender mainstreaming in all sectors of the society.

The TAWASOL centres have created an inclusive governance structure based on a network of more than 250 women leaders of civil society and institutions. The network has been instrumental to discuss issues related to the development and the empowerment of women, to propose practices, to negotiate solutions, to inform policies, and for training and awareness-raising campaigns for women's rights.

Furthermore, TAWASOL centres have been very useful in addressing several issues connected to women's access to land and agricultural resources, as well as addressing problems that limit the participation of Palestinian women in the agricultural economy, relegating them to traditional roles of labourers, instead of being at the heart of the production chain.


Training Course on Gender and Diversity in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

The degree of damage and harm caused by natural hazards is different depending on factors such as gender, age, and disability. Particularly in developing countries, death tolls are higher among women than among men, and post-disaster unemployment rates also tend to be higher among women.

Based on its disaster experiences, Japan launched the “Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction” in 2015. The Initiative underscores the importance of women’s participation in decision-making at all stages – from risk reduction, through relief to recovery and reconstruction. Since 2016, Japan has organized training courses on “Gender and Diversity in Disaster Risk Reduction”, which focus on strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR) from a gender and diversity perspective. Through this project, participants, mainly from Asian and Latin American countries, learn why women are disproportionately affected by disasters and what sort of gender issues emerge in a disaster’s aftermath. Participants learned to recognize the active roles that women play in DRR in their communities, and the importance of developing gender-responsive DRR policies and action plans. They took these lessons back to their ministries responsible for social welfare, women’s and children’s affairs, and disaster management, as well as NGOs engaging vulnerable groups and providing DRR services to communities.

United Kingdom

The UK has worked with its partners to increase women’s political participation as voters, candidates and effective elected representatives, at subnational and national levels, in many countries including Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma and Somalia. In Pakistan, the UK supports efforts to increase the representation of women and other marginalized groups in parliament, provincial assemblies and political parties. The UK’s Consolidating Democracy in Pakistan provides £31.5 million over three years (2016–19), focusing on improvements in election management and operations, parliamentary processes, political-party development, and overall democratic space. Ensuring greater voice and opportunity for women to be politically active is a central component in all areas. For example, the Programme supports efforts to close the gender gap in voter registration to ensure an additional 12 million women are able to exercise their right to vote.

United States of America

The United States promotes women’s agency across a range of economic initiatives to ensure women have equal access to, control over and benefit from resources. Through land and agriculture activities, the U.S. is helping women to formalize and enforce their equal right to own, inherit, use and invest in land. In Tanzania, the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) project is increasing formalization of land holdings while recognizing and protecting women’s rights. Water programs ensure that women and girls have time-saving access to water for daily household use, and greater voice in how scarce water is allocated for agriculture. PowerAfrica and Engendering Utilities engage women in the decision-making processes of utilities development and operations, while also opening employment opportunities in male- dominant sectors.  PowerAfrica is also working with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), to train young women as leaders in the energy sector. USAID’s research under the Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises Fund (WLSME) has demonstrated the positive impact of providing leadership training that enables women to better negotiate on behalf of themselves and their companies through applied life skills; the findings are now being actively incorporated into new programming. The State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) regularly brings women from the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) to the U.S. for professional development and interaction with policy makers and business leaders.

The United States is addressing women’s access to finance as a contributor to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), as well as through guarantee programs that promote expansion of credit, and financial products and services to greater numbers of women. At the country level, programs such as the Colombia Rural Finance Initiative are working to eliminate constraints on women’s economic agency such as requirements for a male co-signer on loan applications.

Beyond supporting businesses directly owned and/or run by women, the United States also looks to support businesses that empower women by offering decent jobs, incorporating women into their supply chains or distribution channels, and providing products and/or services that benefit women as customers, such as financial services.

The WomenConnect Challenge, launched in March 2018, seeks to reduce the digital gender divide and enable women to access and use information technology to connect to better connect to business networks, market information, and job opportunities.   The recently launched Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality (WE3), provides a global public platform of country-level indicators to enable public and private sector reformers to identify specific constraints and track reform progress. The WE3 Dashboard uses over 70 indicators in five “pillar” categories: Access to Capital; Access to Markets; Innovation and Technology; Leadership, Voice, and Agency; and Skills, Capacity-Building, and Health.

European Union

The EU Gender Action Plan 2016–2020 aims to increase, in a measurable manner, girls’ and women’s agency, voice and participation in social, economic and political life. The Plan points out that 'discriminatory laws, practices or norms limit girls’ and women’s social, economic and political participation'. Young women who would like to engage in politics are often subject to ‘double discrimination’ because of their sex and their age.

