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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Promoting Women's Economic Participation


A number of studies over the past few years have shown that gender equality is "smart economics." The untapped potential of women remains a lost opportunity for economic growth and development the world can ill afford. Women’s economic participation promotes agricultural productivity, enterprise development at the micro, small, and medium enterprise levels, as well as enhances business management and returns on investment.

In addition to boosting economic growth, investing in women produces a multiplier effect – women reinvest a large portion of their income in their families and communities. Women also play key roles in creating peaceful and stable societies –important factors for economic growth. Unfortunately, these benefits have not been universally recognized and have therefore not translated into women’s full economic participation. Women still face obstacles when trying to establish new businesses or expand existing ones. Among the biggest hurdles are discriminatory laws, regulations and business conditions, as well as women’s lack of access to property rights, finance, training, technology, markets, mentors, and networks.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

Investments to advance women’s economic opportunity include:

  • Financial Inclusion: Support efforts to increase women’s access to quality financial services, such as credits, savings, insurance, and payment systems through better regulation, technology, and financial literacy.
  • Women and Agriculture: Highlight women’s vital role in advancing agricultural development and food security, and encourage policy and programmatic support for female farmers and agricultural businesses owned by women.
  • Enterprise Growth: Support NGOs, industry associations, and corporations advocating for policy and programmatic solutions that enable women’s economic participation, including reforming discriminatory laws and practices that hinder access to capital, land tenure, and inheritance rights, and encouraging a policy climate conducive to the growth of women-run SMEs.
  • Technology Access: Close the gender gap in access to mobile phones, the Internet, and other vital technologies by addressing cultural, financial, educational, and motivational barriers.
  • Capacity Building: Provide capacity building, training, and mentoring programs to women and girls and equip them with market information, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the necessary skills to attain economic independence, for example, through our Pathways to Prosperity and African Women Entrepreneurs Program.
  • Business Leadership: Encourage best practices to increase women’s representation in senior management positions, including on corporate boards.
  • Data Collection: Promote the collection and alignment of gender-sensitive data in the economic sector to create evidence-based policy and programs aimed at increasing women’s economic participation across all sectors.


-10/15/14   WEAmericas: Women's Entrepreneurship in the Americas [Get Acrobat Reader PDF version   ]
-09/23/14  Remarks at U.S. Agency for International Development's Event on "PROMOTE: Join Us to Empower Afghan Women";  Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine M. Russell; New York City
-09/11/14  Along the Margins of the World Assembly for Women (WAW!);  Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine M. Russell; METLIFE "Shine Week Event"; Washington, DC
-07/28/14  Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Africa; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-07/26/14  The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women Peace Through Business;  Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine M. Russell; Graduation Video Message; Washington, DC
-05/22/14  U.S. Statement at the High Level Policy Dialogue 2014 APEC Women and the Economy Forum;  Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine M. Russell; Beijing, China
-05/06/14  International Exchange Connects Women Entrepreneurs in the Americas; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-02/20/14  Keynote Remarks at the Launch of the World Bank's Gender at Work Report;  Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine M. Russell; Washington, DC

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