Women's Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality (WEDGE)

The ILO's Women's Entrepreneurship Development programme (ILO-WED) is part of the Small Enterprise Development Programme (EMP/SEED). ILO-WED works on enhancing economic opportunities for women by carrying out affirmative actions in support of women starting, formalizing and growing their enterprises, and by mainstreaming gender equality issues into the ILO's work in enterprise development. This approach to WED is highlighted in the ILO WED Strategy that was adopted by the Governing Body in March, 2008.

The ILO-WED approach is threefold, working with governments, employers' organizations, trade unions, and local community-based organizations to: create an enabling environment for WED that generates quality jobs; build institutional capacity in WED; and development of tools and support services for women entrepreneurs. It does so both through targeted approaches and gender mainstreaming, with a clear objective to contribute towards gender equality and women's economic empowerment.

ILO-WED Strategy was built from the expertise developed under WEDGE, (Women's Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality).  WEDGE is comprised of technical cooperation projects that are funded by donors such as Irish Aid and NORAD and enable the WED strategy to be operationalised. Building on local partnerships, WEDGE projects have developed a series of tools and approaches, based on the research and experience from pilot projects organized with local partners and country offices. WED has been working with the ILO/SKILLS department to mainstream disability into women’s entrepreneurship development, targeting women with disabilities and HIV/AIDS within WEDGE projects. The WED Strategy provides a flexible and innovative response to promote women's entrepreneurship development based on local needs and circumstances.  Gender Equality is and will remain at the forefront of the WED strategy.


Contact List - Women's Entrepreneurship Development Focal Points



WED has created partnerships in the past with the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the International Trade Centre, and with the office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees.  More recently, WEDGE (Women Entrepreneurship and Gender Equality), a project of WED has worked with DFID, Norway, and Irish Aid.  WEDGE project initiatives are now active in the following countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa: Palestine, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, and Mozambique.  WEDGE also has Activities in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan.  Special attention has been given to Developing Entrepreneurship among Women with Disabilities (DEWD), a sub-group of WEDGE.


We thank the generous support of our partners: Irish Aid, NORAD, and DFID