Written by: Lucy Cater (CSIRO)
In May, the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Global Learning Forum, convened by SEEP, was held in Bangkok. The forum attracted over 350 gender champions representing public and private sectors, academia, and civil society organisations across 60 countries. The forum focused on key themes central to SIAGI including: women’s empowerment on and off-farm; women’s financial inclusion for improving gender equality; and enterprise development for women.
A common thread during the forum was the influence of non-economic factors on the success of women’s empowerment strategies. Structural barriers for women including a lack of mobility, poor literacy and the burden of unpaid care work (including domestic work) present unique challenges for improving WEE.
Poorly targeted financial products and services which do not take into account women’s changing financial needs during their life cycle was also identified as a worrying trend. A lack of consideration for how women wish to use financial services as well as whether women have access to such services was identified as key to meaningful financial inclusion.
A number of innovative programs which aimed to improve women’s participation and success in enterprise development was showcased, each revealing the critical importance of tailoring programs to local conditions and local needs.
The SEEP network – Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems – hosts an extensive network and resource centre available at http://www.seepnetwork.org/