Today marks the 103rd year of International Women’s Day – a day that celebrates progress toward achieving women’s equality around the world. While recent achievements are ample, the road to equality is long and seemingly unyielding. Women produce half of the world’s food and are primary caregivers, yet they earn 10 percent of the world’s income, own less than 1 percent of world’s property, and comprise a staggering 70 percent of the 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Hence, it is impossible to speak of tackling global poverty without focusing on the role of women. There is a clear business case for it too. Expanding women’s economic opportunities through income generation and entrepreneurship that contribute to higher wages leads to improvements in child health and education, increased agricultural productivity, and overall economic growth. Women simply cannot be ignored, they are too vital to the economy.
With this in mind, the role of Inclusive Business in incorporating women into the markets has enormous potential to accelerate development outcomes and contribute to poverty alleviation in a sustainable way. Inclusive business combines profitability with development impact by expanding access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income communities. Such practices can have a valuable impact on the demand side of markets by extending affordable goods and services with a potential for high development impact to women consumers of goods and services. From the supply side, development impact can be achieved by incorporating women into the value chains as employees, producers, and business owners.