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Expanding Economic Opportunities for Women: What Works?

=One thing we have learned from working with developing nations over many years is that efforts to increase the economic participation of women yield tremendous positive impacts in subsequent generations. This fact is supported by decades of research of emerging economies.

The challenge, then, is figuring out how to go about expanding opportunities for women. What are the most effective avenues to pursue? Since ExxonMobil makes community investments all over the world designed to help create stable operating environments, we have an interest in knowing what works.

Those questions were at the heart of a joint-research project recently undertaken by the United Nations Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation.

The report we just issued, A Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment, helps to close the knowledge gap about which efforts are most likely to empower women.

The Roadmap identifies specific interventions to promote women’s economic empowerment around the world. These range from promoting the use of savings accounts and mobile phones to providing seed capital and access to childcare. “Providing equal economic opportunities for women is an issue of fairness,” notes U.N. Foundation president Kathy Calvin. “It is also smart development strategy.”

Critically, the researchers looked at a variety of scenarios and considered differences among women in terms of their age and economic profiles. They also made distinctions based on the complex differences among different developing nations, adding to the usefulness and applicability of the report.

To learn more about the genesis of this study, set aside a few minutes for this video conversation with Mayra Buvinic, the U.N. Foundation senior fellow who served as the report’s lead author.

I encourage everyone to study the report in depth. Its details provide a framework for selecting and implementing programs to advance women’s economic opportunities that can be used by corporate funders, NGOs and governments alike.

They also demonstrate why ExxonMobil and the ExxonMobil Foundation have invested so much on this vital area – more than $60 million in the past eight years to support the economic advancement of women.

After all, as Mayra states, “When women are empowered economically, the rates of poverty go down and the rates of economic growth go up.”

This article originally appeared on ExxonMobil Perspectives.

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