Work and Opportunities for Women – DFID’s data quest to support the High Level Panel on women’s economic empowerment commitments

This blog is written by Kate Cooper lead on Women’s Economic Empowerment at DFID. It is the tenth in a new blog series on women, work and economic empowerment


The economic empowerment of women and girls is central to achieving genuinely inclusive growth. No country can achieve sustained economic development if half its population is locked out of economic opportunities. Women’s economic empowerment is fundamental to human rights and has positive impacts on economic growth, firm performance and human development outcomes.

The UK was a founding member of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. In response to the Panel, DFID is working to deliver better jobs and working conditions across supply chains, increase access to finance and rights to land, and tackle legal barriers and discrimination.

We want to accelerate action on the recommendations set out by the High Level Panel (HLP) across global stakeholders. To achieve change we need more action on gender across economic decision makers. Therefore, we want to work with UK and global business to increase opportunities for women throughout their supply chains as this will be so critical to achieving long-term impact at scale. We need the data and evidence to inform and support this change.

DFID’s new Work and Opportunities for Women (WoW) programme will work with businesses in some of the poorest countries to improve job opportunities and working conditions for at least 300,000 women in global supply chains. A key activity under WOW will be to generate data on where women are in supply chains and what is the constraint to their increased participation.

The Work and Opportunities for Women (WoW) programme is DFID’s new flagship programme on women’s economic empowerment. It seeks to build on the momentum of the UN High Level Panel, growing corporate interest to improve women’s access to better work opportunities and build partnerships to deliver scalable and sustainable solutions. WoW (£12.8m over 5 years) will therefore play a critical role in delivering commitments on women’s economic empowerment in DFID’s new Economic Development Strategy. The programme is made up of three components:

  • Component 1 focuses on: identification of constraints in business supply chains to women’s economic empowerment; undertaking interventions to resolve them, and gathering data to better map women’s work in supply chains.
  • Component 2 includes a helpdesk to provide cutting edge advice which draws on international sector specific expertise. This will improve the evidence base, data and impact DFID and the rest of UK Government economic development portfolio has on economic outcomes for women.
  • Component 3 will be a small fund for selected initiatives and partnerships that can most effectively push forward the action agenda and priority recommendations set out by the HLP report.

Better data will be crucial to the success of this programme and to further improving the economic outcomes and opportunities for women. We want to understand where women are and what constraints they face to inform interventions by businesses which can replicate, scale and innovate to improve women’s economic empowerment.

WoW will be launching in October and will be developing process and criteria for all components during the next few months. We will be looking for businesses, civil society and non-government organisations to partner with and further women’s economic empowerment.

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