How can business most effectively support women’s economic empowerment, through their value chains and beyond?


(Tania Beard) #101

There is relatively less work done on the supply side to design products for women (e.g. savings vs credit, loan lengths etc.) Development Finance Institutions such as the IFC and IDB are working on more supply-side oriented strategies, to use a combination of blended finance instruments, technical assistance and regulatory reforms to “nudge” banks and other financial institutions to better serve women entrepreneurs. “Up-scaling” MFI’s to enable them to serve women-led SMEs is also a strategy that many DFI’s are exploring, with promising results.


(Jonathan Horrell) #102

You can read more about our work with CARE and other partners on women’s empowerment in cocoa communities in our Cocoa Life progress report


(Tania Beard) #103

The best results for increasing women's access to finance seem to be through coordinated demand/supply responses. Interestingly, the most promising results to date of any intervention that we have analyzed are regulatory reforms – notably our strategic assessment of IFC’s work to reform Secured Transactions Registries and Credit Bureaus have pointed to very strong gender effects. Indeed, the most compelling model we have seen across all our strategic evaluations of efforts to unlock finance for women was one that involved coordinated interventions as multiple levels: changes to the regulatory system to enable banks to accept a wider range of collateral, direct TA to financial institutions to help them to develop and deploy new financial lending products based on a wider range of collateral, and awareness raising to business owners to encourage them to take advantage of these new offerings.


(Gerry Boyle) #104

Alex - we agree - that's why CARE is looking at pulling together a detailed discussion across quite a few stakeholders to hammer our more of a common position on getting to scale for women on financial inclusion - we'll be calling you shortly!

Alex MacGillivray said:

is there a chance to dig into these topics in real depth as part of the high level panel - the ODI session on Monday and this have been great but I feel we're just getting started...


(Sumana Hussain) #105

A systemic issue that we haven’t really touched on yet is occupational segregation - the segregation of women and men’s economic activities, with women working in lower paid, less secure sectors and occupations, is a major driver of gender inequalities in economic outcomes.

Part of the answer lies in addressing unequal care work or discrimination and how this limits the types of economic activity that women choose to do – but there is also interesting evidence from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab on the role of supportive male mentors and role model women in male-dominated sectors.


(Timothy Straight) #106

A bit unsure of the correctness of me sticking my voice in here, but giving it a go. Here in Armenia, I founded Homeland Development Initiaitive Foundation specifically to tap into the biggest resource that the country has- the women. We take a skill they have, crochet, and design, manufacture and export the products to Europe and the US. A very grassroot approach. For me, such direct job creation for women is the best way to fight poverty and domestic and sexual violence. Let me know if I have a role in this discussion. Thanks! Tim


(Hannah Lee) #107

[commenting for a colleague who is traveling today]:

How do businesses ensure compliance throughout the value chain – e.g.: remuneration (wage equity, minimum or living wage), hours, safe workplaces, adequate rest, access to social protection schemes and the right to collective bargaining (i.e. respect for the fundamental principles and rights at work) as key to this discussion.

Businesses are expected to be providing this as a minimum - as a fundamental right of all employees and when we discuss what more business can do to empower women, it needs to be above and beyond this. By that I mean, we shouldn’t be seen to be negotiating below this line as though it is “extra” as anything below is a breach of women’s fundamental rights.

It may be that we can’t work with business without working in equal measure in parallel with workers themselves.

I think we also need to be careful about how NGOs spend our money within individual businesses – i.e.: working directly with businesses (sometimes multinational highly profitable garment factories / beer sellers) means we are spending tax payer dollars to develop their policy environment for them – we are subsidising them for a commitment they’ve already made to their government and their workers under their operating arrangements. If we do work with these highly profitable business, we might need to 1/ find ways to get them to contribute financial and 2/ make some connection between the individual business and broader industry changes (e.g. by implementing these initiatives through ministries of labour, unions, labour protection units, chambers of council etc. or by developing them on the understanding that they are pilots to demonstrate their benefits (worker safety/ business profit).


(georgie) #108

In relation to Q4, as part of our community investment, Diageo’s Plan W and Banking on Women (BoW) programme gives women in China’s rural Ningxia region, skills in business and household finances to enable them to make responsible and informed financial decisions and increase their access to financial loans. After a three year pilot, the case study ‘Banking on Women: Financial Education in Rural China’ in partnership with Positive planet, has found that the project supports social and economic mobility for women in a part of China known for comparatively restrictive local culture and customs. Over 8000 participants were taught skills in managing their business and household finances, enabling them to make responsible and informed financial decisions. This in turn increases their social status in the household and community.

In addition to standard in-classroom training and peer training, BoW piloted a direct, digital content sharing component similar to China’s popular WeChat texting app, which was hugely successful in offering different tools, methods, and channels to convey important financial concepts to reach less-educated, remote, and often traditional women groups. The programme promoted attitude change toward both financial concepts and women’s role in society concluding that when women are supported with targeted strong financial capability, changes in identity and the household role can lead to powerful empowerment.


