The business case for women’s economic empowerment

Publication Subtitle

An integrated approach

Publication year


Publication Author

ICRW, Oak Foundation, Dalberg and Witter Ventures

In recent years, amidst increased awareness that empowering women yields a ‘high return on investment’, a growing number of companies have collectively invested more than $300 million and launched dozens of programs to support women’s economic empowerment.

Commissioned by the Oak Foundation, the International Center for Research on Women and Dalberg Global Development Advisors set out to create a better understanding of corporate-funded women’s economic empowerment programs – what works and what does not – and make the case for how such programs can increase benefits for both women and for companies.

Researchers found that corporations need to do more to address barriers that hinder women’s economic advancement. The majority of corporate-funded programs aim to build women’s economic status by expanding employment opportunities, providing business training and making loans or credit more available. However, for a woman to be economically empowered, she needs more than skills and opportunities.

The new report presents the study’s findings and includes an integrated framework that the private sector can adopt to increase return on investment and enhance women’s economic advancement.  The integrated approach is based on a human rights framework that focuses on the broader conditions necessary for women to prosper economically, including reproductive control, safety from violence, freedom of movement and childcare – as well as business training, financial support and employment opportunities.