About the Challenge

Women and girls in Africa and the Middle East continue to face cultural and social norms blocking  them from full economic and social participation. These have serious consequences for women, including discrimination in hiring; harassment and physical violence; restrictions on mobility; lack of rights to control income and own property; and unequal share of unpaid care work.

Widespread solutions to overcome these barriers have been twofold: the promotion of jobs and women as entrepreneurs. These alone are not enough to overcome deeper structural and systemic barriers. It is increasingly clear that collaboration – alliances for change – are necessary to bridge the divide. Together, individuals and institutions from the nonprofit, government, philanthropic, and business sectors can maximize their diverse perspectives, resources, and influence to challenge the status quo and improve outcomes together.


How can we support collaboration that enables women to actively participate in the economy and reach their full potential?


The Challenging Norms, Powering Economies challenge seeks to connect women changemakers who are collaborating with unlikely partners – across businesses, governments, and many other sectors – while supporting their organizations’ efforts to promote gender equality and economic empowerment.

We seek collaborative solutions with the power to:

  • Create environments that enable women to access credit and/or other products and services
  • Challenge restrictive gender norms and limits to women’s roles in the economy
  • Ensure greater access for women to cultural, social, and political arenas while increasing their economic power
  • Advocate for women’s rights in sectors where they face discrimination
  • Improve access to support mechanisms ensuring women have a voice in decisions and policies that shape their economic livelihoods