Facilitating the participation of women in economic life is seen to provide financial gain at both household and national level, as well as having long-term impacts upon poverty reduction through creating changes in the intergenerational transmission of poverty processes. However, enabling women to participate in economic life is subject to both formal and informal constraints: women face various institutional barriers, as well as discrimination played out within social relations. Removing these barriers, and actively creating mechanisms through which women are able to add value to the economy, are explained in the following review in terms of: access to jobs, access to credit and financial services; land and property rights and; agricultural inputs and technology.
When designing an intervention aimed to increasing the economic participation of women it is worth being mindful of the following:
- whether economic participation or empowerment is mirrored by similar social and political gains;
- whether the fruits of interventions ultimately benefit women themselves;
- whether clients (women) are informed enough to make the right decision about whether a particular product or service is right for them;
- whether an intervention is able to enhance the cohesion of women as a group;
- whether an intervention is eroding or contradicting a useful informal practice.