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Women's Economic Empowerment: Pushing the Frontiers of Inclusive Market Development

Erin Markel, Lindsey Jones
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Inclusive market systems development is increasingly recognized as an approach that empowers poor and marginalized people. By explicitly taking gender dynamics into account, inclusive market systems can empower women, leading to wide-ranging development dividends for both women and men, their families, and wider society. 

USAID is a leader in global efforts to achieve gender equality and promote women’s empowerment through the agency’s policy on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment. At the same time, USAID’s private sector development programming is increasingly focused on inclusive market systems. Bringing these two objectives together offers the potential for achieving greater market competitiveness, resilience for communities and households, and dignity for all of its members. 

The Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project aims to improve USAID programs, projects, and activities focused on creating inclusive market systems. To support this process, LEO has developed a framework that defines market systems and offers general guidelines for interventions. The framework presented in this paper identifies gender considerations and provides examples for facilitating women’s economic empowerment in inclusive market systems.

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