IDRC contributes evidence to UN panel on empowering women
IDRC’s Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program is playing a key role in the United Nations’ first ever high-level panel for women’s economic empowerment, created in January, 2016. GrOW organized three consultations to feed into the panel’s first report, to be presented on September 22, 2016.
GrOW gathered and synthesized evidence about effectively fostering female entrepreneurship, enhancing the productivity of women-owned enterprises, and addressing women’s role in the “care economy”— caring for children, the elderly, and the sick. Two consultations about the care economy, carried out in collaboration with GrOW partners Oxfam and the Institute of Development Studies, indicated that we are on the brink of a care crisis. To prevent it, care work needs to be recognized as a skilled activity that contributes to development, and time and labour saving equipment will need to be improved to reduce the burden and increase the quality of care.
Key lessons also emerged from the consultation about entrepreneurship. In addition to challenges encountered by any entrepreneur, women face additional barriers due to gender discrimination, including the unequal burden of care, lack of legal protection, and restrictive socio-cultural norms. These constraints limit women’s borrowing and lending choices and hinder their growth prospects. However, networks of women, such as business associations, and a combination of interventions—ranging from training to the use of technology—can help female entrepreneurs.
IDRC grantee Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO of WEConnect International, is one of 20 members on the UN panel representing government, private sector, academia, and multilateral organizations. The panel will make action-oriented recommendations for governments, businesses, civil societies, and development partners to work together to improve economic outcomes for women and girls.