The EU issued a call for proposals for a €5 million "Pilot Programme to Strengthen Political Parties" (EIDHR). The Programme aims to empower young women to take an active role in the life of political parties (including in policy-making and decision-making structures) and in political affairs in general, at both national and local levels.

Chapter 4 - Conclusions

The G7 Progress Report helps ensure accountability for commitments made by G7 Leaders. The Charlevoix Progress Report outlines progress made by the G7 in implementing the 2015 Elmau commitment on women’s economic empowerment.

The Charlevoix Progress Report illustrates that the definition and measure of women’s economic empowerment continues to evolve. This Report uses the OECD-DAC creditor reporting system as the main data source to capture gender-targeted disbursements. The OECD-DAC data codes include economic and productive sectors, as well as education and skills training sectors which are directly relevant to women’s economic empowerment.

G7 members are making tangible and important progress in advancing women’s economic empowerment by addressing the barriers to their participation in the workforce and in the communities. This Report demonstrates that, 28% of G7 and EU reported ODA disbursements in 2015 and 2016 supported initiatives in key economic and productive sectors, and education and skills training sectors, focused on achieving gender equality and women's empowerment reflecting their strong commitment towards women’s economic empowerment. Further support of US$ 529 million by G7 and EU was provided to address violence against women and girls, a key barrier to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, as described in Chapter 2.

Despite progress and investments made to foster an enabling environment, much remains to be done to achieve women’s economic empowerment. The systemic barriers to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment require holistic approaches that focus not only on increasing women’s capacities and access to capital, but also on transforming social norms and power relations.

Strategies to improve women’s voice and agency in economic activities also requires investments in the capacity of local women’s groups to promote the rights of women and girls, and to increase their social, economic and political power. Local women’s groups and associations are well placed to serve as champions for women’s economic participation, and as interlocutors between communities and government or private-sector organizations. Men and boys also have an important role to play in challenging the institutions, traditions and customs that support and maintain gender inequalities. They further play a part in improving the sustainability of investments in, and outcomes of, interventions for women’s economic empowerment.

The G7 collectively recognizes the need for improved methods and approaches to collect, analyze and track sex and age disaggregated data to measure women’s economic activities. Data on women’s economic empowerment will help us understand the full scope of the intersectional barriers that must be overcome to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. Additional data tracking system that captures disbursements which address social, cultural and legal barriers to women’s economic empowerment by the OECD-DAC would also be beneficial. This will further facilitate research and policy discussions for strengthening women’s economic empowerment.

Thus, the constraints and barriers to women’s economic empowerment need to be further addressed through concerted efforts at the international, national, regional and local levels, as well as in partnership with civil-society and private-sector organizations. The G7 will continue to work towards overcoming these barriers and to promote women’s economic empowerment.


Annex A - G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Empowerment

G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment

Annex B - List of G7 Active commitments

Commitments I - Aid and Aid Effectiveness

1. Increasing Development Assistance

We reaffirm our respective ODA commitments, such as the O.7% ODA/GNI target as well as our commitment to reverse the declining trend of ODA to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and to better target ODA towards countries where the needs are greatest.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p.19

2. Development Effectiveness

We will implement and be monitored on all commitments we made in the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness (now superseded by the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation), including enhancing efforts to untie aid; disbursing aid in a timely and predictable fashion, through partner country systems where possible, increasing harmonization and donor coordination, including more programme based approaches. We have all agreed to implement the Busan Common Standard on Aid Transparency, including both the Creditor Reporting System of the OECD Development Assistance Committee and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), by 2015. To show greater G8 leadership we will ensure data on G8 development assistance is open, timely, comprehensive and comparable.

Gleneagles 2005, Africa, para. 32

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, para. 49

3. Innovative Financing

… we have committed to the Charlevoix Commitment on Innovative Financing for Development to promote economic growth in developing economies and foster greater equality of opportunity within and between countries… We recognize the value in development and humanitarian assistance that promotes greater equality of opportunity, and gender equality, and prioritizes the most vulnerable, and will continue to work to develop innovative financing models to ensure that no one is left behind.Footnote x

Charlevoix 2018, G7 Summit Communiqué, para. 7

Commitments II - Economic Development

4. Trade and Development

We stand ready to continue to provide, within our current Aid for Trade commitments, substantial technical assistance and capacity building to help implement a WTO Trade Facilitation deal, in particular to the benefit of the Least Developed Countries.

