Economic Empowerment of Women

We work to remove the barriers that limit women’s participation in Pacific economies. 

Economies grow faster with women’s full participation. However, discriminatory laws, social norms, and customary practices, as well as low control over assets, low levels of support and a lack of awareness about how to start a business are limiting the ability of Pacific women to engage in business activities to the same extent as men.

Women are economically disadvantaged in the Pacific region. Discriminatory laws, social norms, and customary practices, alongside low control over assets, low levels of support, and a lack of awareness about how to start a business limit Pacific women’s ability to engage in business activities to the same extent as men.

PSDI’s economic empowerment of women works to clear pathways for women to enter the formal economy, focusing on:

  • the creation of new businesses by women that generate economic activity in both urban centers and rural areas;
  • the expansion of the formal labor market;
  • the enrichment of business leadership through the participation of women who bring different skills and perspectives;
  • higher business productivity, on which long-term growth depends; and
  • the improvement of women’s confidence and autonomy to contribute to their communities.


These considerations inform all of PSDI’s work in developing policy frameworks, introducing legal reforms, mainstreaming gender into all programs, and evaluating pilot programs.

Economic Empowerment of Women and COVID-19

For more information on PSDI's Economic Empowerment of Women focus area and COVID-19, click here. 

Economic Empowerment of Women at a glance

Women and Business

in the Pacific report published September 2018.

More women on SOE boards

Female representation on SOE boards increased by an average of 76% in Fiji, Marshall Islands and Samoa.

Leadership potential realized

Through pilot projects providing skills training, networking and mentoring in Fiji, PNG, and Tonga
Latest News
19 July 2022
Proud of success so far, and more progress possible on women in business leadership—PSDI Leadership Matters event in Cook Islands

Almost 30 government, business, and civil society representatives in the Cook Islands have gathered to discuss the findings of PSDI's Leadership Matters study on women in Pacific business leadership.

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7 July 2022
Respond to 'challenges of today' with more women in Samoa business leadership—PSDI Leadership Matters event

More than 30 government, business, and civil society representatives in Samoa have gathered to discuss the findings of PSDI's Leadership Matters study on women in Pacific business leadership.

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1 June 2022
Access to Finance, Business Registration Awareness Key for Tongan Informal Sector Assistance

A new, PSDI-supported informal business survey in Tonga will help inform government programs and business services for the country's informal sector, Economic Empowerment of Women Expert Sarah Boxall says.

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8 April 2022
ADB hosts PSDI Leadership Matters roundtable in Marshall Islands

Government, business, and civil society representatives in the Republic of the Marshall Islands have convened to discuss the findings of PSDI's Leadership Matters study on women in Pacific business leadership.

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Key Publications
Economic Empowerment of Women 2022
Economic Empowerment of Women 2022
This infographic brochure illustrates PSDI’s work and key achievements in its Economic Empowerment of Women focus area.
Leadership Matters: Benchmarking Women's Business Leadership in the Pacific
Leadership Matters: Benchmarking Women's Business Leadership...
Leadership Matters: Benchmarking Women in Business Leadership in the Pacific collects and analyzes data on women’s representation on boards and in senior management in the 14 Pacific developing member countries of the Asian Development Bank.
PSDI Annual Progress Report FY2019–2020
PSDI Annual Progress Report FY2019–2020
This report gives an overview of PSDI activities from July 2019 to June 2020.
PSDI 2007-2019 Activities and Results Overview
PSDI 2007-2019 Activities and Results Overview
PSDI ended its third funding phase on 31 December 2019. This brochure, designed to mark the end of that phase, highlights key activities and results during PSDI's first three phases (2007-2019).
PSDI Country Overviews April 2020
PSDI Country Overviews April 2020
What is PSDI doing in the Pacific? These factsheets provide an overview of all PSDI activities in the Pacific up to April 2020.
PSDI Annual Progress Report 2018–2019
PSDI Annual Progress Report 2018–2019
This report gives an overview of PSDI activities from July 2018 to June 2019.