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Economic empowerment is essential to accelerating equality for women

By Kace O'Neill | |6 minute read

Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day. The theme is “Inspire Inclusion” and “Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.” Both of these concepts are relevant to providing financial security for women, and that’s where economic empowerment comes in.

According to OECD, “economic empowerment is the capacity of women and men to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognise the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth.”

“Economic empowerment can increase access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial services, property and other productive assets, skills development and market information.”


Economic empowerment is a tool that is fundamental to accelerating the progress of equalling the playing field for both men and women in the workplace. HR Leader recently spoke to Angela Coble, who is the client group technology officer and the gender ERG executive sponsor at Accenture Australia, about the ongoing progression of women’s equality in the workplace.

Coble spoke on the United Nations’ pledge to accelerating progress and how it isn’t a one-way solution, that instead, it takes an ecosystem of tools to continue the formulation of progress.

“The UN’s official theme is all about just making sure everyone’s voice is heard. So, for me, it’s pretty straightforward. [It’s a] holistic approach that’s required to create an inclusive environment for women in all facets of workplace and society,” Coble said.

“A continued focus on participation and representation in all conversations, in policy, in programs, at all career levels and in all industries is what is required to accelerate progress.”

Although the economic side of things isn’t the be-all and end-all of accelerating progress, it still plays a crucial role and can have a wide range of positive impacts on women in terms of their participation in not only the workplace but also society as a whole.

“It’s incredibly important because when women are educated and feel that they have that economic empowerment, they make decisions, and when they make those decisions, they’re included in the participation of society and the workplace.”

“Without economic empowerment, the simple things like having access to a bank account, earning potential, being able to pay bills, being able to create financial stability throughout their career and work life [is made harder],” said Coble.

Economic empowerment is a fundamental inclusion piece that is required to ensure that women have the opportunity to participate all the way through their careers, in the workplace, and within society.

Coble believes that economic empowerment of women should bypass gender lines and be a cohesive mission between men and women, explaining the importance of the needed support from men to ensure that economic empowerment actually takes place.

“I know today we’re focused on the economic empowerment of women, but I would hope that our men in the workplace would join as well because the information is fundamental to not only women’s economic empowerment but the allied support required from men to ensure that that it actually takes place,” Coble said.

According to UN Women, here are some of the key benefits of economic empowerment:

  • Achieves women’s rights and gender equality: Women’s economic empowerment means ensuring women can equally participate in and benefit from decent work and social protection; access markets and have control over resources, their own time, lives, and bodies; and increased voice, agency, and meaningful participation in economic decision making at all levels from the household to international institutions.
  • It promotes economic justice: Promoting women’s economic justice and rights in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • When more women work, economies grow: Women’s economic empowerment increases economic diversification and income equality for shared prosperity. It is estimated that closing the gender gap could give the global economy a US$7 trillion boost.
  • It increases women’s and girls’ educational attainment: Education, upskilling, and reskilling – especially to keep pace with rapid technological transformations affecting jobs – are critical for women’s and girls’ health and wellbeing, as well as their income-generation opportunities and participation in the formal labour market.
  • Women’s economic equality is good for business: Companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organisational effectiveness and growth. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organisational performance.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Angela Coble, click below:

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.