Women’s Economic Empowerment: Strengthening Public and Private Sector Impact through Accountability and Measurement (SDG 5)

By Margo Thomas, Eleanor Carey, Dinah Bennett, Jaclyn Berford, Boris Branisa, Yolanda Gibb, Colette Henry, Eun Kyung Kim, Gala Díaz Langou, Karen Miller, Mari Miura, Nicola Patterson, Smita Premchander, and Linda Scott


Women around the world face a wide array of economic realities, and live in varied social, cultural and political contexts. But they are also bound by common experiences which shape the ways that women interact with the economy differently from men. Efforts to advance the measurement of women’s economic empowerment must highlight the systemic barriers that women face using standard objective indicators and highlight the economic value of women’s unpaid work. Moreover, it is equally important to measure and account for subjective dimensions of ‘empowerment’ using proxy indicators that can be measured objectively (Buvinic, 2017).

This Policy Brief proposes governance frameworks and mechanisms for measuring women’s economic empowerment going beyond the standard measures of legal and pay equity. It makes recommendations outlining the need to work towards common definitions and targets for WEE, as well as key actions which public and private sector actors can begin to implement immediately to have a positive impact on WEE and build robust monitoring and evaluation systems to track objective and subjective aspects of WEE. In addition, this brief outlines specific areas of measurement of WEE for both public and private sectors, recognizing that countries should measure their level of progress against their own starting points rather than comparing against other countries.

“Women’s economic empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. We will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if there is no accelerated action to empower women economically. We know that women’s participation in all spheres of life, including in the economy, is essential to sustainable and durable peace and to the realization of human.