Advancing gender equality drives tremendous gains in health, education, employment, and improved livelihoods – both for women and girls themselves and for their broader families and communities. However, in many parts of the world, women and girls still face legal, economic, and political constraints that prevent them from participating fully and equally in society. CGD is focused on the ways that governments, donor institutions, and the private sector can help create conditions for women and girls in low- and middle-income countries to thrive, focusing on barriers to their security and equal participation in the economy, politics, and society at large.


The annual Birdsall House Conference on Women identifies and brings attention to leading research and scholarly findings on women’s empowerment in the field of development economics.

woman working in Africa

Consistent with CGD’s broad approach to development, our research posits that real economic empowerment for women will require approaches beyond those traditionally used (e.g. micro loans and grants, training programs, and mentorship networks. We seek to determine how to make gender equality central to discussions about economic growth and fiscal policy.

CGD’s Girls Count initiative examined ways to improve the welfare of girls and young women in developing countries. Its influential 2008 report was re-released in 2009 as part of a series in partnership with the Nike Foundation and the United Nations Foundation