The advancement of women’s rights and economic empowerment in market systems contributes to the economic well-being of families, communities, and nations. Increasingly, stakeholders from the public and private sectors as well as civil society members are raising their voices on women’s economic empowerment.

The SEEP Network, in collaboration with Forum Partners, hosted an international convening on women’s economic empowerment, focused on bringing down the systemic barriers standing in the way of scalable and sustainable change. The Forum brought together leading stakeholders in the field of women’s economic empowerment to facilitate dialogue, build global learning connections, and promote effective policy and practice to address the needs of vulnerable women all around the world.

The WEE Global Learning Forum intended to narrow the divide between best practices and informed policy decisions and aimed to explore topics that are emerging as critical constraints to women’s economic empowerment across the globe. The agenda of the Forum focused on three themes:

  • 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

Why are we talking about Women’s Economic Empowerment?

Evidence supporting the need to empower women’s economic participation is only growing by the day. Women play multifaceted roles in market systems, as smallholder farmers, employees and owners of business enterprises, clients of financial institutions, and unpaid care workers among many others.

1 & 2 – Women Deliver | 3 – World Bank  & Women Deliver

A Global Learning Platform

The Forum spanned three days and took place in Bangkok, Thailand from May 23-25, 2017. The Forum was designed to address challenges facing women’s economic empowerment by:

  • Providing a venue for global dialogue across stakeholders, disciplines, approaches and frameworks, with potential for ongoing cross-learning;
  • Promoting evidence-based research and discussion on key themes;
  • Supporting the development of enabling policy and impactful program practice; and ultimately,
  • Contributing to systems level change resulting in sustainable and scalable development outcomes for poor and marginalized women.

Naila Kabeer, renowned gender expert and esteemed author opened the conference.  Days 1 and 2 featured 4 plenary sessions, including Tech Talks, a panel on donor viewpoints and an Oxford-style debate on women’s unpaid and care work.  Gender and market systems experts also shared innovative approaches relating to the three forum themes through 24 interactive peer learning sessions.  On Day 3, leaders from the sector facilitated sessions on latest industry initiatives and the SEEP WEE Working Group met to define priority pathways for collaborative action coming out of Forum sessions.

Thought leaders and experienced practitioners in women’s economic empowerment in market systems guided the development of the conference agenda working alongside the SEEP Network’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group.

WEE Champions from 60 countries attended! See who participated >>