Women make up more of the world's poor than men. Often, their
work is unrecognised and unpaid. They rarely have control over assets, such as
land. This means they cannot become economically independent, and makes them
particularly vulnerable in widowhood and old age.
Women need more resources and opportunities for sustainable
economic and human development. We want to help improve their access to markets
and jobs, make credit more readily available, and ensure that infrastructure
improvements benefit women as well as men. We encourage our partners in
developing countries to make sure that economic management and investment
programmes take account of gender issues and urge the private sector to be more
We are supporting research into the effects on women of
globalisation and the liberalisation of world trade. This should give us a
better understanding of how women can benefit from these global developments. We
are also developing a programme to support initiatives on ethical trade,
socially responsible business and the promotion of core labour standards to
protect women and other workers from exploitation. Child labour and the sexual
exploitation of children are also growing areas of concern.
These studies are called Participatory Poverty Assessments
(PPA). UK expertise helped develop PPAs in conjunction with the World Bank. They
are an invaluable tool for highlighting the economic and social problems which
women, as well as men, face.
Finding the causes of poverty
A poor woman in a Nairobi slum was asked what event she would
change in her life if she could: she replied: "I would be born a man".
We work directly with poor people to discover the underlying
causes of poverty and its consequences in people's daily lives. This enables us
to develop practical ways to help and to become more responsive to poor people's