Work and Opportunities for Women

The Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme is a new flagship programme funded by UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

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 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 FCDO, 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)

In The Double Day (PDF, 1.22MB, 21 pages), the WOW programme explores the issue of unequal and unpaid work and care among garment workers in Bangladesh. The briefing paper presents an overview of current knowledge about unpaid care in the sector, and shares findings from primary research conducted with garment workers in 2019.

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

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 FCDO 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 FCDO 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)

WOW Helpdesk Year 1 Queries (PDF, 228KB, 3 pages) - The table summarises all the queries delivered by the WOW Helpdesk during Year 1

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

The WOW Fund supports initiatives that drive forward the Action Agenda of UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (UNHLP). The £1.8 million Fund supports select, strategic initiatives which promote long-term change in women’s economic empowerment.

The Fund complements the wider activities of the WOW programme, which works directly with global supply chains and with HMG programmes to support improved women’s economic empowerment (WEE) outcomes.

Initiatives supported by the Fund will deliver and demonstrate catalytic impact and contribute to global knowledge on how to economically empower women in 3 key areas:

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

Following a selection process in 2018, the WOW Fund is pleased to announce that grants have been awarded to support the following projects:

  • Innovations in informal land tenure awareness, rights and security for the economic empowerment of informal women workers in Delhi and Patna. Lead implementer: SEWA Bharat with implementing partners SEWA Delhi, SEWA Bihar, SEWA Grih Rin and the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS)

This project aligns with the WOW Fund priority area of enhancing women’s land tenure security. It will work with women home based and domestic workers living in informal settlements to increase their land tenure awareness and security, as well as access to infrastructure services and housing finance. This in turn will lead to increased economic opportunities for women and strengthened individual and collective agency of women to advocate for change with local and municipal authorities. Learning generated can inform wider advocacy efforts to promote security of tenure for women in informal settlements and the development of innovative finance products and services targeting women informal workers.

This project aligns with the WOW Fund priority area of recognising, reducing, and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work. Its overall aim is to support and facilitate the redistribution of unpaid care work responsibilities between women and men and to increase women’s decision-making power within the relationship, in part, to support women’s economic agency and advancement more broadly. This approach involves thoughtful and consistent dialogue with individuals and institutions with the intention of questioning, challenging, and changing harmful and restrictive gender stereotypes that perpetuate social and economic inequality. In Rwanda and South Africa, Promundo and partners will adapt Program P, a curriculum aimed at engaging men in active fatherhood from their partners’ pregnancies through their children’s early years, to increase its focus on issues specific to WEE. The initiative will also support selected government ministries and civil society actors in both countries to incorporate this approach into existing systems and institutions, including by offering trainings and ongoing support to community health workers and social work personnel. The initiative will produce evidence and learning on how to ‘scale up’ approaches aiming to redistribute unpaid care work at the household level, as well as on the links of this programming to wider WEE outcomes.

This project aligns with the WOW Fund priority area of improving outcomes for women in informal work. The WIEGO/HNSA initiative will empower home-based worker (HBW) leaders to negotiate better outcomes for their members working in precarious conditions in the garments sector. The initiative will also support the building of alliances between HBW organisations and wider civil society groups working for change in women’s working conditions in the garments industry; support exchanges between HBW leaders in South Asia and East Africa, and contribute to the emergence of a global HBW Network. The learning generated will build understanding of how to build effective negotiating strategies that improve the situation of women home-based workers and on the role of national and global organising in enabling positive change for these women.

If you have further questions about the WOW Fund, please email Sarah Pickin, WOW Fund Manager at



WOW Webinar: Understanding Invisible Labour in Supply Chains: Impact, Opportunities, and Examples - July 2020

The WOW Programme hosted a webinar on 22nd July 2020 on unpaid work and care in global supply chains, for which the recording is now available. Speakers included Baroness Sugg and representatives from The Body Shop, Primark and Promundo.

Evidence Digests

WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest - June 2018 (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, 743KB, 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.

WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest - January 2019 (PDF, 400KB, 3 pages) – This 3 page evidence digest summarises knowledge and learning from recent work done by the WOW Programme, including support to Women’s Economic Empowerment programming on Land, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Market interventions; highlights from a workshop with companies about women’s visibility and influence in global value chains; and updates on WOW engagement with UK retailers

WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest - December 2019 (PDF, 198KB, 3 pages) - The December ED shares findings from our report on addressing violence and harassment in garment factories and supply chains, features key messages from our Guidance Note on promoting WEE in the informal economy, and showcases WOW’s latest query and partnership updates.

WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest - June 2019 (PDF, 278KB, 3 pages) - Our latest Evidence Digest shares some key considerations for designing gender sensitive trade-related research or programmes in middle-income countries (MICs), addresses gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in China, and updates on our work with retailers to advance women’s rights in Bangladesh


WOW Helpdesk Guidance Number 1: Promoting Economic Empowerment for Women in the Informal Economy (PDF, 969KB, 59 pages) - This WOW Helpdesk Guidance Note aims to provide an analysis of the gender dynamics of informal work, and a set of corresponding recommendations. It is aimed at DFID and UK government advisers working on economic development, across a range of issues including agriculture, business environment, private sector development, social protection, urban and infrastructure development, digital development, and research.

WOW Helpdesk Guidance Number 2: Measurement of Women’s Economic Empowerment (PDF, 1.14MB, 54 pages) - this WOW Helpdesk Guidance Note aims to provide an international analysis of best practice in the field of WEE measurement and compare this to current DFID/HMG. As well as provide practical recommendations to increase the effectiveness and consistency in the ways that WEE is measured.

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.

Pilot 1 Commercial Agriculture Portfolio Review: WEE analysis (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, 492KB, 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 women's Economic Empowerment and Gender work of the business for shared prosperity programme (PDF, 523KB, 30 pages) - The WOW HD supported DFID Burma with a review of Gender and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) inclusion in their Business for Shared Prosperity (BSP) Programme

WOW Helpdesk Query 9: Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) (PDF, 932KB, 49 pages) - Gender Review. The WOW Helpdesk carried out a desk-based document review of Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA)’s progress on gender mainstreaming to date.

WOW Helpdesk Query 13: Evidence Overview on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SHRH) and Rights and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Programming (PDF, 286KB, 10 pages) - The WOW Helpdesk conducted a rapid evidence review on how best to use SRHR to influence demographic transition and examples of integration of WEE interventions within SRRH Programing.

WOW Helpdesk Query 14: Women’s Economic Empowerment Linked to Land Programming, A preview of evidence for DFID Ethiopia (PDF, 614KB, 33 pages) - Informed by a comprehensive evidence review and conceptual framework developed by IFPRI (2017), this Helpdesk query assessed publicly available evidence on the contribution of ‘additional interventions’ along 3 main potential impact pathways:

  • links between women’s land rights and women’s agency and decision-making
  • links between women’s land rights and interventions and increases women’s productivity/ incomes in farming and other agricultural related livelihoods
  • links between women’s land rights and improved productivity and/or income in non-agricultural Livelihoods

WOW Helpdesk Query 18: Resources on girls clubs and self-help impact on women's economic empowerment, employment and earnings (PDF, 286KB, 12 pages) - This query explores evidence on the impact of Self-Help-Groups and girls clubs on livelihoods on employment, earnings, consumption and poverty.

WOW Helpdesk Query 19: Gender and Inclusion Evidence Review (PDF, 461KB, 19 pages) - In support of the revisions to the Gender and Inclusion Policy of the Prosperity Fund, this query gathers evidence on the relationship between gender equality, WEE and growth and key drivers to ensure WEE opportunities are maximized.

WOW Helpdesk Query 20: Gender, Inclusion and Trade Thematic Brief: Integrating Gender and Inclusion into Prosperity Fund (PDF, 449KB, 31 pages) - This brief synthesises evidence on the linkages between gender, social inclusion and trade, highlighting women’s different roles in trade in selected middle-income countries (MICs). It identifies key evidence gaps relevant to the Prosperity Fund’s (PF) focus on Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to trade in MICs and identifies good practice tools, approaches and interventions integrating gender, social analysis and appraisal into trade programming to support gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth.

