Call for Experience: AWEF Practitioner Learning Brief and Women in Market Systems Symposium

Sep 14, 2018 | by

Collaborating with the Private Sector: The Return on Investment in Women’s Access and Agency

The purpose of this AWEF Practitioner Learning Brief and Women in Market Systems Symposium is to bring together promising practice and learning emerging from AWEF as well as the wider market systems development (MSD) and women’s economic empowerment (WEE) practitioner community and promote constructive dialogue on topics of relevance to the community of practice. The focus of the 2018/2019 AWEF Learning Agenda is how to effectively work with market actors to build the business case around women’s access and agency.

Demonstrating the “business case” for women’s participation in the labour force and workplace[1] is a popular buzzword, and the focus of many economic development programmes. A number of studies have shown that when businesses address issues of gender diversity in their business models and core operations they see an improvement in performance and increased profits[2]. More inclusive business practices in turn empower women and can help challenge gender inequalities within households and the wider community and industry[3]. To date, much of the evidence to support these economic benefits to women and companies has come from studies conducted in North America and Europe. Evidence to demonstrate the specific (ROI) on investment to business from focusing on women’s access and agency in developing countries is still scarce, including practical methodologies for calculating the costs and benefits[4].

Women’s economic empowerment is the outcome of both access and agency[5]. Women are economically empowered when they have access to resources, opportunities, and assets that allow them to upgrade their economic position, as well as the agency to act on and make economic decisions. However, we currently know very little about how to effectively calculate and communicate the economic value of women’s access and agency, particularly among economically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities and in the context of developing and emerging markets. What is the economic value of women’s agency and access for the business, the wider economy, as well as the women themselves? What performance indicators speak to businesses, and how can these be linked to WEE? With an increasing focus on women’s agency, in addition to access and participation, it is critical that practitioners identify new methods for calculating, pitching and monitoring the ROI of women’s increased engagement in ways the private sector understands.

Call for Experience

We are looking for practitioners from organizations and programs that work with the private sector to empower women to submit their experience on this topic.

Selected practitioners will:

  • Benefit from the visibility of having their experience and lessons learned shared through SEEP’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Community of Practice and AWEF Practitioner Learning Brief
  • The top 5 case studies will be presented as part of the AWEF’s “Women in Market Systems Symposium”, to be held in Autumn 2019 in the Middle East. Partial funding will be made available to subsidize travel and subsistence costs.
  • Benefit from other dissemination opportunities such as webinars, events and workshops
  • Build professional connections in the field
  • Exchange experiences and learn from peers working in the MSD and WEE community


All submissions will be assessed by an Evaluation Committee based on the following criteria:

  • Work with the private sector to address issues of women’s access and/or agency in the market and workplace
  • Operate in low and middle-income countries
  • Be highly practical and capture key lessons learned
  • Provide initial evidence of impact of the intervention on women and private sector actors targeted through interventions
  • Address at least one of the following research questions:
    • What are the costs and benefits to businesses of enhancing women’s access and agency within the market and/or workplace?
    • What is the value of enhancing women’s access and agency as either employees or producers/suppliers - how do we quantify and translate the benefits into business language?
    • How can we effectively make the private sector more aware of the potential value of enhancing women’s access and agency?
    • What is the impact of increased access and agency within the market and/or workplace on women? What are the benefits that extend to women’s role within the home and community?

Time Commitment

  • Willingness to provide more details about your program to complement your initial application
  • If selected, participate in a one-on-one call in preparation of the Practitioner Learning Brief
  • Participation in one conference call with the other selected practitioners
  • Availability to attend AWEF’s “Women in Market Systems Symposium,” to be held in Autumn 2019 in the Middle East
  • Willingness to participate in dissemination events such as webinars and workshops


Interested practitioners are invited to submit their experience by September 14, 2018 through this online form. Authors of accepted submissions will be contacted by October 1, 2018, at which time they will be requested to provide additional information to supplement their original submission. We expect to finalize and publish the final practitioner brief by January 2019.


Submissions Due: September 14, 2018

All questions in relation to this call for case studies can be directed to Julia Lipowiecka at:

[1] Women Matter. Time to Accelerate. McKinsey. 2017.

[2] Pellegrino, Greg; Sally D’Amato, and Anne Weisberg. “The Gender Dividend: Making the business case for investing in women.” Deloitte. 2011; “Gender Diversity in Top Management: Moving corporate culture, moving boundaries.” Women Matter. McKinsey and Company. 2013.

[3] Ibid.

[4] LEO Brief. Making the Business Case: Women’s Economic Empowerment in Market Systems Development. 2015.

[5] Anne Marie Golla et al., Understanding and Measuring Women's Economic Empowerment: Definition, Framework and Indicators. (Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women, 2011).

Categories: Event Women's Economic Empowerment Events