Today, 4 out of 10 workers globally are women. Yet, women in our communities continue to be greatly affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation. This means that women often end up in insecure, low-wage jobs, and hold a small minority of senior management positions. It also means that they are often denied access to economic assets, such as land and loans. Women and girls, in particular in rural areas, spend a lot of time doing unpaid and labor-intensive household-related work. Since water pipes are not in place, they have to fetch every bucket of water their families need. Since electricity is not available, they have to walk long distances to search for firewood. This means that little time is left over to pursue an education or engage in paid work. So, women and their daughters get trapped into poverty and illiteracy.

At the same time, investing in women’s economic empowerment is known to set a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Why is not much more done to change women’s lives? Many men agree that giving their daughters an education will help them advance in life, but these same men (in decision-making positions) are not taking the radical steps required to empower women and girls. We need to move faster and ensure women’s equal rights, opportunities and leadership at all levels. Women should have the same rights to own and control land. They should have the same access to financial services (loans, credit, insurance…) and to open a business or make an investment. However, this is not the case in many countries where women do not even have an ID or a bank account.

We are working to change this and improve support for women’s economic empowerment. On 23 September, we launched to provide an online space for women and men around the world to express their ideas and engage with peers, leaders and potential partners on concrete action required to make progress in this area. The idea of this online community was born at a 2011 international conference on women’s economic empowerment. More than 100 experts, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, development practitioners, academics, and business and industry leaders expressed the need for a one-stop-shop for women’s economic empowerment.

I am excited about having The Coca-Cola Company as a partner on the Knowledge Gateway. We hope to be able to reach out to the millions of women within the Coca-Cola value chain, and give them a platform for exchanging their experiences and lessons learned from support provided through the 5by20 initiative.

We are looking for community champions to join this endeavor. Are you ready to take action today? Start by registering at

Anna Falth

Anna Falth is Manager of Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment.