Market Systems Approaches to Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Addressing Unpaid Care Work

Published on 1 March 2016

Women make significant, unrecognised contributions to local economies, and to economic development; however they face multiple and overlapping barriers to realising their full potential in terms of access to education, information, decision-making power, or earning power (among others).

Research has shown that the economic empowerment of women can build self-confidence, enhance women’s agency within the household and community, and contribute to improved education, health and security outcomes for families. However, unpaid care work is a significant and regularly overlooked factor which affects women’s economic, political and social activities. The provision of careis a social good and a valuable activity that isessential for maintaining society, including forfunctioning of markets. Yet market approaches often fail to recognise unpaid care work because it is outside of the paid economy or because they fail to disaggregate roles and responsibilities at the household level. This framing document sets out how the provision of care can be integrated conceptually within a market systems approach –to be tested through field work and exchange with programmes and practitioners –when baseline research and analysis determine that care provision is a critical issue affecting how programmes benefit women and men. Finally, it will explore the use of market systems approaches to design interventions that employ ‘systems thinking’ and techniques of facilitation to deliver sustainable, scalable, system‐wide solutions.


Jodie Thorpe

Research Fellow

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