IDRC and the UK Department of International Development (DFID) convened an expert meeting in January 2012, hosted by the Department of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
In preparation for the international expert meeting, IDRC commissioned Naila Kabeer, a professor at SOAS, to review existing research on women’s economic empowerment. The goal: inform a new global DFID-IDRC research initiative. A social economist, Kabeer specializes in poverty, social exclusion, and gender in relation to labour markets and livelihood strategies.
Towards a research agenda
Kabeer concluded that while gender equality in the labour market can contribute directly to economic growth, economic growth does not always promote gender equality. Some of the fastest growing developing countries show the slowest progress on basic gender equality indicators.
Economic empowerment eludes women because they lack access to quality jobs and educational opportunities. Research on barriers to economic opportunities for women and their potential impact will generate new insights and options to inform policies aimed at promoting inclusive growth in the world’s developing economies.
The paper, Women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth: labour markets and enterprise development explores a research agenda focusing on the factors that determine women’s participation in and impact on the labour market.
Key discussion questions include:
- What are the precise barriers and blockages to women’s mobility, as wage earners, to better jobs or women’s transition, as entrepreneurs, to enterprises that add more value to products and therefore generate more income?
- What changes are likely to ease the constraints on women’s labour market options? What forms of collective action around gender issues can drive positive change, at transnational, national, and local levels?