Activities and instruments

Promoting the employment and economic empowerment of women

Employee in the control centre of the pumping station at a water project of the KfW Development Bank in Bujumbura, Burundi

In developing countries the proportion of gainfully-employed women is much lower than that of men. Women frequently do not have adequate access to the formal labour market, often on account of their low level of education. They are very often paid less than men for the same work and predominantly their jobs are not secure.

They often resort to the informal sector in their search for work and an independent income. It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of those employed in this economic sector are women.

Yet, even though most of the work they do is excluded from the official growth definition and statistics, women are key actors in many areas in their societies. In most developing countries, for example, they are responsible for producing the majority of basic foodstuffs. In addition, worldwide they do almost all the caregiving and housework within the family – which is unpaid everywhere.

Women spend a large portion of their disposable income on food and education for their children. Therefore, strengthening their economic participation directly benefits the next generation. The economic discrimination of women, therefore, not only violates their basic rights, but is also short-sighted from a macro-economic point of view.

This is why Germany is working hard around the world to boost the economic empowerment of women. The BMZ has firmly mainstreamed gender aspects in all development cooperation strategies, for example in the areas of private sector promotion, economic policy, education and vocational training, as well as information and communication technologies.

Germany promotes legal reforms in its partner countries that will lead to the elimination of gender-based discrimination against women in the economic sector. A particular priority is to improve women’s vocational training.

In order to make it easier for women to become self-employed, the BMZ, for example, promotes their access to financial products and markets. German development cooperation is also heavily involved in establishing social security systems for women and improving their working conditions.

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