In recent decades, the world has seen considerable advancements in the status of women and girls, with the international community adopting landmark women’s rights treaties and resolutions and with countries expanding women's rights protections in their legal frameworks. However, for many of the world's women and girls substantive gender equality continues to be aspirational. Significant barriers exist and are reinforced across multiple levels of analysis, including individual, community, socio-cultural, and institutional, and women continue to be underrepresented in political, economic, and social life.
As citizens and elected officials, women are often hampered in their ability to effectively influence legislative and policymaking processes at all levels of government. This can be attributed to a range of barriers including a lack of skills and access to political spaces and institutional preferences for patriarchy and male perspectives. Women’s inclusion in peacemaking processes continues to lag despite evidence that supports their inclusion increases the probability of securing lasting agreements. “Between 1992 and 2019, women represented 13 percent of negotiators, 6 percent of mediators and 6 percent of signatories in major peace processes around the world.” Growing evidence suggests that when peacebuilding approaches are inclusive, they tend to last longer. Contrary to traditional male approaches to peacebuilding, women’s approaches tend to broaden peacebuilding agendas and have been inclusive of communities.
Income disparity between men and women across the globe continues to widen. Women also account for majority of laborers in the informal economy. In many parts of the world women face notable challenges starting, expanding, and sustaining their businesses. Some of these barriers include lack of access to credit, ownership of physical assets, equipment, or other productive resources. Many women are unable to open bank accounts and transact business without approval of their spouses or male relatives. Due to a lack of educational opportunities and/or job segregation, women lack adequate skills to establish and grow businesses in non-gendered sectors. Further, many women entrepreneurs face gender-based violence (GBV) as an unintended consequence of their economic activity. In the most extreme cases, this may lead to increased levels of intimate partner violence (IPV). Additionally, due to prevailing, harmful, and entrenched socio-cultural norms, women often lack independence in decision making around their business operations including the use of income.
Globally, almost one in three women have experienced some form of GBV. While a violation of individual human rights, GBV has significant social and economic costs, as women who experience it are often isolated from their communities, do not engage effectively in the workforce, and are not able to actively contribute to socio-cultural and political life. Reducing GBV helps everyone, contributing to shared prosperity and leading to stronger, more cohesive societies.
Historically, foreign assistance programs have approached GBV, women peace and security (WPS), women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in a stove piped manner, despite the deeply interconnected lived realities of women. The Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) global consortium takes an integrated, intersectional, and multidisciplinary approach to these issues..
WAGE is proud to announce the establishment of its Advisory Group and Network (AG&N), a community of practice of practitioners and academics in these thematic areas, to advance the WAGE Learning Agenda. The AG&N will engage in collaborative research and learning to build a body of evidence of promising practices in integrated approaches to GBV, WPS, and WEE. WAGE’s learning agenda prioritizes research questions that the WAGE consortium will actively seek to answer. These questions seek to understand what is already known about integrated programming for women’s and girls’ empowerment, what gaps in experience and evidence exist, and how the consortium will aim to bridge these gaps.
Funded by the Department of State’s Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), WAGE is led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in close partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the Grameen Foundation, and Search for Common Ground. We implement programs across the globe in 15 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East.
*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government.
 Jamille Bigio, Rachel Vogelstein, Alexandra Bro, and Anne Connell. "Women's Participation in Peace Processes," Council on Foreign Relations, November 17, 2021, cfr.org/women-peace.
 Lori Heise, STRIVE Research Consortium, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, What Works to Prevent Partner Violence? An Evidence Overview (2011)
 H. Elizabeth Peters et al., Urban Institute, Women’s Economic Empowerment: A Review of Evidence on Enablers and Barriers (2016).