In this policy brief, we summarize the findings of a CGD working paper, Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in the COVID-19 Context. We explore the impacts of the crisis on women’s economic opportunities and outcomes, document the extent to which governments and donors are taking action to respond to these impacts, and make recommendations for how decision-makers can elevate women’s economic empowerment as a priority in response and recovery efforts.
Women own a large and growing proportion of businesses in Indonesia, estimated at over half of all micro, small, and medium enterprises. However, women’s economic outcomes are not equal to those of men.
In 1995 India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali—a women-owned and -run social enterprise. With support from key partners, Gitanjali has generated social value, providing its members with safe and dignified work while increasing their earnings. While Gitanjali faces challenges in becoming a fully self-sufficient social enterprise, its experience offers insights for other initiatives seeking to provide opportunities for women to transition from informal to formal work.
Women’s economic empowerment is increasingly recognized as critical to achieving development outcomes around the world. Informed by a roundtable discussion at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and additional suggestions from CGD researchers, this four-point memo aims to issue practical proposals for the next US administration, particularly aimed at economically empowering women and girls worldwide, as a building block toward the full realization of broader gender equality and women’s agency and empowerment. The recommendations build on those in CGD’s The White House and the World briefing book, as well as the CGD policy memo “A US Law or Executive Order to Combat Gender Apartheid in Discriminatory Countries” and ongoing work at CGD focused on women’s financial inclusion.