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Your step by step guide to researching funding for women’s economic empowerment and women’s financia

Launch of new guides for tracking international finance

Do you want to know who is funding women’s financial inclusion in Nepal? Are you keen to track funding to support unpaid care work in Uganda? Do you know which groups of women funders most often cite in their women’s economic empowerment funding?

For the past two years Publish What You Fund, through our Women’s Economic Empowerment project, has developed and piloted a new approach to track funding to women’s economic empowerment (WEE), women’s financial inclusion (WFI), women’s empowerment collectives (WECs), and to assess funders’ gender integration.

When we set out on this initiative our objective was to produce new, granular insights into which aspects of WEE received funding. We also wanted to develop a replicable, country-based approach for tracking this funding that could be used and adapted by decision makers, researchers, and advocates for their own purposes – including holding funders accountable and/or advocating for different investments.

What is covered in the guides?

Based on our experience in researching funding in Kenya, Bangladesh, and Nigeria, we have created step by step guides on how to track international funding to WEE and WFI at the country level. Specifically, the guides:

  • Provide direction on how to choose the data sets that best meet user needs;

  • Identify how to track gender intentionality and how to tailor the research to account for a particular country context;

  • Explain the different approaches to tracking funding for WEE and WFI, along with guidance on how to manually review potential projects and how to categorise them for further analysis; and

  • Suggest areas for additional analysis depending on areas of interest.

Developing our definitions and methodology, as well as creating and then implementing our research against our country data bases, has been a resource and time intensive undertaking. For this reason, we are keen to share our learnings from this innovative and rigorous approach as well as to suggest ways in which users could adapt the processes based on interests, needs, and capacities.

Our starting point: a holistic and rights-based definition of WEE

We convened expert advisory groups in Kenya, Nigeria, and Bangladesh as well as global experts at the beginning of the project to understand what should be included in the scope of what we tracked and what evidence would be useful for conversations with policy makers and funders. These conversations provided a clear consensus on the way forward: a holistic and rights-based definition of WEE. Working with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), we developed a framework that captured a broad range of projects that directly support income earning, as well as projects which both support greater economic rights for women and girls and create an enabling environment for WEE. The importance of addressing women and girls’ unpaid care work was evident from these discussions so we added a focused analysis on unpaid care to our research. This holistic framing of WEE is a key feature of these guides.

As we applied our methodology to the data, we made iterative improvements to refine our approach. The findings from our efforts are detailed in our Kenya, Bangladesh, and Nigeria country report series. Our reports outline top funders in each country, which aspects/types of WEE and WFI activities receive funding and clear gaps, which groups of women funders aim to support with this funding, and whether WEE or WFI were funded as a primary objective or a sub-component of a broader development programme.

Our detailed methodologies and approach to combining data sets are all available on our website.

A new approach to merging development datasets

To capture the broadest universe of potential WEE projects, we developed an innovative approach that involved merging four data sources into a single country dataset.[1] We captured both grant and non-grant (loans, guarantees and equity) funding from bilateral, multilateral, development finance institutions, and philanthropic organisations. This previously untried approach required significant cleaning of the data and quality checks as we applied our methodology to each of the country datasets. However, it also allowed us to identify the broadest range of potential projects.

We recognise that this level of research requires both significant data skills and capacity. For that reason, we designed our guides to be flexible, allowing for the use of one or a combination of data sources according to researchers needs, capacity, and time constraints. The guides signpost to our data collection methodologies where we weigh the strengths and drawbacks of respective data sources to assist other researchers as they replicate these efforts.

For anyone wishing to undertake similar research in their own country contexts, these two step by step guides are a great place to start. They describe how you can collect and analyse international funding data to better understand the funding directed to WEE and gender equality according to your needs and interests.

Download the guides:

Let us know what you think of these guides or if you are able to undertake this tracking in your own country. We are interested to hear about your experience or to talk with you about ours. You can reach us at

[1] The four data sources used for this study included: the OECD-DAC CRS, IATI, Candid and CGAP Funder Survey.


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