Gender Equality in Rwanda

Rwanda has become a world leader in the field of gender equality, thanks to laws and policies that are creating a generation of women who are leaders, businesswomen, and entrepreneurs. This is providing an example for countries everywhere, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

IMF Gender Experience at the 2017 IMF/WB Annual Meetings

Gender Budgeting and Gender Equality Database

Videos on Gender


Q1. Which region had the biggest increase in women’s educational attainment over the last 20 years?

A) Asia and Pacific
B) Europe
C) Latin America

Find the answer

It’s the Asia and Pacific Region, where the ratio of women in secondary education surpassed Europe by 2014.

Q2. How many countries have introduced an initiative to promote women’s equality in the annual budget?

A) Fewer than 30
B) 30 – 50 countries
C) More than 50

Find the answer

Our new series of working papers provides information on almost 60 countries that have introduced gender budgeting.

Q3. Which of the following countries put measures into the annual budget to promote gender equality?

A) Rwanda
B) Belgium
C) Mexico

Find the answer

All of the above. Rwanda, in particular, integrated gender goals throughout its budget and into its public financial management system. It also put in place an effective monitoring of its progress.

Latest Research

What is Driving Women's Financial Inclusion Across Countries?

March 5, 2018
Using a broad set of macroeconomic country characteristics to supplement a new and comprehensive micro-level dataset for 140 countries, we identify structural factors, policies, and individual characteristics that are associated with financial inclusion—in general, and for women in particular. We find that structural country characteristics, such as resource-richness and level of development, and policies, such as stronger institutions, and financial development are significantly related to financial inclusion. We find a robust negative relationship between being female and financial inclusion as in previous studies, and our analysis points to legal discrimination, lack of protection from harassment, including at the work place, and more diffuse gender norms as possible explanatory factors.

#IMFGender Stories

In February 2016, the IMF launched an online campaign for innovative women to share their stories under the hashtag #IMFGender. The stories we received were powerful and inspirational. Women are using every tool possible to advance and lift-up their communities. Below are some of the inspiring stories women shared with us:

Maria Umar

Maria Umar

Pakistan— Founder and President of The Digital League

Read her story

The person. Maria is from Pakistan and is involved with capacity training in a remote northern area of Pakistan in partnership with a local NGO. In the first 2 months they have trained over 200 locals in various online work skills. In addition, Maria is an advisor to Think Global Institute, a nonprofit global business accelerator. Maria also fills the role of mentor and inspired leader.

The Initiative: Training rural Pakistani Women in micro online tasks. The organization focuses on all kinds of computer-based services such as affordable content writing, virtual assistance, Facebook/Blackberry/iPhone apps, CRM systems, CMS systems, website development, and videography to clients all over the world.

Marcela Alves

Marcela Alves

Brazil—Co-founder of Empowerit team

Read her story

The person. Marcela is a software developer at the Institute of Projects and Research of the Ceará State University in Brazil. She graduated in Computer Science in 2015, with an exchange program at Arizona State University.

The Initiative: She created an application that connects corporations with female entrepreneurs. Marcela Alves and her partner Brenda Miranda created an online tool called Empower-it. It is designed to help corporations connect with women entrepreneurs to do business with each other. The applications allow women to register their business and make the first contact based on the results of searches done through some specific filters such as sectors of industry or company certification.

Lina Ben Mhenni

Lina Ben Mhenni

Tunisia — The blogger of the Jasmine revolution

Read her story

The person. Lina is a blogger and activist who had a prominent role during the Tunisia revolution. She has been awarded the Deutsche Welle International Blog Award and El Mundo’s International Journalism Prize.

The Initiative: The blogger of the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia. She was one of the few bloggers who was able to blog from ground zero of the revolution in Tunisia. Through her accounts and photos, she managed to mirror the situation inside the country in the media worldwide.


What is Driving Women's Financial Inclusion Across Countries?

