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Rapport: Building Effective Women's Empowerment Strategies

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The business community’s motivation and ambition to advance women’s economic empowerment is greater than ever. More than 1,000 business leaders have signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, committing to empower women in the workplace, marketplace, and community. Despite this, progress has been too slow at a time when the importance of women to business and the risks of limiting their participation in the economy are growing at a rapid pace.

This working paper aims to help companies build effective strategies for women’s economic empowerment by applying a holistic and integrated approach: “Holistic” in considering the broader conditions necessary for women’s advancement and “integrated” in leveraging the full set of business assets a company can deploy. This approach builds on a growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of addressing systemic and structural barriers to gender equality for women to achieve their full economic potential.

This report draws on insights gathered from interviews with 10 multinational companies actively engaged in advancing women’s economic empowerment as well as a comprehensive review of the latest literature and leading company practices and programs. While it focuses on opportunities for multinational companies in four industry sectors, many of the lessons are relevant across a range of industries and companies.

This report brings together the collective knowledge and expertise of BSR, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), and the Oak Foundation and our combined decades of experience implementing and assessing women’s empowerment programs in partnership with companies. It also expands upon and deepens analysis previously conducted by Dalberg Global Development Advisors and ICRW, which was also sponsored by the Oak Foundation.

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