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‘Empower Women, Power Trade’ Initiative to Strengthen Women’s Economic Empowerment in LDCs

The new ‘Empower Women, Power Trade’ initiative from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) aims to increase the economic empowerment of 50,000 women in the world’s 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The initiative targets the socio-economic barriers to business that many women face, such as limited access to finance and inequitable laws and social norms that restrict their mobility and participation in trade. EIF’s Deputy Executive Director, Annette Ssemuwemba, officially announced the initiative on 23 March 2019 in the Creation of New Market Value by Women Entrepreneurs panel at the W20 Tokyo 2019. EIF is housed at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) member.


Adopting a holistic approach, ‘Empower Women, Power Trade’ will tackle women’s empowerment limitations by considering their livelihoods, i.e. the whole range of capabilities, assets and activities necessary for their means of living. Based on this, it will establish coordination and collaboration with LDC trade ministries to influence on policies that should improve women’s capacity to participate on and benefit from trade.

This multi-sectoral engagement to help shape policy embodies the type of synergy within the policy, financial, and institutional innovation work area identified in the Donor Platform’s commissioned study on better aligning agriculture and rural development (ARD) and aid for trade (AfT). This work area is one of four that the study has determined where both ARD and AfT can achieve greater development impact by translating SDGs 17, 1, 2, 8, 9, and 12 into action.

Indeed, greater focus on women’s economic empowerment within the agricultural sector can lead to reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience to socio-economic shocks of a historically marginalized population. ‘Empower Women, Power Trade’ also engages in two other ARD and AfT work areas: productive capacity building, value chain organization, and articulation; and the sustainable and inclusive use of available human resources.

Funding for ‘Empower Women, Power Trade’ comes from several G20 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, who have given a US$10 million investment for the initiative’s four-year duration. This is indicative of the role as investors, donors, and partners in development that the G20 intends to play in regards to closing the gender gap. The 2018 G20’s Leader’s Declaration states that gender equality is necessary for sustainable development and economic growth, and this initiative aligns with the W20’s mission of generating gender equality and improving the lives of the world’s most disadvantaged women.


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