March 5, 2018
Using a broad set of macroeconomic country characteristics to supplement a new and comprehensive micro-level dataset for 140 countries, we identify structural factors, policies, and individual characteristics that are associated with financial inclusion—in general, and for women in particular. We find that structural country characteristics, such as resource-richness and level of development, and policies, such as stronger institutions, and financial development are significantly related to financial inclusion. We find a robust negative relationship between being female and financial inclusion as in previous studies, and our analysis points to legal discrimination, lack of protection from harassment, including at the work place, and more diffuse gender norms as possible explanatory factors.

Women, Work, and Economic Growth : Leveling the Playing Field

February 15, 2017
Women make up a little over half of the world’s population, but their contribution to measured economic activity and growth is far below its potential. Despite significant progress in recent decades, labor markets across the world remain divided along gender lines, and progress toward gender equality seems to have stalled. The challenges of growth, job creation, and inclusion are closely intertwined. This volume brings together key research by IMF economists on issues related to gender and macroeconomics. In addition to providing policy prescriptions and case studies from IMF member countries, the chapters also look at the gender gap from an economic point of view.

Women at Work in Latin America and the Caribbean

February 14, 2017
Women across the world remain an underutilized resource in the labor force. Participation in the labor force averages around 80 percent for men but only 50 percent for women – nearly half of women’s productive potential remains untapped compared to one-fifth for men. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), as a region, saw the largest gains in female labor force participation (LFP) in the world during the last two decades. Women in LAC are becoming increasingly active in paid work, closing the gap with men and catching up to their counterparts in advanced economies at an impressive rate. In this paper, we document the recent trends in female LFP and female education in the LAC region, discuss the size of potential gains to GDP from increasing female LFP and policies which could be deployed towards this goal.

Gender Diversity in the Executive Board

September 23, 2016
The Report reflects discussion among Executive Directors on June 7, 2016 and responds to the April 16, 2016 Communique of the Thirty-Third Meeting of the IMFC which stated that "We reiterate the importance of maintaining the high quality and improving the regional, gender, and education diversity of the IMF's staff, and of promoting gender diversity in the Executive Board."

Europe: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts

July 28, 2016
This paper surveys European gender budgeting efforts, which have enjoyed sustained support for more than a decade and a half. In a number of countries, gender budgeting led to significant changes in budget legislation and administrative practices. In some countries, it is also possible to tie gender budgeting efforts to expenditure and revenue policy reforms. At a time of continued fiscal austerity in Europe, gender budgeting can help inform fiscal policies to ensure gender-related goals are met. Civil society has played an active role in advocating for effective gender budgeting.

Caribbean and Pacific Islands: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts

July 28, 2016
Of the countries in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, Timor-Leste has the most well-developed gender budgeting initiative. In the Pacific Islands, a few gender budgeting efforts were initiated but did not continue. In the Caribbean, there have been no well-developed gender budgeting efforts, although governments have undertaken policies to promote gender equality. We provide a number of recommendations to improve the effectiveness of gender budgeting efforts. Governments should link gender budgeting to national development plans, set realistic time expectations for achieving results, engage in capacity building with officials, draw upon strengths outside the government, and strengthen regional coordination.

Western Hemisphere: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts

July 28, 2016
Gender budgeting is an approach to fiscal policy and administration that integrates considerations of women’s equality and advancement into the budget. Latin American countries have undertaken diverse gender budgeting initiatives, most of them addressing public expenditures. This paper surveys and assesses some key initiatives, including those in Mexico, Mexico City, Ecuador, Bolivia, and El Salvador, and briefly summarizes others. The five key initiatives offer different perspectives on how countries approach gender budgeting. We find that these initiatives are contributing to the reduction of gender inequality and the advancement of women in Latin America, though there is scope to strengthen them.

Sub-Saharan Africa: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts

July 28, 2016
Gender budgeting is an initiative to use fiscal policy and administration to address gender inequality and women’s advancement. A large number of sub-Saharan African countries have adopted gender budgeting. Two countries that have achieved notable success in their efforts are Uganda and Rwanda, both of which have integrated gender-oriented goals into budget policies, programs, and processes in fundamental ways. Other countries have made more limited progress in introducing gender budgeting into their budget-making. Leadership by the ministry of finance is critical for enduring effects, although nongovernmental organizations and parliamentary bodies in sub-Saharan Africa play an essential role in advocating for gender budgeting.