We will also be more transparent in reporting the aid we provide, and work with developing countries, especially the poorest, to ensure that resources are better matched to needs.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, para.17

5. Trade and Infrastructure in Africa

The G8 will work with African countries and regional economic communities to meet the AU’s target of doubling intra-Africa trade and reducing crossing times at key border posts by 50% by 2022.

The G8 commits to provide increased support for project preparation facilities for African regional infrastructure programmes.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, paras. 19-20

6. Quality Infrastructure Investment

…we strive to align our own infrastructure investment with the G7 Ise-Shima Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment, as set out in the Annex. We further encourage the relevant stakeholders, namely governments, international organizations, including MDBs, and the private sector, such as in PPP projects, to align their infrastructure investment and assistance with the Principles, including the introduction and promotion of a transparent, competitive procurement process that takes full account of value for money and quality of infrastructure.

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 9

7. Responsible Supply Chains

We will strive for better application of internationally recognized labour, social and environmental standards, principles and commitments…, increase our support to help SMEs develop a common understanding of due diligence and responsible supply chain management…, strengthen multi-stakeholder initiatives in our countries and in partner countries…, support partner countries in taking advantage of responsible global supply chains. We also commit to strengthening mechanisms for providing access to remedies including the National Contact Points (NCPs) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises…

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 6

We commit to striving for better application and promotion of internationally recognized social, labor, safety, tax cooperation and environmental standards throughout the global economy and its supply chains.

Taormina 2017, Leaders’ Communiqué, para. 22

Commitments III - Health

8. Attaining UHC with strong health systems and better preparedness for public health emergencies

We are therefore strongly committed to continuing our engagement in this field with a specific focus on strengthening health systems through bilateral programmes and multilateral structures. We are also committed to support country-led HSS in collaboration with relevant partners including the WHO.

We commit to promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC)… We emphasize the need for a strengthened international framework to coordinate the efforts and expertise of all relevant stakeholders and various fora/ initiatives at the international level, including disease-specific efforts.Footnote xi

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p.12;

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, pp. 2, 11,12;

Taormina 2017, Leaders’ Communiqué, para. 38

Ise-Shima Vision for Global Health 2-1-2, 3

9. Preventing and Responding to Future Outbreaks

We commit to preventing future outbreaks from becoming epidemics by assisting countries to implement the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (IHR), including through Global Health Security Agenda and its common targets and other multilateral initiatives. In this framework, we will also be mindful of the healthcare needs of migrants and refugees.

…we call on the international community to support the Contingency Fund for Emergency (CFE) to enable swift initial responses by the WHO… we welcome the World Bank’s formal announcement of launching the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), and invite the international community including G7 members to extend technical support and financial contributions to this end…

We renew our support to a coordinated approach to offer concrete assistance to 76 countries and regions and support to these partners to develop national plans in close coordination with the WHO and other relevant organizations. (US)

…we intend to assist these partners to achieve the common and measurable targets of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) tool published by the WHO.

We remain committed to advancing compliance with the WHO’s IHR objectives including through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 12;

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, pp.10-11

10. Setting Up Mechanisms for Rapid Deployment

Simultaneously, we will coordinate to fight future epidemics and will set up or strengthen mechanisms for rapid deployment of multidisciplinary teams of experts coordinated through a common platform.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 13

11. Reforming and Strengthening WHO’s Capacity

We support the ongoing process to reform and strengthen the WHO’s capacity to prepare for and respond to complex health crises while reaffirming the central role of the WHO for international health security. We commit to take leadership in reinforcing the Global Health Architecture, relying on strengthening existing organizations. …We… support the WHO to implement its emergency and wider reforms, including its One WHO approach across the three levels of the Organization, namely its headquarters, regional and country offices, in a timely manner, recognizing its resource needs.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 13;

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 10

12. Mobilizing Support for the Global Fund

Mobilizing support for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We fully support a successful 5th replenishment of the GF.

