Innovation for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality
From the eradication of foot binding to foot pedaled water pumps, from the Pill to property rights, innovation can transform women’s lives. Virtuous circles of change can be sparked by women’s use of a seemingly simple technology; a shift in social attitudes about what is possible for women; or increased access for women to economic opportunities, employment, savings and credit.
At the most basic level, innovations can benefit women simply by improving their well-being in terms of health, nutrition, income, even life span. Beyond vital improvements in well-being, innovations can lead to women’s empowerment, securing freedom and resources for women to make decisions, build confidence and act in their own interests. Deeper and truly transformative innovations reshape men’s and women’s roles on a longer-term basis. Examples abound where only yesterday women were immobile, but today move freely, where women= were silent but today have a voice, where women were dependent but today are the engines of progress for their families, businesses and communities.
This research is the first scholarly assessment of its kind to understand how innovations have improved women’s well-being, empowered women and advanced gender equality. We examine eight catalytic innovations in three domains that intersect areas with the greatest need and most creative entry points for realizing women’s empowerment: (1) technology use (2) social norm change and (3) economic resilience.