Middle East and Central Asia:A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts

July 28, 2016
Gender budgeting uses fiscal policies to promote gender equality and women’s advancement, but is struggling to take hold in the Middle East and Central Asia. We provide an overview of two gender budgeting efforts in the region—Morocco and Afghanistan. Achievements in these two countries include increasing female primary and secondary education enrollment rates and reducing maternal mortality. But the region not only needs to use fiscal policies for women’s advancement, but also reform tax and financial laws, enforce laws that assure women’s safety in public, and change laws that prevent women from taking advantage of employment opportunities.

Asia: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts

July 28, 2016
This paper reviews gender budgeting efforts in Asia. The countries in the region have achieved mixed success in improving gender equality. Gender budgeting is ideally a fiscal innovation that translates gender-related goals into budgetary commitments and can help countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with regard to gender equality. India has a sustainable gender budgeting model for the region, while a few countries in the region have begun such efforts more recently. The legislative mandates for gender budgeting in the Philippines and South Korea are remarkable achievements and are contributing to their efforts.

Gender Budgeting: Fiscal Context and Current Outcomes

July 28, 2016
Gender budgeting is an approach to budgeting that uses fiscal policy and administration to promote gender equality and girls and women’s development. This paper posits that, properly designed, gender budgeting improves budgeting, and it places budgeting for this purpose in the context of sound budgeting principles and practices. The paper provides an overview of the policies and practices associated with gender budgeting as they have emerged across the world, as well as examples of the most prominent initiatives in every region of the world. Finally, it suggests what can be learned from these initiatives.

Gender Equality and Economic Diversification

July 14, 2016
The paper shows that gender inequality decreases the variety of goods countries produce and export, in particular in low-income and developing countries. It argues that this happens through at least two channels: first, gender gaps in opportunity, such as lower educational enrollment rates for girls than for boys, harm diversification by constraining the potential pool of human capital available in an economy. Second, gender gaps in the labor market impede the development of new ideas by decreasing the efficiency of the labor force. The empirical estimates support these hypotheses, providing evidence that gender-friendly policies could help countries diversify their economies.

Inequality, Gender Gaps and Economic Growth : Comparative Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa

June 8, 2016
A growing body of empirical evidence suggests that inequality—income or gender related—can impede economic growth. Using dynamic panel regressions and new time series data, this paper finds that both income and gender inequalities, including from legal gender-based restrictions, are jointly negatively associated with per capita GDP growth.

Unlocking Female Employment Potential in Europe: Drivers and Benefits

March 1, 2016
With an aging population and declining productivity growth, Europe faces serious challenges to raising its output growth. Adding to these challenges are the various gender gaps in the labor market. Despite significant progress in recent decades, there are still fewer women than men participating in Europe’s labor market, and women are more likely to work part time.
Furthermore, a smaller share of women reaches the top rungs of the corporate ladder. Could greater gender equality in the labor market help mitigate the slowdown in Europe’s growth potential?

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Trends in Gender Equality and Women’s Advancement

February 10, 2016
This paper examines trends in indicators of gender equality and women’s development, using evidence derived from individual indicators and gender equality indices. We extend both the United Nations Development Program’s Gender Development Index and Gender Inequality Index to examine time trends. In recent decades, the world has moved closer to gender equality and narrowed gaps in education, health, and economic and political opportunity; however, substantial differences remain, especially in South Asia, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. The results suggest countries can make meaningful improvements in gender equality, even while significant income differences between countries remain.

Macroeconomic Impacts of Gender Inequality and Informality in India

February 9, 2016
This paper examines the macroeconomic interaction between informality and gender inequality in the labor market. A dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model is built to study the impact of gender-targeted policies on female labor force participation, female formal employment, gender wage gap, as well as on aggregate economic outcomes. The model is estimated using Bayesian techniques and Indian data. Although these policies are found to increase female labor force participation and output, lack of sufficient formal job creation due to labor market rigidities leads to an increase in unemployment and informality, and further widens gender gaps in formal employment and wages. Simultaneously implementing such policies with formal job creating policies helps remove these adverse impacts while also leading to significantly larger gains in output.

