The elimination of gender inequalities and the empowerment of women and girls will accelerate the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Evidence shows that women’s economic empowerment raises economic productivity, reduces infant and maternal mortality, improves nutrition, promotes health, increases the chances of education for future generations and advances women’s rights. To accelerate progress in the years ahead, we must recognize women as vital agents of change and remove the barriers, including their disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, to their full economic potential.
Fostering the full participation of women in local economic development and entrepreneurship requires overcoming entrenched discriminatory attitudes and stereotypes and challenging existing inequitable historical, social and economic structures. Support is needed for both national and local governments and the private sector to design, plan, implement and sustain local public and private investments with a particular emphasis on unlocking barriers to women’s economic empowerment.
The Inclusive and Equitable Local Development Programme (IELD) is a joint UNCDF, UNDP and UN Women initiative, which aims to remove or reduce the structural impediments (i.e. infrastructure, access to financial services, etc.) that prevent them from entering the labour market. This will be done by unlocking domestic capital for public and private gender-responsive infrastructure projects, which can have a transformative impact on women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. IELD uses the “One UN” approach which strategically leverages three agencies’ niche and comparative advantages in programming on gender equality and women’s empowerment.