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

Women’s equal participation in economic and working life contributes to a country’s sustainable development. That is because women invest 90 per cent of their income in the education, health and care of their families (men invest 30 per cent). Promoting women’s economic participation thus has a direct impact on the next generation.

Legally and socially disadvantaged

Around the world women’s labour market participation is significantly lower than men’s. Women face numerous legal and social obstacles when seeking access to the formal labour market.

In order to earn an income of their own, women are more likely than men to work in the informal sector. Their work is not recorded in economic statistics, and no legal and social safeguards apply, for instance as regards maximum permissible working hours and the statutory minimum wage. In addition, women working in the informal sector are not entitled to social protection services such as maternity benefits.

One important cornerstone of gender equality is financial independence. It provides women with better protection against exploitation, oppression and disregard for their rights. It is also easier for women to escape violent relationships if they are able to feed themselves and their children.

German activities

Germany is working hard around the world to boost the economic empowerment of women in order to overcome cultural, social and legal obstacles to women's economic participation. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has firmly mainstreamed gender-specific aspects in all development cooperation strategies, for example in the areas of private sector promotion, economic policy, education and vocational training, and 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. In order to make it easier for women to become self-employed, the BMZ, for example, promotes their access to financial products. German development cooperation is also a driving force when it comes to establishing social protection systems for women and improving their working conditions.

A particular focus of German measures in this area is improving women’s vocational training. During Germany’s presidency of the G7 in 2015 an initiative on women’s economic empowerment was launched which aims to increase access to vocational training for women and girls by one third by 2030. Working together with partner countries, Germany is aiming to eliminate legal, social and cultural discrimination, improve the conditions for women’s employment and enhance engagement with the private sector.

Detailed information about German activities in regard to economic development, growth and employment can be found here.

BMZ glossary

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