Making gender equality a reality.

Creating Economic Opportunity for the World's Poorest Women & Men

Published on:   July 28, 2014

Less Than Two Dollars a DayLess Than Two Dollars a Day...

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Around the world, more than 1 billion women and men live in extreme poverty, struggling to meet even their most basic needs of food and shelter.

That's why Women Thrive Worldwide conducted research in 2013 and early 2014 on three major, overlapping areas that are important to the economic advancement of people living on less than $2 USD a day: market access, property rights, and the informal economy.

This research helped inform a new multi-year policy initiative on women’s economic opportunity that Women Thrive began in fall 2014.

The Report

This report provides a summary of the research Women Thrive conducted, as well as recommendations for stakeholders working to advance women’s economic opportunities. Specifically, it includes:

  • A brief summary of the demographic context for examining local economies;
  • A review of the relevant literature on women's market access, the informal economy, and more; 
  • Findings from focus groups in Haiti & Ghana and additional expert interviews; and
  • An expansive list of recommendations for public and private donors, NGOs, and other stakeholders.

With so much focus on better economic development, now is a critical time to examine the barriers most affecting women’s contributions to their families’, communities’, and nations’ economic well-being.

Key Findings

  • The informal economy matters. While market access and property rights are critical for the economic advancement of women in poverty, the development community and donors must also carefully consider several factors of the overall informal economy—such as the lack of reliable contracts for employees and producers, the absence of social protections, and the growing “informalization” of formal sector wage labor.

  • More attention is needed. If the broader issues of the informal economy are not addressed, the sustainability of market access and property rights interventions may be limited, and most importantly, the ability of people living in extreme poverty to have decent livelihoods will be stunted.

  • Women's collectives and leadership development are critical. We also found women’s economic collectives to be critically important for reaching the very poorest women in communities.