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Women's Economic Empowerment in Conflict


We believe that economic empowerment is critical for women to determine the course of their lives and reach their full potential.

Economic empowerment is not only about women’s ability to earn or to save money. They must also be free to decide how to engage in economic life and how resources are saved, spent, sold or invested. 

Supporting economic empowerment for women affected by conflict is fundamental to sustainable progress for women’s rights, ending extreme poverty, building peace and preventing conflict.

To achieve these goals, we need to move away from short-term relief and towards approaches that connect women’s immediate needs to their long-term empowerment. We support women's long-term economic empowerment as part of our year-long programme.

Shiwan Ahmed Rasool, an IDP from Makhmour, Iraq at her home in Daratu.


In partnership with the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security and the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) network, we commissioned research into women’s livelihood opportunities in Iraq. The findings highlight the voices of displaced women, including Syrian refugees, in the region. It focused on the opportunities and challenges they face as well as how they define ‘economic empowerment.’


Alia is a Syrian refugee who fled the war. She has lived in the Kurdish host community of Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, since 2013 where she enrolled in Women for Women International's programme.

A Women for Women International programme participant in Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Ryan Carter


Since 2004, we have supported more than 98,000 women through our year-long programme in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Women reported being unable to adequately access land to meet their needs and grow their businesses. We therefore commissioned research to explore the barriers they were facing and effective approaches for addressing these challenges.

A Mother's Dilemma

Watch this video made by women in Mumosho district, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo about marginalised women's access to land.

Social Protection and Cash Transfers

March 2019 | We held a meeting at the 63rd session of the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women to explore evidence on good practice about cash transfers for women affected by conflict. Expert speakers included representatives from the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab, OECD-GENDERNET, the Women’s Refugee Commission and the International Rescue Committee.

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Conflict

November 2018 | We hosted a roundtable meeting with experts to share evidence and delve deeper into the challenges of connecting short-term economic support for women affected by conflict with their long-term empowerment.

The evidence highlighted the importance of networks, connections between women’s economic development and agency and other areas, as well as the need for an intersectional approach.

Livelihoods Research from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

April 2018 | We shared our recent livelihoods research with experts and practitioners to discuss the wider implications of the findings.

The roundtable attendees discussed the need to consider long-term empowerment for women in fragile contexts alongside the needs for funding and access to justice.