St. Petersburg 2006, Fight Against Infectious Diseases, 2; Reprise et renaissance, paragr. 15

Muskoka 2010, Muskoka Declaration: Recovery and New Beginnings, para. 15; Reprise et renaissance, paragr. 15

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 12

13. Antimicrobial Resistances

We fully support the recently adopted WHO Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. We will develop or review and effectively implement our national action plans and support other countries as they develop their own national action plans… We commit to taking into account the Annex (Joint Efforts to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance) as we develop or review and share our national action plans. We commit to make collective efforts for strengthening and actively implementing a multi-sectoral One Health Approach, taking into account the sectors including human and animal health, agriculture, food and the environment.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 13;

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, pp.12-13

14. Neglected Tropical Diseases

We commit to supporting NTD-related research, focusing notably on areas of most urgent need. …we support community based response mechanisms to distribute therapies and otherwise prevent, control and ultimately eliminate these diseases. We will invest in the prevention and control of NTDs in order to achieve 2020 elimination goals. We also acknowledge the importance and contribution of R&D and innovation to preserve and deploy existing remedies, and to discover new remedies for these and other health areas, such as neglected tropical diseases and poverty related infectious diseases.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 11;

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 10

15. Ending Preventable Child Deaths and Improving Maternal Health

We are committed to ending preventable child deaths and improving maternal health worldwide. We continue to take leadership in promoting the health of women and girls, adolescents and children, including through efforts to provide access to sexual and reproductive health, rights and services, immunization, better nutrition, and needs-based responses in emergencies and disasters.Footnote xii

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 15;

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 12

16. Prevention and Treatment for HIV/AIDS

We reaffirm our commitment to come as close as possible to universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support with respect to HIV/AIDS.

Muskoka 2010, Muskoka Declaration: Recovery and New Beginnings, para. 15

17. HIV/AIDS: Stigma, Discrimination and Rights Violation

We commit to counter any form of stigma, discrimination and human rights violation and to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and the elimination of travel restrictions on people with HIV/AIDS.

L’Aquila 2009, Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future, para. 123

18. Polio

We stress our continuing commitment to the eradication of polio which is a reachable objective… To this end, we will continue to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. We… reaffirm our continued commitment to reaching polio eradication targets.

Deauville 2011, Deauville G8 Declaration, para. 60 (d);

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 12

Commitments IV - Food Security

19. L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI)

Increase investment for agriculture and food security, including additional resources for food and development, by mobilising, with other donors, US$ 20 billion over three years (by 2012) through the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI). We commit to fulfil outstanding L’Aquila financial pledges, seek to maintain strong support to address current and future global security challenges, including through bilateral and multilateral assistance, and agree to take new steps to accelerate progress towards food security and nutrition in Africa and globally, on a complementary basis.

L’Aquila 2009, Joint Statement on Global Food Security, 12;

Camp David 2012, Declaration, para. 16

20. New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

We commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities. This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade and be guided by a collective commitment to:

Camp David 2012, Declaration, para. 18

21. Broad Food Security and Nutrition Development

“As part of a broad effort involving our partner countries, and international actors, and as a significant contribution to the Post 2015 Development Agenda, we aim to lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. The G7 Broad Food Security and Nutrition Development Approach, as set out in the annex, will make substantial contributions to these goals”

Elmau 2015, Elmau Leaders’ Communiqué, p. 19

We have therefore decided to raise our collective support for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa through an array of possible actions, such as increasing Official Development Assistance, better targeting and measuring our respective interventions in line with food security and nutrition-related recommendations defined at Elmau and Ise-Shima, and ensuring they reach women and girls, backing efforts to attract responsible private investments and additional resources from other development stakeholders. We will encourage blended finance and public private partnerships (PPPs). We will act in line with African countries priorities and consistently with the African Union Agenda 2063, aiming to reach also the most neglected areas and the most vulnerable people.

Taormina 2017, Leaders’ Communiqué, para. 30

Commitments V - Education

22. Global Partnership for Education

The G8 will continue to work with partners and other donors to meet shortfalls in all FTI (now the Global Partnership for Education – GPE) endorsed countries.

Heiligendamm 2007, Growth and Responsibility in Africa, para. 38

23. Quality Education for Women and Girls

Through the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries, we demonstrate our commitment to increase opportunities for at least 12 years of safe and quality education for all and to dismantle the barriers to girls’ and women’s quality education, particularly in emergencies and in conflict-affected and fragile states.Footnote xiii

Charlevoix 2018, G7 Summit Communiqué, para. 11

Commitments VI - Equality

24. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights

We are committed to ensuring sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and ending child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.Footnote xiv

Brussels 2014, The Brussels G7 Summit Declaration, para. 21

25. Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Women and Girls

“We commit to increasing the number of women and girls technically and vocationally educated and trained in developing countries through G7 measures by one third (compared to “business as usual”) by 2030”.

