Why women’s economic empowerment matters

Development succeeds when women have equal access to property, capital, education, and markets. The talent pool expands, innovation and trade accelerate, and economies do better when women actively engage in the formal workforce, especially as entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders. Working women reinvest their earnings into the health and education of their families, establishing virtuous cycles of empowerment.


Strengthening conditions for women’s economic empowerment, including through the promotion of gender equality at home and work, is fundamental to Nathan’s international activities. In areas as diverse as agriculture, entrepreneurship, transportation, trade, and innovation, our specialists are at the forefront of women’s inclusion as a condition of making economies work better.


We start with the data. We build solid indicators for both assessing women’s ability to participate in the marketplace and monitoring their progress. Beyond numbers, and ever mindful of historical and cultural context, we apply our expertise to integrating gender into entrepreneurship, workforce development, and trade initiatives. We support capacity-building and marketing networks for women. We advise. We connect. We train.


Nathan implements evidence-based, sustainable programs to increase women’s workforce participation and improve workplace conditions for women. Through data frameworks, in-depth gender analyses and country-level assessments, economic impact assessments, and pilots, Nathan works with private sector partners, governments, and civil society organizations to provide opportunities for women as employees. We conduct global research on how laws and regulations limit or enable women to enter, remain, and advance in the formal sector workforce, including restricting employment of women, requiring occupational licenses, addressing employment discrimination, prohibiting and addressing sexual harassment, and enabling parents to work. Under the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative, Nathan has developed tools to equip governments and businesses in addressing health barriers to women’s workforce participation, including workplace health and safety, health awareness and access, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and work/life balance. 


Nathan has launched several tools that use the power of data to identify and address barriers to women’s economic empowerment. The Women and the Economy Dashboard assembles 82 indicators on the economic status of women in APEC’s 21-member economies, covering access to capital and assets; access to markets; skills, capacity-building and health; leadership, voice, and agency; and innovation and technology. 


The underrepresentation of women in particular sectors significantly hinders global sustainable economic growth. Nathan developed the APEC Women in Transportation data framework and the APEC Women in STEM framework for benchmarking and tracking the participation and influence of women as consumers of transportation and as professionals in transportation and STEM-related fields. The frameworks identify actions to mitigate barriers and strengthen women’s participation in these fields and provide indicators for tracking desired outcomes. We are also identifying and analyzing constraints to women’s access to economic opportunities in the energy sector in Nepal, Kosovo, and Senegal. 


We integrate gender considerations into trade capacity-building activities around the world. In Egypt, we helped women-owned food-processing enterprises access international markets through technical assistance in branding and marketing, preparing them to maximize opportunities from international trade shows. In Asia, the GREAT Women initiative helped woman-owned enterprises gain access to regional and global markets and protect their goods from illegal copying and sales. In Cote d’Ivoire, we analyzed constraints and opportunities for women to participate in cross-border trade for the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Compact program. 


Nathan focuses on evaluating the ecosystem for women business owners and recommending areas for targeted investment. For the Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC (WE-APEC) initiative, we reviewed how women entrepreneurs in APEC economies are served, supported, and strengthened through business networks, private-sector initiatives, and government services. Today, WE-APEC.com is a dynamic resource for woman-owned enterprises across the Asia-Pacific region. 


Nathan invests in thought-leadership and the promotion of global best practices on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. We design events, workshops, and webinars, develop resources, and facilitate meaningful connections and collaboration amongst stakeholders. Nathan co-facilitates the SEEP Network’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group, which seeks to facilitate inclusive, empowering and sustainable services to women worldwide.  


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