Guidance: FCDO's Work and Opportunities for Women Programme

Department For International Development

June 29
08:25 2023


The objective of WOW is that women have access to improved economic opportunities through business interventions in supply chains and economic development programmes.

The 5-year programme aimed to enhance the economic empowerment of 300,000 women working in global value chains and work with 35 economic development programmes to increase the numbers of women beneficiaries by September 2022.

It will achieve this goal by supporting businesses, organisations and programmes that are ready and willing to act on womens economic empowerment (WEE); enabling players across the supply chain ecosystem to drive change; and influencing the UK and global agenda on womens economic empowerment.

It is being delivered by an alliance of global experts at the cutting edge of womens economic empowerment research, programme design and delivery. PwC leads this alliance, which also includes CARE International and Social Development Direct. Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and the University of Manchester were members of the alliance between 2017 to 2020.

Four areas of activity

1. Partnerships with business to improve womens participation in supply chains: businesses improve womens access to higher-return and higher-productivity jobs and roles in supply chains, with improving working conditions

WOWs unique approach, the first of its kind for FCDO, will accelerate business action through access to experts rather than by providing traditional funding. It will focus on the most entrenched barriers to progress and go beyond simply encouraging womens participation in global value chains, to enabling dignified, equal, and economically empowering work for women.

It will do this in the following ways:

  • scale: existing programmes which have demonstrated proven or promising results can be scaled up such that they reach more women
  • replication: initiatives which are proven to be successful can be replicated elsewhere to maximise their impact
  • innovation: new interventions can be piloted in a small number of cases
  • sustainability: interventions that create lasting, systemic change by supporting existing interventions to transform social norms on gender, promote the adoption of new public policies and adapt existing legislation, promote changes in business practice in supply chains
  • depth: existing programmes can have their scope increased or improved such that they empower women within their supply chains more successfully or in a more sophisticated way

2. Partnerships with business to improve data and transparency on womens work in supply chains: womens work in supply chains is made more visible, to improve global knowledge on womens economic contribution

The programme will partner with a number of companies in priority sectors to gain a deeper understanding of the risks and opportunities for women, particularly deeper in the supply chain where women may be less visible, and/or their greatest challenges are unknown. The research will also help us identify other opportunities for partnership that meet WOWs criteria for further intervention.

Research will be undertaken at 3 levels:

  • macro-level (global supply chains)
  • meso-level (company supply chains)
  • micro-level (deep dive country supply chains)

In The Double Day (PDF, 1.22 MB, 21 pages), the WOW programme explores the issue of unequal and unpaid work and care among garment workers in Bangladesh. The briefing paper presents an overview of current knowledge about unpaid care in the sector, and shares findings from primary research conducted with garment workers in 2019.

3. Increased knowledge and support for delivering womens economic empowerment through economic development programmes

HMG economic development programmes reach larger numbers of women and improve global knowledge on how to deliver results for women and girls through economic development interventions.

A WOW Helpdesk will provide FCDO and other government departments with access to rapid technical assistance and expert analysis for guidance, and know-how to address WEE at different stages of programming through:

  • a responsive query and programme support service, drawing on a wider expert pool to respond to queries from FCDO advisers across central and country programmes
  • proactive guidance and support on priority themes for WEE across Economic Development portfolio
  • regular communications updates drawing together learning from WOW and wider research and evidence on WEE, in the form of evidence digests

Helpdesk Offer (PDF, 220 KB, 2 pages)

WOW Helpdesk Year 1 Queries (PDF, 228 KB, 3 pages): The table summarises all the queries delivered by the WOW Helpdesk during Year 1

4. The Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) Fund

The WOW Fund supports initiatives that drive forward the Action Agenda of UN High Level Panel on Womens Economic Empowerment (UNHLP). The 1.8 million Fund supports select, strategic initiatives which promote long-term change in womens economic empowerment.

The Fund complements the wider activities of the WOW programme, which works directly with global supply chains and with HMG programmes to support improved womens economic empowerment (WEE) outcomes.

Initiatives supported by the Fund will deliver and demonstrate catalytic impact and contribute to global knowledge on how to economically empower women in 3 key areas:

  • enhancing land tenure security
  • recognising, reducing and redistributing unpaid care and work
  • improving outcomes for women in informal work

Following a selection process in 2018, the WOW Fund is pleased to announce that grants have been awarded to support the following projects:

Related Articles


  1. We don't have any comments for this article yet. Why not join in and start a discussion.

Write a Comment

Your name:
Your email:

Post my comment

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Share This

Enjoyed this? Why not share it with others if you've found it useful by using one of the tools below: