Rethinking ‘women’s work'


How much economic potential is lost each year due to women’s under-participation in Kinshasa’s economy? The short answer is a lot.

Throughout the world, women’s economic participation is highly restricted. This limits the contribution women could otherwise make, with negative implications for the global economy. Women’s non- or under-participation is particularly stark in the DRC, where women comprise just 20% of permanent workers in the formal sector. Their access to and control over economic assets is significantly limited; and a disproportionate share of the unpaid care burden falls to women, further hindering their ability to engage in productive activities.


While extensive international evidence exists on the commercial case for women’s full and valued economic participation, no comparable localised data is available for DRC, or more specifically for Kinshasa – widely considered to be the country’s future growth engine. Without such evidence, convincing businesses in DRC of the commercial benefits associated with women’s full and valued economic participation can be difficult.

ÉLAN RDC a cherché à fournir les "données manquantes" et à estimer les gains économiques potentiels qui pourraient être obtenus en améliorant la participation des femmes dans des secteurs clés de l'économie de Kinshasa. C’est dans ce cadre que l'étude intitulée "Repenser le" travail des femmes " a été publiée: Comment augmenter la participation des femmes pourrait augmenter les revenus des entreprises Kinshasa d’un montant pouvant aller jusqu’à 1 milliard de dollars ?

ÉLAN RDC sought to provide the "missing data" and to estimate the potential economic gains that can be made improving women’s participation in key sectors of Kinshasa’s economy and published the study, Rethinking ‘women’s work’: How enhancing female participation could increase business revenues in Kinshasa by up to US$ 1 billion.

Among the study’s multiple conclusions, the principal finding is that collectively, enhancing female participation on the supply-side could increase business revenues in Kinshasa from US$1.5 to US$2.5 billion per annum.

Read the full report or executive summary in English here.

As part of the launch, ÉLAN RDC, Global Compact and UN Women co-hosted the Women Drive Growth event in October. CEOs, HR Directors and executives of most major companies in Kinshasa were presented the data on how they can unlock growth by better including women as executives, employees and by targeting them as consumers.

ÉLAN RDC hopes the event will be the starting point for a process of behaviour change in which the major players in the private sector in Kinshasa:

  • Acknowledge women's existing contributions and / or untapped economic potential (supply side) and make concrete and public commitments to increase and improve conditions for their participation in their own workforce / supplier base;

  • Recognize the interest of women as consumers (in terms of demand) and make concrete and public commitments to better design and market products and services that meet the needs of women.