Empowering women with economic opportunity provides them with the means to take care of their families and communities, and escape the poverty cycle.
The Gender and Investment Climate Reform Assessments for Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu address some of the barriers preventing women from realizing their economic potential by providing practical and attainable solutions to improving business women's opportunities.
The reports are the result of collaboration between the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and IFC, and ask whether women face different or additional investment climate constraints in comparison to men.
While women's level of economic opportunities varies across the region, many business women share common problems. Findings of the report show that many Pacific women are unable to access property, credit, and justice.
Lack of knowledge and experience in dealing with business formalization processes, such as business and license registration, is also an obstacle confronting many business women.
IFC, in partnership with Pacific Island Governments, aims to increase economic opportunities for women by improving the business enabling environment for female entrepreneurs through its Investment Climate programs.
As the case studies show, in each of these countries, women are running enterprises that are, or have the potential to be, growth-orientated. The six Gender and Investment Climate Reform Assessments set targets and detail activities and tools to enable such women to formalize and thus grow their businesses and increase their income.
Each Assessment also advocates for equal opportunities for women's voices to be heard in public private dialogues, greater information sharing on business formalities and for governments to address the economic empowerment of women.
IFC also finds that court-referred mediation can offer an opportunity to enhance women's access to justice, as well as providing training and accrediting women as mediators.
All recommended targets and activities relate to reducing gender constraints through IFC's current program of investment climate reforms. Any further recommendations made not linked to targets or activities are for the respective Governments and their development partners, such as AusAID and the Asian Development Bank, to consider and advance, as they deem appropriate. Each of these recommendations, if implemented, will support women in business in the Pacific and provide them with opportunities for sustainable growth The governments of Australian, New Zealand, and Japan support IFC work in this area.