WOW Helpdesk Query 21: China Country Brief (PDF, 446KB, 17 pages) - The country brief identifies key gender gaps and barriers in China related to PF areas of intervention, what is the enabling environment in China for address gender inequality and promoting WEE and what are the opportunities for PF programmes to address Gender and Inclusion and WEE.

WOW Helpdesk Query 22: Violence and harassment, including sexual harassment, in garment factories and supply chains (PDF, 475KB, 33 pages) - This query maps existing evidence on the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in the garment sector. It is informed by a comprehensive review covering a wide range of garment-producing countries and methodologies.

WOW Helpdesk Query 24: Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE) Key facts (PDF, 533KB, 20 pages) - This query lists key facts about investments, entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment. The facts were selected on an assessment of the strength and breath of the evidence and the credibility of the sources.

WOW Helpdesk Query 25: Tax and Women's Economic Empowerment (PDF, 460KB, 21 pages) - This slide-pack provides compelling arguments, backed up with robust and clearly stated evidence on why DFID should incorporate a gender and Women Economic Empowerment lens in their work on tax policy, what are entry points to implement this and a selection of case studies showing the benefits of a greater focus on women’s economic empowerment within the tax field.

WOW Helpdesk Query 26: Women’s Economic Empowerment Measurements (PDF, 843KB, 37 pages) - This WOW Helpdesk query is a stock take of existing practices in measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment in DFID and HMG economic development programmes.

WOW Helpdesk Query 27: Incorporating gender equality into the re-design of the Good Governance Fund in Moldova (PDF, 673KB, 24 pages) - This query aims to ensure gender equality, social inclusion and women’s economic empowerment are integrated within the programme design of the next phase of GGF Moldova, through inclusion within a revised theory of change and identification of suitable entry points based on pre-existing programme history and a rapid gender/women’s economic empowerment analysis.

WOW Helpdesk Query 28: Women’s Economic Empowerment and GESI within Horn of Africa (PDF, 324KB, 18 pages) - The aim of this query it to inform the design of the Prosperity Fund Horn of Africa Programme to ensure greatest potential for transformative outcomes to women entrepreneurs, traders and market actors in Ethiopia and Somaliland, with sustainability in mind.

WOW Helpdesk Query 29: Decent work for Women Workers in the Ready-Made Garment Industry in Sub-Saharan Africa (PDF, 613KB, 43 pages) - This query explores priority issues and interventions that will contribute to ensuring work for women workers in the emerging ready-made apparel sector in sub-Saharan Africa, with predominant focus on rights at work and social dialogue pillars in line with ILO core labour standards and the principle of ‘Decent Work’.

WOW Helpdesk Query 31: Violence against Women Border Traders (PDF, 700KB, 36 pages) - A rapid evidence review to understand the context of violence and coercion by officials, especially customs officials, at border crossings to inform the customs element of a new DFID-funded tax and customs programmes.

WOW Helpdesk Query 32: Transitions to the Labour Market within Girls Education Challenge (PDF, 989KB, 35 pages) - The report and WOW Helpdesk Query 32: presentation (MS Powerpoint Presentation, 417KB) explores ways of transition from basic education to obtaining better jobs in the labour market for adolescent girls and young women in conservative and conflict–affected FATA, Sindh and Balochistan provinces in Pakistan, aiming at maximising programmatic potential for economic empowerment for women and girls, and define ways to measure progress towards this aim.

WOW Helpdesk Query 33: Strengthening Gender and Social Inclusion (with focus on Women’s Economic Empowerment) within the Global Infrastructure Programme (PDF, 1.14MB, 55 pages) - This query aims to understand what types of infrastructure development and delivery related interventions within the Global Infrastructure Development Programme (GIP) have the greatest potential to strengthen women’s economic empowerment outcomes, achieving an ambition aimed at “empowerment” in the PF G&I framework.