(georgie) #109

Fully agree Alex - much more to be unearthed in terms of recommendations / potential solutions

Alex MacGillivray said:

is there a chance to dig into these topics in real depth as part of the high level panel - the ODI session on Monday and this have been great but I feel we're just getting started...


(Sabine Samarawickrema) #110

Dear all, thank you for this interesting discussion; from my work as a consultant on sustainable development focusing on sustainable supply chains I have learned that it is important to include women into supply chains as respected part of that chain, and treat them with respect and not as "poor or victims" as it happens unfortunately in many countries; there are best practices where businesses work together with small scale farmers for instance where the farmers subscribe to 10 year contracts committing the business to buy from them (for example in the case of biomass supply in Sri Lanka); they get paid a fair price, trained and have to comply with a no cash policy, meaning they have to open a bank account to receive their payments, they have to use organic fertilizer etc. They have responsibilities and benefits, more than for instance through usual development aid projects, they are integrated fully and know that without their commitment there is no supply of biomass for this large scale business; in addition they can explore additional opportunities on intercropping with food trees and supply to another company which collaborates with the biomass company; by having a bank account, being registered and having a long term contract they have a sustainable income and can explore loan possibilities for example to improve their housing; they can support their families themselves, and are not reliant on outside aid;

in another example from Sri Lanka, the cinnamon industry which heavily relies on small scale farmers, the same can be observed; once the company enteres a contract with the peelers (which in this case are whole families), respect of their profession and recognition of their role within the supply chain is essential. it is reflected monetary but also in social aspects;

happy to hear your comments on best practices from other countries

this is just one example,


(Kelly Lavelle) #111

Thank you Gerry and Tania and Kelly Lavelle here. I am in the process of launching ElleSolaire, a women-centred Senegal based social entreprise for last mile distribution of solar technologies - the potential 'backlash' in rural communities is a primary concern I have in designing our programme and would ask if you have specific examples on effective ways to mitigate against it?



Tania Beard said:

Gerry that's such a key point. What we've seen is if the focus is on economic empowerment alone, without consideration of the power dynamics at the community and household level, you can end up with a backlash. The design of the economic empowerment programme needs to be broad and deliberate about this.

Gerry Boyle said:

Another point which we are very aware of is that if investments are made in women and their output increases in productivity and therefore value, there is a risk that men step in and increasingly take over ownership of the output. So we do need to be working on men’s and community attitudes to ensure women retain some control over the value they create.


(Arjan de Haan) #112

Indeed Alex. There is growing evidence that single-sector interventions do not have a sustained (growth) impact. As women face multiple constraints, this should not be a surprise. But this does have repercussions for efforts to go to scale.

Alex MacGillivray said:

Everyone is focused on access to finance, rightly, but access to electricity, sanitation, connectivity and mobility are equally important for women. We need to be more joined up.


(Shadrack Agaki) #113

Lavelle, I hear your concern, i am from Kenya after working for a political office close to four years i can say something on your fears for a backlash from the community where you want to establish your enterprise.

First, Lavelle before you commence implementing the enterprise, try and find influential women, help them to understand what is in it for them and the community. once you get them,

Secondly, empower opinion sharpers to speak to their members on the benefits of your enterprise.

through my experience, even though political establishment that exist in most of our African countries which i believe will initiate the backlash; they will not affect your enterprise if you have the blessings of the community.


(Gerry Boyle) #114

Tim

Hi - hopefully you will pick this up although we;re in the middle of the sessions. You certainly do have a role to play in this discussion. Interestingly,there is a Bangladesh example which is similar to this of working with women in local villages who have traditional seamstress skills, and using them with designers to provide top end product to European luxury goods companies. It adds the further impact of working with local farmers to grow high quality indigo - see more here: http://www.livingbluebd.com/

Timothy Straight said:

A bit unsure of the correctness of me sticking my voice in here, but giving it a go. Here in Armenia, I founded Homeland Development Initiaitive Foundation specifically to tap into the biggest resource that the country has- the women. We take a skill they have, crochet, and design, manufacture and export the products to Europe and the US. A very grassroot approach. For me, such direct job creation for women is the best way to fight poverty and domestic and sexual violence. Let me know if I have a role in this discussion. Thanks! Tim


(Gerry Boyle) #115

Kelly - CARE's approach to such issues is to have embedded a "gender transformation" approach in our process for supporting the development of savings groups. This uses the formation of the group and the change in women's ability to save and borrow as a key opportunity to engage directly with husbands/partners and the wider community around gender roles and expectations. We are very aware that as women start to become empowered their risk of GBV increases. However we have found that this structured broad engagement with those around the women directly involved pays dividends in attitudinal change (see for instance this blog:http://bit.ly/1TlNXpU That's a major reason why we would like to see the WEE HLP develop commitments to make gender transformative savings groups available to ALL women

Kelly Lavelle said:

Thank you Gerry and Tania and Kelly Lavelle here. I am in the process of launching ElleSolaire, a women-centred Senegal based social entreprise for last mile distribution of solar technologies - the potential 'backlash' in rural communities is a primary concern I have in designing our programme and would ask if you have specific examples on effective ways to mitigate against it?



Tania Beard said:

Gerry that's such a key point. What we've seen is if the focus is on economic empowerment alone, without consideration of the power dynamics at the community and household level, you can end up with a backlash. The design of the economic empowerment programme needs to be broad and deliberate about this.

Gerry Boyle said:

Another point which we are very aware of is that if investments are made in women and their output increases in productivity and therefore value, there is a risk that men step in and increasingly take over ownership of the output. So we do need to be working on men’s and community attitudes to ensure women retain some control over the value they create.


(Lara Bianchi) #116

On behalf of Prof. Stephanie Barrientos, The University of Manchester - Global Development Institute

The High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment could be an important catalyst, since it brings together actors from key institutions, including representatives from governments, World Bank, the UN, NGOs, as well as business. The role of business it is a dimension not sufficiently explored regarding its impacts on WEE.

People often talk of increasing WEE through ‘increasing access to markets’. However, the world increasingly works through Global Value Chains, which link firms across all stages of production, distribution and retail. OECD, WTO and UNCTAD estimated that approximately 70% of the world trade now passes through Global Value Chains, in which women play key roles in many segments.

For example, globally it is estimated that 350 million people work in cotton-apparel value chains, including farming, textiles, manufacture and distribution. In this scenario, women play key roles as:

  • seasonal workers and farmers in cotton farming – often without land ownership, insufficient credit and difficulties accessing markets;
  • homeworkers in lower tiers of value chain, with insufficient rights and protection;
  • they constitute approximately 70-80% of garment workers in factories (e.g. in Bangladesh).

Lead companies are becoming increasingly concerned about the social and economic resilience of their supply chains, particularly given a rising demand in emerging economies and environmental pressures. But an effective change on the ground seems too slow. My research indicates that Global Value Chains can actually be a lever for change. In fact, if companies in value chains are mobilized, there will be implications for millions of women across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

More than 1,000 companies have signed up to the un women empowerment principles, and committed more than us$300 million to promoting women’s economic empowerment.

Both governments and multinational companies are also engaging in UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (that has identified supply chains as a focus) and are actively considering their role in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Donors, Governments, Civil Society Organisations long promoted gender equality and have a key role to play in WEE – but they also need to bring in business, not through ‘markets’ alone but more strategically through value chains than can be lever for a real change.


(Hester le Roux) #117

Thanks Lara (and please thank Prof Barrientos for her contribution) - I was wondering whether you could provide a link to some of Prof Barrientos' recent research on gender and value chains? I'm sure many participants in this discussion would be interested in learning more about her research findings.


(Gianluca Nardi) #118

Hi Gerry, I've just joined the discussion from Brazil. Happy to see that you'e mentioned GBV as this is a major obstacle for WEE in rural value chains. This blog talks about the specific example of the coffee VC in PNG http://tiny.cc/grslby. VSLAs can be very good platforms to promote change at household level. In PNG CARE used the so called Family Business Management Training, a tool to involve the whole household in a new way of defining gender roles for women have greater control over productive resources and income while men support in domestic tasks and generates an improves level of welfare for the family. It proved to be a pretty effective strategy in bringing men on board around the mutual advantages of having more empowered women supporting coffee production.


(Hester le Roux) #119

Welcome to the second session of our live chat about How business can support Women’s Economic Empowerment through value chains and beyond. (Click here to view the discussion during the first session).

I’m Hester le Roux, Challenge Director at Business Fights Poverty and I’ll be moderating the session. We're joined by another great panel to help us understand what business is already doing to support women’s empowerment, and what more can be done to achieve scale and impact. In terms of the format for this one hour live session, we will work our way through the four questions set out in the introduction above. Click Reply under a question or comment to add your thoughts. And please do feel free to put your own questions to our panel by typing in the comments box above. (You'll need to sign in or sign up to do this).

You'll see a feed of comments in the right hand column of this page, with a notification of new messages appearing regularly at the top. Click refresh in your browser, or via the link in the introduction, to display all the new comments, in time order, below.

Before we begin, I'd like to ask each our our panellists to introduce themselves.


(Gerry Boyle) #120

Hi I am Gerry Boyle I am representing CARE International - a global humanitarian and development agency working in 80 countries, with a strong commitment to women’s economic empowerment and a target of supporting the economic empowerment of 30 million women by 2020. Our key areas for doing this are financial inclusion, value chains, decent work and entrepreneurs. We know that within economic empowerment we really need to change the social norms and expectations that hold women back. And we know, from working with companies such as Barclays, GSK and Mondelez, that business can really make a difference.