Sharing knowledge to empower women in South Asia

A woman in Pakistan prepares a meal at home with her family members

IDRC/Tom Pilston

Event date:
October 10, 2017 to October 12, 2017
Colombo, Sri Lanka and Delhi, India,

Event Dates: October 10, 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka and October 12, 2017 in Delhi, India

For more than four years, research teams under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program have been studying the challenges women face in accumulating assets and pursuing better paid and more productive jobs. Now, two GrOW-supported events in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Delhi, India, will present evidence and develop concrete recommendations for action and policy to improve the lives of poor women while promoting economic growth.

For example, researchers from Harvard University and the Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan examined skills training for women. They found that distance and time away from home are among the most significant barriers to women’s participation in these programs, but in-village training or providing group transportation for women is highly effective in increasing their participation.

The team will present their findings on October 10 in Colombo at the conference “Reimagining Women’s Empowerment in South Asia: Pathways and Policies to Achieving Gender Equality”. Other issues to be addressed at the conference, organized by GrOW partners the Urban Institute (USA) and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (Sri Lanka), include improving access to high quality childcare, increasing women’s safety when accessing basic public services such as transportation, providing training to improve women’s employability in high demand sectors, and providing incentives to delay marriage in order to foster empowerment and the pursuit of economic opportunities.

Two days later, researchers will convene in Delhi to present India-specific results at the conference “Frameworks and Pathways to Women’s Economic Empowerment: Policy Implications Emerging from India GrOW Studies”. The workshop organizers — including the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, the Institute of Social Studies Trust, and the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex — will welcome participants representing government, civil society, international organizations, and donors to promote regional dialogue, learn from findings, and identify policies to foster women’s economic empowerment.

This smaller workshop and roundtable discussion will highlight the unique set of challenges that women face in participating fully and safely in the labour market. These include the responsibility for household care work, women’s access to safe and better paid jobs, better working conditions, the pressures on migrant women, and collectivization as a means of social change. Community-based daycares, which would enable women to work despite their disproportionate childcare responsibilities, will be among the strategies discussed.

GrOW is a five-year, multi-funder partnership of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and IDRC.

With a focus on low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, GrOW aims to support policies and interventions that improve women’s livelihoods and contribute to societal well-being. The program ends in early 2018.