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Infrastructure as a Game-Changer for Women’s Economic Empowerment


SDDirect work under the DFID ICED Facility instrumental in enhancing the role of infrastructure as an accelerator for WEE

In September 2016 the UN Secretary General launched the first ever report by the High Level Panel (HLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment - read more

SDDirect’s work under the DFID-funded Infrastructure and Cities for Economic Development (ICED) Facility was instrumental in ensuring this HLP report recognised the potential role of infrastructure as a game-changer for women’s economic empowerment (WEE).

At an early stage in the consultations around the HLP Report, our team*, co-led by Sue Phillips, identified that the importance of infrastructure was not featuring in the dialogue. In order to influence the report, and with DFID support, the team prepared a briefing paper outlining the role of infrastructure in accelerating WEE and presenting clear examples of best practice in different infrastructure sectors. Through active engagement with the report authors, and the sharing of this evidence, our team made sure the report stressed infrastructure as a priority.

The HLP report highlights the potential for the design, planning, delivery and governance of infrastructure in the improvement of women’s lives, through reducing the demands of household work, increasing the productivity of their enterprises and enabling them to move into better jobs or more profitable markets.

It provides a clear recommendation for government to “provide adequate support to enable women to work productively, including by investing in quality public care services and decent care jobs, social protection for all, and infrastructure that supports women’s safe access to economic opportunities.”

*The team also included Jessica Jacobson, Rachel Mohun, Smita Biswas, Susan Joekes and Sally Baden.




  • The HLP on Women’s Economic Empowerment was established this year to address the specific economic issues that affect women and to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its promise to leave no one behind.
  • Infrastructure and Cities for Economic Development (ICED) is DFID’s new catalytic, flexible facility designed to accelerate DFID’s infrastructure and cities initiatives across the world to contribute to poverty reduction and to resilient, inclusive, and transformative economic growth. As a core technical partner of this facility, SDDirect has supported the development of a programme of work and advisory capacity to support the mainstreaming of gender and inclusion in infrastructure and cities programming for inclusive growth. ICED is managed by a PwC-led Alliance that includes Adam Smith International, ARUP, Engineers Against  Poverty, the International Institute for Environment and Development,  MDY Legal and Social Development Direct. Click here for more information.