Funding for women’s economic empowerment stagnates, despite an increase in international development funding
While funding for international development projects in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Nigeria is increasing, funding for projects targeting women’s economic empowerment has remained the same since 2015. This is one of the key findings of new research released today by Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid and development transparency, which outlines the state of funding for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Nigeria.
The findings also show that within women’s economic empowerment funding, projects aiming to improve income-earning among women, such as those supporting financial services and banking, received the least funding. Despite limited funding, these types of projects are vital to improving gender equality.
Most international grant funding for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Nigeria is from bilateral governments. According to the research, international grant funders most commonly targeted ‘Girls or adolescents’, ‘rural’, ‘poor’ and ‘vulnerable’ women with their women’s economic empowerment funding. However, a number of donors still do not report this level of data. Given that economic empowerment and access to resources are shaped by intersectional discrimination, this type of data is vital for gender advocates to know where gaps in funding are.
The research also analysed funding that targets women’s unpaid care work and the impact of COVID-19 on funding for women’s economic empowerment. Just 3% of women’s economic empowerment projects addressed women and girls’ unpaid care work. Even fewer projects explicitly included unpaid care work as an objective or outcome. The data on Covid- 19 was limited but from 2020–2021, only a small proportion of women’s economic empowerment grants had a COVID-19 component.
Sally Paxton, US Representative at Publish What You Fund, said:
“Women’s economic empowerment is key to the realisation of women’s rights and their full participation in society and the world of work, helping both to reduce poverty for all people and achieve gender equality. However, with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic implications, WEE has not only stagnated since 2020 but is in . We hope the new evidence we have gathered will help inform policy-makers, gender advocates, and donors and enable more targeted and effective investments to improve women’s economic rights.”
The new report series is based on unprecedented and innovative research from Publish What You Fund which tracked international funding between 2015 -2019 to women’s economic empowerment as well as women’s financial inclusion and women’s empowerment collectives in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Nigeria.