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Expanding women’s access to quality employment opportunities and productive assets benefits them, their families, and their communities. CGD research examines micro-level interventions such as savings and business training for women, and identifies system-level policies that governments and the private sector could implement to unlock the huge economic potential of women and girls, equal and empowered.
“Women’s economic empowerment” has suddenly become the talk of the town, whether that town is Antalya, Davos, or Washington. But will all of the recent high-level talk be backed up by meaningful action? And how do we ensure that actions taken are grounded in evidence? Here we explore women’s economic empowerment as a trend gaining traction and how to make sure that the trend becomes timeless.
A number of countries worldwide have laws that specifically discriminate against women’s participation in the workforce, including bans on particular occupations, restrictions on opening bank accounts or taking jobs without a male family member’s authority, and restrictions on travel. Such discriminatory laws are associated with considerably lower female labor force participation and with negative consequences for economic growth and sustainable development. They also contradict globally accepted norms and values on gender equality in the workplace.
Using the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act as a model, our proposal encourages US firms based abroad to mitigate the impact of discriminatory laws, and in doing so allow women to better access employment and participate fully in the workforce.
The same ideals that guided America’s earliest women of courage now lead our country into the world to combat the dehumanization of women in every form. We will not accept that women and girls are sold into modern-day slavery. We will not accept that women and girls are denied an education. We will not accept so-called honor killings, and we’ll do everything that we can to end forced early marriages. And we will work to improve health-care opportunities for all women so that they can help to build a more hopeful future for themselves and for their own children.