Women’s economic empowerment (WEE) is a process and a goal with the potential to improve outcomes for women and their families as well as societies as a whole. Including women in the formal workforce can be an important step towards improved WEE but terms of entry into the formal labour market are important and should come within the scope of decent work – to include fair income, safe work, freedom to organise as a collective, etc.
Women in Côte d’Ivoire work: they often have multiple occupations and combine wage work, non-wage work and cash-earning in the formal (6% of working women) and informal (94% of working women) labour markets.
A host of national policies related to the labour market have focused on formalisation of entrepreneurs, which are predominantly female; financial inclusion; female education; and national planning. Some of these policies have an explicit WEE component or objective. Legal reforms regarding women’s rights have supported these policies.
Gaps remain in the policy framework: the terms of entrepreneurship issue are not addressed – that is, switching from ‘entrepreneurs out of necessity’ to ‘opportunity entrepreneurs’ remains a gap that could be addressed through job creation. Current policies for job creation, such as the Politique nationale de l’emploi, do not have specific provisions for WEE, when more and better jobs should be created for women in conjunction with education and training programming to improve women’s skills.
Gender norms shape and constrain economic opportunities for women. Legal reforms; supportive policies, wherein WEE is an objective that is acted upon with corresponding budget; and monitoring and reporting efforts can help change gender norms and, at the same time, open up greater economic possibilities for women.
Further actions to improve WEE in Côte d’Ivoire require a multi-pronged approach. First, and most crucially, there is a need for a response that targets labour supply and demand simultaneously. This will entail creating more and better jobs for women through horizontal and sectoral policies, and at the same time putting in place education and training to improve women’s skills and support a shift in gender norms. Second, support to a switch from ‘entrepreneurship out of necessity’ to ‘opportunity entrepreneurship’, to support women-led businesses, will be required.
- Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationala Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)