Elmau 2015, p. 20

26. Women’s Economic Empowerment

“We will support our partners in developing countries… to overcome discrimination, sexual harassment, violence against women and girls and other cultural, social, economic and legal barriers to women’s economic participation”.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, pp.19-20;

Taormina 2017, Leaders’ Communiqué, para. 18

Commitments VII - Governance

27. G8 Anti-Corruption Initiatives

International cooperation against corruption should be enhanced in order to achieve effective results. We are therefore committed to update G8 anticorruption initiatives and further support outreach activities and technical assistance to other countries.

L’Aquila 2009, Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future, para. 31

28. Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative

The G8 will take action to raise global standards for extractives transparency and make progress towards common global reporting standards, both for countries with significant domestic extractive industries and the home countries of large multinational extractives corporations.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, paras. 36, 38

29. G7 Partnership on Extractives Transparency

We will partner with resource rich developing countries, the private sector and civil society to strengthen capacity and increase transparency in the extractive sectors. [Partnerships will be] tailored to the needs of each country and support national development plans with the objective of improving transparency and governance in the extractive sector by 2015.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, paras. 41-42


We today announce a new initiative on Strengthening Assistance for Complex Contract Negotiations (CONNEX) to provide developing country partners with extended and concrete expertise for negotiating complex commercial contracts, focusing initially on the extractives sector, and working with existing fora and facilities to avoid duplication, to be launched in New York in June and to deliver improvements by our next meeting, including as a first step a central resource hub that brings together information and guidance.

Brussels 2014, The Brussels G7 Summit Declaration, para. 18

31. Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)

We look forward to the OECD recommendations [on addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)] and commit to take the necessary individual and collective action. We agree to work together to address base erosion and profit shifting, and to ensure that international and our own tax rules do not allow or encourage any multinational enterprises to reduce overall taxes paid by artificially shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions. The ongoing OECD work will involve continued engagement with all stakeholders, including developing countries.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, para. 24

32. Beneficial Ownership

We agree to publish national Action Plans to make information on who really owns and profits from companies and trusts available to tax collection and law enforcement agencies, for example through central registries of company beneficial ownership.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, para. 3

33. Anti-bribery

We will fully enforce our laws against bribery of foreign public officials and, consistent with national legal principles, will rigorously investigate and prosecute foreign bribery offences.

L’Aquila 2009, Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future, para. 30

34. Asset Recovery

We reiterate our previous commitments to deny safe havens to corrupt individuals and their illicitly acquired assets, and to prevent corrupt holders of public office from gaining access to the fruits of their illicit activities in our financial systems. We will strive to improve international legal cooperation in asset recovery investigations within the framework of the UNCAC, including by seeking ways to facilitate informal cooperation and supporting identification and dissemination of good practices. We will strengthen cooperation on asset recovery, including through the Stolen Asset Recovery initiative (StAR).

We continue our engagement to and support of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. We welcome the outcomes of the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery and look forward to the third Arab Forum on Asset Recovery. The G7 remains committed to working with governments and global financial centres to follow up on asset recovery efforts.

L’Aquila 2009, Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future, para. 32;

Brussels 2014, The Brussels G7 Summit Declaration, para. 20

35. Tax Capacity Building

We will continue to provide practical support to developing countries’ efforts to build capacity to collect the taxes owed to them and to engage in and benefit from changing global standards on exchange of information, including automatic exchange of information… and we will continue to provide practical support for developing countries seeking to join the Global Forum [on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes]. We each commit to continue to share our expertise, help build capacity, including by engaging in long-term partnership programmes to secure success… We will take practical steps to support [the OECD’s Tax Inspectors Without Borders] initiative, including by making tax experts available.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, paras. 27-28

36. Land Transparency

We will support greater transparency in land transactions including at early stages, and increased capacity to develop good land governance systems in developing countries. [Partnerships] will be tailored to the needs of each country and support national development plans with the objective of improving land governance and in particular transparency in land transactions by 2015. In addition, Japan and Italy are providing increased support through FAO and World Bank to support implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land in developing countries.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, paras. 44-45

37. Open Data

G8 members will, by the end of [2013], develop [Open Data] action plans, with a view to implementation of the [Open Data] Charter and technical annex by the end of 2015 at the latest.

Lough Erne 2013, G8 Leaders' Communiqué, para. 48

Commitments VIII - Peace and Security

38. Maritime Security in Africa

Support maritime security capacity development in Africa and improve the operational effectiveness and response time of littoral states and regional organizations in maritime domain awareness and sovereignty protection.

