Empowering women

March 07, 2019
Five women farmers in Kenya
IDRC / Sven Torfinn

The Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) commitment to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all will be achieved only if development initiatives consider and promote the unique needs, knowledge, roles, and potential of women and girls.

IDRC funds research that supports gender equality, facilitates women’s empowerment, and builds the capacity of female researchers to become leaders. By supporting research that confronts the structural and root causes of gender inequalities, IDRC helps to ensure that women, young girls, and children can take advantage of the same opportunities as men.

The Centre joins the worldwide call for collective action and shared responsibility for achieving gender parity and a safe, inclusive environment for all women.

IDRC fully endorses the rights of all women and girls to equal opportunity, and to lead lives free of violence and discrimination.

What does empowering women look like?

It looks like high quality, demand-driven, policy-relevant knowledge, partnerships, and networks in the pursuit of effective, evidence-based action to reduce gender disparity, improve opportunities, and embrace women’s autonomy.

It looks like supporting evidence-based research that fosters effective and long-term action to reduce social inequality, foster greater gender parity, and build a safer world.

It looks like promoting agricultural innovations that improve women’s income and access to markets, promoting female entrepreneurship in technology-based interventions, and examining how care work and other domestic duties are valued and redistributed inside and outside the household.

These projects explore some of the many ways that IDRC-supported research is promoting gender equality and ultimately contributing to the SDGs. By sharing efforts to empower women, IDRC is contributing to a vital global conversation that will help make gender equality a reality worldwide.

Gender in context

Science and technology

A woman in a labThe world needs more women scientists

Women are significantly underrepresented in science, making up only 28% of all researchers globally.

A woman in front of a pink wall holding a cellphoneFostering an Internet for women’s empowerment

Coding Rights leverages creative feminist approaches to support online rights.

Sisters Emilsa Otilia Lopez MÈndez (left),and Yelmi Guadalupe Lopez MÈndez,both migrant workers from Malacatan,Guatemala,make use of the Center for Migrant Women in Tapachula, Chiapas, MexicoAfterAccess: Uncovering the gender gap

What the Global South’s most comprehensive mobile and Internet use database says about gender.

Inclusive economies

Rosy, who comes from a line of traditional Indigenous midwives, became a professional midwife and offers her services at the Indigenous women’s house of San Luis Acatlán, Guerrero, Mexico.The power of collective action to achieve gender equality

Women all over the world are harnessing their collective power to address inequalities.

Antoinette, a nurse at a health center in Athiémé, examines a newborn beside the proud mother, Matilde.Women lead change for better antenatal care in rural Tanzania

Women’s groups in two Tanzanian districts identify sustainable, culturally relevant strategies for better antenatal care services.


Women sell beans between other stands selling clothing,fruit and vegetables at Rodi Market.Harnessing the transformative potential of women’s financial inclusion

New technologies, behavioural interventions, and changes in social norms can address gender barriers to financial inclusion.

Agriculture and environment

 Nalina & Subbanna at their field in Hadanahalli village Promoting gender and climate-smart agriculture to improve farmer resilience

Climate-smart agriculture increases farmers’ resilience to climate change while improving food security and increasing incomes.

Liezer Pérez fillets fish for sale in Bolivia.Positioning women for success in the Blue Economy

We must move beyond job creation for women to be successful in the Blue Economy.

Solar powered recordable radios, used in listener groups, help to ensure women can listen to and engage in programs.Communicating science for impact: radio for reaching farmers with research results

All too often, agricultural research results are published in journals and discussed at conferences, but fail to influence policy or reach farmers or consumers.

Perspectives on gender and women’s empowerment

More stories of gender equality