Courtesy of Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage | Maasai tribe elders and women in Shompole, Kenya
Equal is Greater
A website to share the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s global framework for advancing women’s economic empowerment

A woman in charge of her economic future is a woman with power over her own life. If we can ensure women and girls have tangible control over their futures and wellbeing— that they no longer earn less money, have less power, or make fewer gains—we can help create a world where women, girls, men, and boys all have a chance to thrive.

When women and girls can participate as equals in the economy, it creates something greater for everyone.

We created this website to share the research and analyses that underpin our work on advancing women’s economic empowerment. We invite you to explore these pages and learn more. For more on the foundation’s Gender Equality team, click here.

Equality for women and girls creates something greater for everyone
What Is Women’s Economic Empowerment?
We define women’s economic empowerment as the transformative process by which women and girls go from having limited power, voice, and choice at home and in the economy to having the skills, resources, and opportunities needed to access and compete equitably in markets and the agency to control and benefit from economic gains.
Three key outcomes allow us to assess the extent of women’s economic empowerment:
Access to income and assets
Increased labor participation for women
Improved diversity of work opportunities available to women
More women receive social protection payments directly into their own accounts
Women have greater access to productive assets
Women receive a higher return on their labor
Control of and benefit from economic gains
Women own and control a greater proportion of productive assets
Women use their own bank accounts to save money and make payments
Women have greater bargaining power over household resources
Power to make decisions
Women have more agency over life choices
Women have expanded access to information on health and livelihoods
Women have more social capital and greater self-confidence
What works to drive women’s economic empowerment
Theory of change
Our approach

In developing its inaugural gender equality strategy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation conducted a two-year investigation exploring what works to increase women’s economic empowerment. Through this research, we arrived at a framework for understanding how places can progress towards greater economic empowerment for women.

This site sets out our framework and the research behind it to provide a window into our thinking and a public resource for the field. We created this site as a snapshot of the state of knowledge at the time we launched our strategy, with high hopes that the strength and depth of evidence will continue to improve in the years ahead.

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Courtesy of Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage | Members of the Self Employed Women's Association in Ahmedabad, India
Theory of change

We identified 13 elements that are critical components for increasing women’s economic empowerment, ranging from education to financial inclusion.

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Courtesy of Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage | Self Employed Women's Association nutrition program session in Ahmedabad, India
Theory of change
We discovered 10 accelerators—broad-based activities and underlying preconditions that expedite progress by amplifying the impact of interventions.
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Courtesy of Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage | Cloth vendors in Accra, Ghana | 2015
Theory of change
Country case studies

We explored how large-scale progress on women’s economic empowerment has been achieved by detailing the change that occurred in five different countries.

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© Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Mulugeta Ayene | Health extension worker meets with mother and child in the Gurage zone, Ethiopia | 2016