Strengthening women's economic empowerment

Rose Uyaka Ukunda, entrepreneur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Rose Uyaka Ukunda, entrepreneur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

© African Development Bank

Gender equality and enforcing women's rights are key factors for human rights-based, socially equitable and sustainable social development. There is no country in the world in which women are entirely equal to men – and that has serious social and economic disadvantages. Across the world it is women who are responsible for doing the overwhelming majority of work, but they earn 17 per cent less than men on average. "Equal rights, equal obligations, equal opportunites and equal power for women and men" is one of the basic principles of German development policy that is founded on international agreements on women’s rights.

Even though the situation of women and girls varies greatly from region to region and from country to country, expanding their economic opportunities is key to women's empowerment. Against this backdrop, Germany is planning to launch an initiative under its G7 Presidency to strengthen women economically. The initiative focuses on vocational training for women in developing countries and improving their employment opportunities and self-employment. The BMZ helped shape the initiative and already supports its partner countries in drawing up their vocational training and labour market policies to ensure they bring women into the formal economic sector.

Results from the G7 Summit in Elmau

That is why the G7 decided at the summit in Elmau to launch an initiative on Women’s Economic Empowerment, which had been proposed by the German Presidency. The focus of the initiative is professional qualifications and entrepreneurial activity by women:

  • the number of women and girls in developing countries who have been professionally qualified is to have risen by one third by 2030. This will increase their employment opportunities and improve their participation in economic life. The BMZ is already supporting its partner countries in designing their vocational training and labour market policies in such a way as to ensure that they foster women’s economic participation.
  • By supporting the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles, the G7 is underlining the important role played by the private sector in creating an empowering environment. The Principles were launched in 2010 by UN Women and the UN Global Compact 2010. Businesses can sign up to them, thus making a commitment to empower women. With the communiqué adopted in Elmau the G7 are calling on businesses to take account of these Principles in their work.

International Conference "Economic Empowerment of Women – Unlock the Potential"

The focus of this conference which took place on 9 and 10 November in Berlin was on how the economic empowerment of women can reduce poverty and inequality and contribute to sustainable economic growth. Building on the decisions taken by the G7 regarding the economic empowerment of women in Elmau, the conference discussed ideas and approaches on how the economic empowerment of women can best be promoted and achieved worldwide. The integrated focus on "Rights, Skills, Finance and Business" highlighted the need for cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector to achieve economic empowerment of women and a reduction in gender inequality. The event was organised jointly by the BMZ and Women's World Banking.

"Equal rights, equal obligations, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men" has long been a fundamental principle of German development policy. Germany’s work in this field is guided by the international conventions on the rights of women.

Major efforts also need to be made to mainstream gender equality. The absence of equal opportunities in many parts of the world is still responsible for high levels of inequality and dependency and is a major contributor to poverty.

from the Charter for the Future "ONE WORLD – Our Responsibility"