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Womens economic empowerment

Renu Bala, President of the Panjhorvanga Dairy Enterprise (Credit: Abir Abdullah/Oxfam)

At a glance

Seeking to change economic systems that systematically discriminate against women so that economic development contributes to gender justice.


Our work enables more women to gain power in markets, benefit from decent work, participate in economic decision-making and influence, and benefit from improved economic systems and social norms that do not discriminate against women.

Women's economic empowerment is fundamental to women's ability to move out and stay out of poverty. Oxfam's work seeks to change economic systems (thinking, practices, roles, policies) that systematically discriminate against women, in order that economic development contributes sustainably to gender justice. But women's economic empowerment is more than a question of material resources; it is also fundamental to women's ability to enjoy all other human rights. It is vital if they are to be able to participate in decision-making and development; to enjoy decent work for decent and equal pay; to reduce and share heavy care responsibilities; and to resource and sustain local actions and networks for change. Oxfam's women's economic empowerment work is therefore anchored in relation to those broader empowerment issues and to the wider structural change we seek for women in our gender justice approach.

Knowledge hub

WEE Knowledge Hub

Oxfam's Women's Economic Empowerment in Agriculture Knowledge Hub facilitates a global network of Oxfam staff, partners and wider development practitioners at country, regional and global levels working on women's rights and economic empowerment, particularly in the area of smallholder agriculture.

Promote networking and peer-to-peer collaboration 

We connect staff and partners through regular calls, webinars and online discussions. We hold an annual learning event and support other face-to-face learning meetings organized by regional Communities of Practice or thematic groups. We manage the online platform to disseminate learning and share experiences within Oxfam and the wider development sector. Finally, the hub organizes annual WEE Leadership Awards to recognize staff and partners who have shown exceptional championship of WEE.

Support learning and innovation

At the hub launch in November 2015, participants agreed some priority learning themes and established working groups to advance learning until March 2017. The themes are: Influencing systems; Gender and resilience; Enterprises and access to finance; Private sector agricultural investment; Changing social norms at scale; WEE in urban contexts (Asia); and WEE and youth development (Southern Africa).

Promote good practice and access to resources

The hub curates and disseminates accessible tools and learning resources, and supports documentation and sharing of good practice. As part of this, we are in the process of developing a Conceptual Framework on WEE in Agriculture to help Oxfam deliver more consistent and impactful work. The framework clarifies concepts, agrees on principles for quality programming, and describes Oxfam's main programmes and approaches. We aim to partner with other networks, such as UN Women's Knowledge Gateway on WEE, to link Oxfam staff and partners to new ideas and opportunities to learn from and with others.

Support influencing and fundraising

The hub will guide Oxfam's long-term influencing on WEE, and compile and share evidence tailored to different audiences. The hub is supporting Oxfam's engagement with the UN High Level Panel on WEE (of which Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, is part). We are also working closely with Oxfam's National Influencing Team to build the capacity of staff at national level. The hub will help to link global and local campaigns to relevant resources, learning or country teams. It will support fundraising by making evidence from Oxfam's programming accessible, and via the online platform, will act as an institutional memory for WEE in Oxfam.

Leave no-one behind

UN High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment

Oxfam International's Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima is a member of the UN High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment.  The Panel seeks to mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world, in order to achieve Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. 

In September 2016, the Panel presented their first report to the UN Secretary General - 'Leave No-one Behind: A call to Action for Gender Equality and Women's Economic Empowerment'.

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