While barriers to women’s empowerment exist in nearly all countries, in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), they are especially pronounced as they are exacerbated by the broader constraints of poverty and vulnerability to a range of shocks.
Defined by the UN as “low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development,” LDCs are extremely vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks. LDCs also face constraints in infrastructure and local government resourcing that impede their ability to cope with those vulnerabilities. This makes gender equality especially important in LDCs as WEE can help to build resilience and manage risks and shocks prevalent in these environments. Yet the conditions of poverty also exacerbate gender inequalities. Too little attention has been paid to this topic, and in particular there is a gap in innovations to effectively finance and resource WEE in LDCs.
The paper builds on the work undertaken by UN Capital Development Fund to increase local investments and expand fiscal space for gender responsive local economic development and local government finance. Along with UNCDF work, the paper highlights experiences of major partners active in gender lens investing and SME financing. UNCDF’s experiences underline the central role of the local partners including local governments and private sector for leveraging local investments and promoting a conducive environment that allows women to take full advantage of local economic opportunities.