WOW Helpdesk Query 34: Women’s Economic Empowerment Presentation to newly elected Mayors and Governors in Colombia (in Spanish) (PDF, 2.08MB, 45 pages) - The slide pack raise awareness and build capacity of newly elected Colombian Mayors and Governors on Gender and Inclusion and Women’s Economic Empowerment and how these can be integrated into sub-national government policies, plans and projects.

WOW Helpdesk Query 36: Trade Preferences and Women’s Economic Empowerment (PDF, 558KB, 28 pages) - This brief explores the existing linkages between unilateral trade preferences and women’s economic empowerment, with the objective of providing a series of recommendations for the future UK Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

WOW Helpdesk Query 41: Tod@s cuentan en el gobierno local. Equidad de género e inclusión social en planes de desarrollo territorial (PDF, 874KB, 27 pages) - This query created a G&I and WEE Toolkit for newly elected Colombian Mayors and Governors that raises awareness and builds their capacity on how WEE/G&I can be integrated into sub-national government policies, plans and projects.

WOW Helpdesk Query 42: Women’s Economic Empowerment and Standards and Regulatory Reform (PDF, 536KB, 35 pages) - This report provides assistance to HMG’s offices for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) in the design of interventions for current and future Prosperity Fund programmes.

WOW Helpdesk query 45: The Armenia Good Fund and Gender and Equality, Support for a Theory of Change review (PDF, 582KB, 28 pages) - This report was produced to support DFID and FCO-funded Good Governance Fund Armenia to integrate women’s economic empowerment into the design of the next phase of their economic programming.

WOW Helpdesk Query 50: Taxes and duties for sanitary products in Africa (PDF, 415KB, 16 pages) - This helps understand which countries in Africa have removed taxes/duties from sanitary products and what results have emanated from these policy decision including on the economic empowerment of girls and women.

WOW Helpdesk Query 51: Input to Terms of References for a Socioeconomic Study for TAWDIF II, Algeria (PDF, 318KB, 15 pages) - Assesses the robustness of the Terms of Reference developed on “socio-economic study on gender in job search and recruitment: identification of barriers to women’s economic participation and proposals for corrective actions to stakeholders”, to increase the probability of the study to provide solid evidence on the barriers that Algerian young women face in transitions from education to decent work and is able to identify strategies to overcome these barriers.

WOW Helpdesk Query 52: Women’s Economic Empowerment during the COVID-19 Pandemic: a Rapid Review of Impacts and Responses for Economic Relief and Recovery (PDF, 721KB, 18 pages) - A rapid review of evidence from web searches and key sources, with the aim to provide early examples of evidence, practices, and key issues for consideration. Evidence has primarily focused on low- and middle-income countries, but also on higher income countries where relevant information could be applicable.

WOW Helpdesk Query 53: Implications of COVID-19 on women informal workers (PDF, 564KB, 16 pages) - A rapid review of existing written evidence, with the purpose to share “real-time” information about what is happening to women in relation to informal workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have a zero-tolerance policy on misconduct, including fraud, corruption, and sexual harassment 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:

If you would like more information on the whistle-blowing mechanism, or to report misconduct please contact us through any of the following mechanisms:

We will follow up matters on an anonymous basis and are committed to investigate claims thoroughly and fairly.

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 24 August 2020 + show all updates
  1. WOW Helpdesk Query 53: Implications of COVID-19 on women informal workers added

  2. Link to WOW Webinar: Understanding Invisible Labour in Supply Chains: Impact, Opportunities, and Examples - July 2020 added.

  3. The Double Day report added

  4. WOW Helpdesk Query 18: Resources on girls clubs and self-help groups impact on women’s economic empowerment, employment and earning added.

  5. Section 4 - The Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) fund updated.

  6. WOW Helpdesk Evidence Digest: January 2019 added

  7. Three new reports added: 1. WOW Helpdesk Query 9: Trade Mark East Africa (MEA): Gender Review 2. WOW Helpdesk Query 13: Evidence Overview on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SHRH) and Rights and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Programming 3. WOW Helpdesk Query 14: Women’s Economic Empowerment Linked to Land Programming: A preview of evidence for DFID Ethiopia

  8. Frequently asked questions document added

  9. Resources now added.

  10. First published.