In November 2016, we launched an update to the Roadmap, “Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design,” featuring 96 new studies on women’s economic empowerment globally.

To see the updated findings, click here.



Research has demonstrated that when women are economically empowered, entire communities benefit. Yet until now, there has been a crucial knowledge gap regarding the most effective interventions to advance women's economic opportunities. This initiative helps close this gap by gathering the best available evidence to help guide smart programs and investments.


The United Nations Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation joined forces in early 2012 to create a roadmap to catalyze program and policy action for women's economic empowerment. Each organization has invested millions of dollars and years of focus on enhancing the lives of women in developing countries. This research initiative builds on the organizations' shared interests and expertise, and engaged partners across the research and program communities to produce rigorous and practical recommendations for action.


A Roadmap for Promoting Women's Economic Empowerment, published in September 2013, identifies proven, promising, and high-potential interventions that increase productivity and earnings for different groups of women in diverse country contexts. Many of the interventions are simple and easy to implement, with the potential to benefit a significant number of women. The Roadmap gives funders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and governments a path to programs that effectively help women improve their incomes, productivity, and ultimately, their communities.


In 2014, the initiative expanded to include work on measurement. In developing the Roadmap, it became clear that many studies utilize different outcome measures, making it difficult to compare outcomes across studies and build the global body of evidence. To address this, Measuring Women's Economic Empowerment, published in June 2015 as a companion to the Roadmap report, summarizes recommended measures to assess direct, intermediate, and final outcomes of women's economic empowerment programs. Outcomes of interest are women's increased productivity, income, and well-being.


In 2016, a partnership with the Center for Global Development (CGD) updated the Roadmap’s assessment of the effectiveness of interventions in light of the new evidence published since 2013. This update also identifies possible mechanisms to explain why interventions lead to positive outcomes and features of ‘smart design’, such as commitment devices and peer support that can help to overcome gender-specific constraints women face.





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