Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) Programme

The Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) programme is a 5-year flagship Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) funded programme that aims to improve women’s economic opportunities through business interventions in supply chains and economic development programmes. WOW is being delivered by a consortium of global experts at the cutting edge of women’s economic empowerment research, programme design, and delivery—including PwC, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), CARE International, the University of Manchester, and Social Development Direct.
African woman uses card machine to process payment at her market stall

The WOW programme is a 5-year flagship FCDO-funded programme that aims to improve women’s economic opportunities through business interventions in supply chains and economic development programmes. WOW is being delivered by a consortium of global experts at the cutting edge of women’s economic empowerment research, programme design, and delivery—including PwC, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), CARE International, the University of Manchester, and Social Development Direct. 

SDDirect is leading on the WOW Helpdesk which assists FCDO and other UK government departments with access to rapid technical assistance and expert analysis for guidance, and know-how to address women’s economic empowerment at different stages of programming. The Helpdesk has consistently scored highly in FCDO annual review and it was noted that:

the WOW Helpdesk continues to demonstrate excellent value for money. It has built a strong reputation across the Prosperity Fund and former DFID staff, positioning it well to support FCDO staff”. 

All Helpdesk materials are publicly available on the WOW website. The Helpdesk provides:  

  1. Regular communications updates drawing together learning from WOW and wider research and evidence on women’s economic empowerment, in the form of evidence digests;  

  1. A responsive query and programme support service, drawing on an expert pool of 90 pre-screened in-country and international specialists to respond to queries from FCDO advisers across central and country programmes; and  

  1. Proactive guidance and support on priority themes for women’s economic empowerment across Economic Development portfolio.

The demand-lead service has delivered wide-ranging support, across a range of methodologies including theory of change reviews, advice on indicators to measure change, business case design, portfolio review, evidence review, workshop delivery, Terms of Reference design, and strategy development. 

Together with PwC, SDDirect also manages the £1.8m WOW Fund that supports initiatives that drive forward the Action Agenda of the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. Initiatives supported by the Fund are delivering and demonstrating catalytic impact and contributing to global knowledge on how to empower women in three key areas: enhancing land tenure security; recognising, reducing and redistributing unpaid care work; and improving outcomes for women in informal work. 

SEWA Bharat, Promundo-US and Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising (WIEGO) are the main implementing partners. SDDirect provides technical advice and oversight to these partners to ensure they meet project targets. We also supported partners to adapt to changing circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic by helping redesign project elements in ways that are beneficial to women’s livelihoods, such as supporting women to pivot to the manufacturing of face masks when their regular work opportunities were limited by lockdowns.  

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