Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme

Women's Economic Empowerment 

Participating in economic activities allows women to effect positive changes in their own lives and their communities, with positive ripple effects for the whole country. Historically, however, gendered norms, behaviours and social relations have played a big part in disadvantaging women economically.

UN Women supports women in reshaping conditions at both ends of the economic spectrum — from boosting women’s participation in economic policy-making to supporting efforts to provide women with practical skills needed for securing sustainable livelihoods.

Rural areas and outer island economies in most PICTs are still semi-subsistence and markets in both rural and urban areas are central to the livelihoods of a majority of the people, particularly in poorer households. The economic situation is also influenced by strong family and community ties and traditional obligations linked to communal land tenure.

UN Women also plans to support governments and businesses in enhancing the role that the state plays in providing social protection beyond health and education.

Key project: Markets for Change (M4C)

Women dominate many small-scale market operations; between 75% and 90% of all market vendors in the Pacific are women. The hours are long, profits are often low, and conditions difficult.

UN Women’s M4C project is a six-year, multi-country initiative that targets market vendors in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. It aims to help improve their lives and increase their economic activity to a point where they are essentially running small enterprises and can consider formal sector employment or business opportunities in the agriculture, retail and hospitality sectors.

It builds on experience gained through the Partners Improving Markets series of pilot projects implemented by UN Women from 2009 to 2012, as well as local initiatives and entry points for change identified in country-specific initiatives.

The project will inject more than US$11 million into making markets in the three countries safer, more inclusive and non-discriminatory. The bulk of this funding has come from the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

M4C focuses on four areas:

  • Representative marketplace groups
  • Socio-economic security of market vendors
  • Local government and market management
  • Physical infrastructure and operating systems

Find out more about the WEE programme

Featured publication

Market for Change Market Profiles


A snapshot of the Markets for Change project and the markets it works in across Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. As a group of small and geographically dispersed countries far from international markets, economic growth across the Pacific region is often uneven. While the... more

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