Work and Opportunities for Women

The Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme is a new flagship programme funded by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

UK aid and WOW logo


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 aims to enhance the economic empowerment of 300,000 women working in global value chains and work with 35 DFID 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 women’s economic empowerment (WEE); enabling players across the supply chain ecosystem to drive change; and influencing the UK and global agenda on women’s economic empowerment.

It is being delivered by an alliance of global experts at the cutting edge of women’s economic empowerment research, program design, and delivery. PwC leads this alliance that includes BSR, CARE International, the University of Manchester, and Social Development Direct.

Four areas of activity

1. Partnerships with business to improve women’s participation in supply chains.

Businesses improve women’s access to higher-return and higher-productivity jobs and roles in supply chains, with improving working conditions.

WOW’s unique approach,the first of its kind for DFID, 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 women’s 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 women’s work in supply chains.

Women’s work in supply chains is made more visible, to improve global knowledge on women’s 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 WOW’s 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)

3. Increased knowledge and support for delivering women’s economic empowerment through economic development programmes.

DFID and 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 DFID 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 DFID 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, 220KB, 2 pages)

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

Multiple partnerships and initiatives will be identified and supported to respond to the drivers of change identified in the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (UNHLP) report.

The WOW Fund will directly support initiatives and partnerships that sustain the momentum created by the UNHLP to deliver transformative change in women’s economic empowerment.

The WOW Fund will focus its support on 3 priority areas:

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

To ensure maximum impact from this £1.8 million fund, WOW will select a small number of initiatives, which have the potential to further the UNHLP agenda through catalytic impact and/or global learning, during the 5 years of the programme 2017 to 2022.

The WOW Fund is closed and no longer accepting concept notes. Those shortlisted will be contacted in due course.

Launch webinar video

If you have further questions about the WOW Fund, please e-mail Veronica Martinez Tamayo, WOW Fund Coordinator –


  • Helpdesk pilot 1 - Commercial Agriculture Portfolio Review (PDF, 607KB, 34 pages) The Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) Helpdesk supported the DFID Commercial Agriculture Team (Growth and Resilience Department) to build on the analysis of a recent review of the DFID commercial agriculture portfolio, to consider the gender responsiveness of the programmes
  • WOW Helpdesk Query 1: Time Use Data (PDF, 2.1MB, 37 pages) The Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) Helpdesk supported the DFID Research and Evidence Division (RED) with a desk review to identify and discuss the sources and applications of data on paid and unpaid labour. It provides an overview of the current state of global databases on women’s labour force participation, and on paid and unpaid work. It addresses issues of data availability and comparability, as well as ways in which these data have been used in relation to addressing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment (WEE)
  • WOW Helpdesk Query 2: Mapping of Good Practices (PDF, 482KB, 28 pages) The Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) Helpdesk supported DFID Occupied Palestinian Territories with a mapping of good practice examples of economic development (EcDev) programmes that have sought to include and empower marginalized groups, in particular women and persons with disability (PwD). The sectoral focus is strengthening/rehabilitation of energy and water infrastructure, as well as interventions to boost trade, particularly through direct business support and Industrial Zones
  • WOW Helpdesk Query 5: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Interventions in the Workplace and Women's Economic Empowerment (PDF, 397KB, 17 pages) The Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) Helpdesk supported the DFID Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Team with a rapid, desk-based review of the evidence on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) interventions in the workplace and women’s economic empowerment (WEE)
  • WOW Helpdesk Query 6: Review of WEE and Gender (PDF, 543KB, 32 pages) The Work Opportunities for Women (WOW) Helpdesk supported DFID Burma with a review of Gender and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) inclusion in their Business for Shared Prosperity (BSP) Programme

  • Discussion paper on Modern Slavery (PDF, 1.41MB, 26 pages) . This paper explores how increasing the economic empowerment of women in global value chains can reduce the risk of modern slavery.
  • WOW research brief on women workers in Global Value Chains (PDF, 245KB, 6 pages) . This document provides an overview of WOW research. It is the first of a planned series of Research Briefings that will be produced at different stages during the WOW programme
  • WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest (PDF, 611KB, 3 pages) . This 3 page evidence digest summarises knowledge and learning from recent work done by the WOW Helpdesk for DFID, including on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) in FCAS, Time Use Data, and a portfolio review of DFID’s Commercial Agriculture portfolio
  • WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest: October 2018 (PDF, 764KB, 3 pages) . This 3 page evidence digest summarises knowledge and learning from recent work done by the WOW Programme, including Sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) interventions in the work place for Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) and links WEE and tackling Modern Slavery in value chains.

We have a zero-tolerance policy to fraud and corruption on our programme. Should you have any queries relating to the management of WOW and/or our policies, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team using the following email:

Management information

WOW is managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in alliance with BSR, CARE International, the University of Manchester, and Social Development Direct.

Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW)
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
7 More London Riverside


Published 21 March 2018
Last updated 26 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. Frequently asked questions document added
  2. Resources now added.
  3. First published.