Creating Opportunity Where It's Needed Most
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IFC Sustainability

Special Economic Zones


IFC provides practical recommendations on how to design, promote and implement gender-inclusive special economic zones (SEZs) that benefit firms, employees and the wider private sector development of host countries.


Women’s Advancement Can Help SEZ Performance


About 60-80% of the global SEZ workforce is female—and in some cases as high as 90%. Focusing on women-friendly policies and practices is critically important when it comes to leveraging an SEZ’s potential as a catalyst for long-term, sustainable growth.


Raising Productivity and Reputation


SEZs are often women’s first entry point into the formal employment sector of developing countries and can provide excellent incubation for women's economic advancement as workers, professionals and entrepreneurs.


For instance, implementing gender-inclusive policies in SEZs can provide women with increased opportunities for formal employment, higher income levels, and greater economic independence. It can also benefit an enterprise’s bottom line through reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and an enhanced reputation among investors.


Step-by-Step Guide for Reform 


For a step-by-step guide on how to include gender dimensions in SEZ planning and reform, refer to Gender Dimensions of Investment Climate Reform: A Guide for Policy Makers and Practitioners.

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