The SEEP Network is hosting an international convening on women’s economic empowerment and the fundamental systemic barriers that stand in the way of scalable and sustainable change. The forum will bring together leading stakeholders in the field of women’s economic empowerment in order to facilitate dialogue, build global learning connections, and promote effective practice and policy to address the needs of very poor and marginalized women around the world. The convening aims to explore topics that are emerging as critical constraints for large numbers of women in key economic areas: agriculture development, enterprise growth / job creation, and inclusive finance. Systemic barriers affecting women’s access and agency such as social norms, unpaid care work, access to skills and education, and legal and regulatory constraints will be considered across all thematic areas. The ultimate goal and frame of the convening will focus on how we can contribute to systemic shifts that help women to realize sustainable economic empowerment across sectors.
Over the past several years, there has been increasing evidence regarding the importance of women’s economic participation in market systems as smallholder farmers, employees and owners of enterprises, and clients of financial institutions, among others. This realization revolves around concern for both the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality, as well as for the economic well-being of families, communities, sectors and nations. Increasingly, diverse stakeholders from public, private and civil society sectors are focusing on women’s economic empowerment, and we are moving from conceptual ideas to proven practice that can inform policy. Market systems approaches are innovating new approaches, creating practical tools, and gaining experience about the empowerment of women. In parallel, research initiatives are unpacking the issues around the successful integration and empowerment of women in market systems programs. Despite these advances, there are still significant challenges to creating systems change for sustainability and scale.
The objectives of the Global Learning Forum on women’s economic empowerment in market systems are to:
- Provide a venue for global dialogue across stakeholders, disciplines, approaches and frameworks, with potential for ongoing cross-learning;
- Promote evidence-based research and discussion on key themes;
- Support the development of enabling policy and impactful program practice; and ultimately,
- Contribute to systems level change resulting in sustainable and scalable development outcomes for very poor and marginalized women.
The forum will span three days and be located outside of North America and Europe in order to promote global participation. The three days of the agenda will involve both thematic discussions on current topics and breakout sessions for specific stakeholder groups and approaches. The forum is being organized and hosted by the SEEP Network in collaboration with key industry stakeholders. Thought leaders and experienced practitioners in women’s economic empowerment in market systems are guiding the development of the conference agenda working alongside the SEEP Network’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group.
The key themes that are emerging as a priority for the forum include
- ‘Economic’ versus ‘Non-Economic’ Empowerment: A False Dichotomy?
- The Rural Poor: Women’s Empowerment on and off the Farm
- Employment Opportunities through Enterprise Development and Job Creation
- Women’s Financial Inclusion: Leveraging Finance to Advance Women’s Empowerment