Women's Empowerment Programs

Women comprise half of the world’s population, perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, and constitute between 60 and 80 percent of the manufacturing workforce in developing countries. In addition, women business owners make up the majority of entrepreneurs in the informal sector and a large share of the micro-enterprise sector. Yet, despite their extraordinary contributions to socio-economic development, women continue to be marginalized in many countries around the world. The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) views women’s empowerment through the prism of building linkages between educational, political, civic, and economic empowerment, where civil society organizations become a leading force to remove barriers and empower women to shape the future of their own countries.

CIPE’s approach to women’s empowerment is guided by a simple principle: women’s empowerment should not be driven by simply bestowing or extending power to women. To be truly empowered, women must develop their power base, advocate for reform, and exert their own leadership to change their countries’ political, cultural, and economical environment.

Women's Empowerment Programs at CIPE

Through its programs and international partnerships, CIPE works with women in these areas:

  • Build the capacity of women’s business associations to advocate for reforms.
  • Strengthen institutions that support the participation of women in the economy such as property rights and rule of law.
  • Educate women entrepreneurs on business management and representation.
  • Reduce barriers to entry such as gender-biased laws and legal discrimination.

Women's Programs in Action

Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry has successfully advocated for a number of local and national level policy changes regarding access to credit for women entrepreneurs. Due to these reforms, women obtained loans totalling more than $23 million benefiting 3,000 women entrepreneurs who are responsible for the creation of 20,000 new jobs.

Pakistan: CIPE and its partners worked to reform the National Trade Organizations Ordinance, which improved women’s representation on chamber boards and allowed women to form their own associations. To date more than 2,000 members have joined eight women’s chambers throughout the country and nearly 80 women hold executive positions in major chambers and associations.

Zimbabwe: Through its partnership with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, CIPE supported the establishment of the Women Alliance of Business Associations in Zimbabwe. With technical assistance from CIPE, the coalition, consisting of 16 women’s associations, advocates for policy reform on behalf of 16,000 women entrepreneurs and has contributed to a number of initiatives to increase women’s economic and political roles, such as the government’s Broad Based Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework of 2012.

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