By: Christa Davis

“When a woman earns an income, she reinvests 90% of her earnings to the growth of her family and community.”

Facts like this have become a cornerstone of the global development agenda. The new Sustainable Development Goals emphasize empowering women and girls as both a fundamental human right and as a major contributor to developing sustainable and thriving communities around the world.

“Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”Sustainable Development Goal # 5

This October, PCI convened a panel at the SEEP Network Annual Conference to discuss key factors that empower women. The lineup included:

  • Sarah Emerson, PCI
  • Rajshree Das, PCI
  • Katherine Fritz (moderator), International Center for Research on Women
  • Anna Mecagni, Women for Women International
  • Neha Misra, Solar Sister

The discussion focused on how individual and collective agency interact with economic development, and how these elements enable women and girls to become socially and economically empowered.


Sarah Emerson, Director of our Women Empowered (WE) Initiative, explained how effective empowerment programs must focus on economic empowerment and developing self-efficacy and collective agency as a group.

“We need to determine the best mix of these complementary activities, ensuring that women who get access to financial services and economic activities have the agency to make decisions and take advantage of them,” she said.

Partnerships for Good

One solution is through partnerships among market-based actors, NGO’s, governments and/or research institutions working collaboratively to increase individual and collective agency while taking on new economic opportunities. Sarah highlighted WE’s partnership with Solar Sister as an example, where Women Empowered (WE) savings groups have the opportunity to become ‘Solar Entrepreneurs’ and sell clean technology products in their communities. The agency that they gain as members of their WE groups, combined with economic access they receive as Solar Sisters, results in even greater impact at the individual and community levels.

Finally, Rajshree Das, PCI’s Parivartan Program Manager, traveled all the way from India to present how our Parivartan program partnership with the Indian government in Bihar is making great strides to improve women’s economic access with collective group and social agency. In 2014, The Population Council joined our program partnership to complete an independent Parivartan Midline Evaluation. The results showed tremendous results in community and group mobilization and individual empowerment related indicators, including those focused on self-efficacy and economy.

Learn more about how our Parivartan Project and WE Initiative are enabling the economic and social empowerment of women worldwide.

Christa Davis is a Development and Marketing Coordinator for PCI.