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CGD’s work on gender focuses policies in aid, development finance, trade, migration and peacekeeping that will improve women’s economic empowerment worldwide.
Greater equality drives big gains in health, education, employment, and improved livelihoods—for individuals, their families, and their communities. However, in many parts of the world, women and girls, and other marginalized groups including LGBT people, still face legal, economic, and political constraints that prevent them from participating fully and equally in society. CGD uses evidence to show how governments, donor institutions, and the private sector can help create conditions in low- and middle-income countries that allow all people to thrive.
In 1995 India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali—a women-owned and -run social enterprise. With support from key partners, Gitanjali has generated social value, providing its members with safe and dignified work while increasing their earnings. While Gitanjali faces challenges in becoming a fully self-sufficient social enterprise, its experience offers insights for other initiatives seeking to provide opportunities for women to transition from informal to formal work.
A consistent but perhaps unsurprising theme of CGD’s September 7 panel discussion, "Women Entrepreneurs: What Really Helps Them Start and Grow Businesses?" was that neither the challenges nor the solutions are simple. Access to finance—frequently emphasized—is not the only issue. And even within access to finance, it is important to look at both supply and demand, at both debt and equity, and at the behavior and attitudes of loan officers as well as bank managers.
Policymakers in rich and poor countries interested in boosting growth increasingly view women entrepreneurs as an underutilized asset. The launch of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Facility (We-Fi) at the G20 Summit is one example of a major initiative to mobilize more than $1 billion to help women start and grow businesses. But, beyond the scale of resources, important questions about how they are allocated need to be addressed.
Please join a panel of distinguished thought and practice leaders from the World Bank, WeConnect, and the Global Banking Alliance for Women for a discussion of how to formulate a holistic approach to this set of challenges. What does the evidence tell us about the most effective ways to support access to finance, access to skills and networks, and access to markets? And how can interventions best be combined?
The entrepreneur is a 59-year-old widow in the city of Mbeya, Tanzania. She has a covered dark corner space in an open market where she sells soft drinks during the day, adds beer in the evenings, and also sells prepared meals in an adjacent space. She recently took a 6-week long business training course from TechnoServe, which included instruction on how to access M-Pawa, a new Vodaphone mobile savings platform. This should allow her to gain better control of her income and invest in her business.
A few months ago, I wrote a note calling for financial incentives to increase the number of women in (military) peacekeeping operations from its current level of about 4 percent closer to the UN Security Council target of about 20 percent. This post includes some more thoughts about the idea, around what to use financial incentives for, and how to fund that.
At a London conference earlier this month, some donors promised generous funding for family planning services in developing countries. At the same time, however, future support from the US is in doubt, and progress towards the FP2020 family planning goals has been extremely limited. Just how much progress have we made, and how far do we have to go? What difference will the new pledges make, and how should they be used? Rachel Silverman, CGD’s assistant director of global health policy, responds to these questions in this week’s podcast.