Kananaskis 2002, G8 Africa Action Plan

Sea Island 2004, 9;

Heiligendamm 2007, paras. 40, 42

L’Aquila 2009, para. 129

Muskoka 2010, Muskoka Declaration: Recovery and New Beginnings, Annex II/II

39. Formed Police Units

Increase the G8 contribution to the training of formed police units for use in peace operations. Build peace operations capabilities (including through the Africa Standby Force) by: strengthening international police operations, including through the mentoring, training and, where appropriate, equipping of police, including Formed Police Units; strengthening international deployable civilian capacities to reinforce state institutions; and advance the rule of law through deployment of experts and by building capacity within developing countries and emerging donors.

Hokkaido Toyako 2008, 71 (b)

Heiligendamm 2007, paras. 40, 42

Muskoka 2010, Muskoka Declaration: Recovery and New Beginnings, Annex II/I & II/III

40. Women, Peace and Security

We… remain committed to supporting efforts by other countries, both financially and technically to establish and implement National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security or similar gender-equality related strategies.Footnote xv

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 14

41. Crises and Conflicts in Africa

Our goal is indeed to strengthen cooperation and dialogue with African countries and regional organizations to develop African capacity in order to better prevent, respond to and manage crises and conflicts, as regards the relevant goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Taormina 2017, Leaders’ Communiqué, para. 26

Commitments IX - Environment and Energy

42. Biodiversity

We are… committed to intensifying our efforts to slow the loss of biodiversity.

Deauville 2011, Deauville G8 Declaration, para. 54

43. Energy Infrastructure in Africa

We will continue to promote inclusive and resilient growth in Africa, working with governments and citizens in Africa to… improve infrastructure, notably in the energy sector…

Brussels 2014, The Brussels G7 Summit Declaration, para. 14

44. Climate Risk Insurance

We will intensify our support particularly for vulnerable countries’ own efforts to manage climate change related disaster risk and to build resilience. We will aim to increase by up to 400 million the number of people in the most vulnerable developing countries who have access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the negative impact of climate change related hazards by 2020 and support the development of early warning systems in the most vulnerable countries. To do so we will learn from and build on already existing risk insurance facilities such as the African Risk Capacity, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility and other efforts to develop insurance solutions and markets in vulnerable regions, including in small islands developing states, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.Footnote xvi

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 13, para. a

45. Renewable Energy

We will […] Accelerate access to renewable energy in Africa and developing countries in other regions with a view to reducing energy poverty and mobilizing substantial financial resources from private investors, development finance institutions and multilateral development banks by 2020 building on existing work and initiatives.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 13, para. B

46. Marine litter

The G7 commits to priority actions and solutions to combat marine litter as set out in the annex, stressing the need to address land- and sea-based sources, removal actions, as well as education, research and outreach.

Elmau 2015, Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit, p. 14 (see also Annex, pp. 8-9)

Commitments X - Human Mobility

47. Migration and refugees

We commit to increase global assistance to meet immediate and longer-term needs of refugees and other displaced persons as well as their host communities, via humanitarian, financial, and development assistance, cooperation… (We recognize… migration management, and)… we commit to strengthen our development cooperation with our partner countries, with special attention to African, Middle East and neighbouring countries of origin and transit.Footnote xvii

Ise-Shima 2016, G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration, p. 18

48. Drivers of migration

We agree to establish partnerships to help countries create the conditions within their own borders that address the drivers of migration, as this is the best long-term solution to these challenges… we will safeguard the value of the positive aspects of a safe, orderly and regular migration.Footnote xviii

Taormina 2017, Leaders’ Communiqué, para. 25

Annex C: List of Abbreviations

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
COP 23
23rd Conference of the Parties
Development Assistance Committee
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Department for International Development
European Union
Gross Domestic Product
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
High Level Panel
Information and Communications Technology
International Development Research Centre
Official Development Assistance
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Sustainable Development Goals
Sexual and Gender Based Violence
Science, Technology, Engineering Maths, and Medicine
Technical and Vocational Education and Training
United Nations
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
United Nations Development Programme
Women’s Economic Empowerment

Annex D: List of Figures, Tables and Boxes


Figure 1: Large gender gaps in labour force (1990-2017)


Table 1: AID in support of women's economic empowerment (Indicator 1)

Table 2: AID focused on the elimination of violence against women, 2015 and 2016 (Indicator 2)


Textbox 1: Definitions of Women’s Economic Empowerment

Textbox 2: Brief History of G7/G8 commitments to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment

Textbox 3: Promoting Women’s Agency

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