Catalyst for Change: Empowering Women and Tackling Income Inequality

October 22, 2015
The attainment of a more equitable society and narrowing gender differences are two issues that are drawing considerable attention from policymakers in a number of countries. There is also increasing recognition that the pursuit of these two objectives is not just desirable from a social equity perspective, but that it would have beneficial effects for the macroeconomy. As a result, a number of papers have studied the links between income inequality and growth, as well as female labor force participation and its link to the overall economy. This paper aims to extend this literature by documenting the links between inequality of income and that of gender.

Fair Play: More Equal Laws Boost Female Labor Force Participation

February 23, 2015
This Staff Discussion Note examines the effect of gender-based legal restrictions and other policy choices and demographic characteristics on female labor force participation. Drawing on a large and novel panel data set of gender-related legal restrictions, the study finds that restrictions on women’s rights to inheritance and property, as well as legal impediments to undertaking economic activities such as opening a bank account or freely pursuing a profession, are strongly associated with larger gender gaps in labor force participation. These factors have a significant additional impact on female labor force participation over and above the effects of demographic characteristics and policies. In many cases, the gender gaps caused by these restrictions also have macro-critical effects in terms of an impact on GDP.



Doing It All—Women Boost the Bottom Line for Home, Firm, and Country

by Christine Lagarde
March 7, 2016
International Women’s Day—March 8—is one of my favorite days. It is a time to celebrate the impressive progress women at all levels of the career ladder have made in recent decades […]

Tackling Inequality in sub-Saharan Africa Could Yield Mileage on Growth

by Antoinette Sayeh
November 16, 2015
Rising inequality is both a moral and economic issue that has implications for the general health of the global economy, and impacts prosperity and growth. So it’s not surprising that reducing inequality is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders at the […]

Shrinking Populations, Rising Fiscal Challenges

By Benedict Clements, Kamil Dybczak, and Mauricio Soto
October 27, 2015
Populations are getting older around the world—that’s no surprise in light of declining fertility and improvements in health care. But in many countries, something more dramatic is going on—the population is actually shrinking. These demographic developments portend stark fiscal challenges. What should countries—whatever […]

Empowering Women, Tackling Income Inequality

By Sonali Jain-Chandra, Kalpana Kochhar, and Monique Newiak
October 22, 2015
Despite progress, wide gaps between women and men’s economic empowerment and opportunity remain, which policymakers need to tackle urgently. In most countries, more men than women work, and they get paid more for similar work. Also, there are considerable gender gaps in access to […]

Fair Play—Equal Laws for Equal Working Opportunity for Women

By Christine Lagarde
February 23, 2015
Leveling the legal playing field for women holds real promise for the world—in both human and economic terms. Unfortunately, that promise remains largely ignored and its potential untapped. In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to […]


Boosting Women-Owned Businesses Key to Growth

February 23, 2015
Melanne Verveer , served as Ambassador-at-Large for global women’s issues under President Obama. She says more women in small and medium sized enterprises is a catalyst for growth.

Women in the Workforce: Breaking The Barriers

December 31, 2014
The IMF says the global economy would benefit by Boosting Women’s Participation in the Labor Force, and hosted a seminar on the topic last fall during the Fund’s annual meetings. Sarah Iqbal participated in that forum and talks in this podcast about the hurdles women face when starting a business.

Women's Tales from Wall Street

June 14, 2013
Despite outnumbering men as college graduates within OECD countries, women are still underrepresented at the very top managerial levels, particularly in finance & business. A group of women veterans of Wall street describe how they got to Wall Street, what they found there, and offer advice to young women who want to get there.



Women, Work, and European Economic Growth

March 7, 2016
Europe faces serious challenges to increasing future output growth. Improving women’s participation in the overall labor market and their representation in senior corporate positions is one important strategy European countries could pursue to help mitigate the projected slowdown in growth

Gender and Income Inequality

October 22, 2015
More men work than women in most countries, and they get paid more for similar work.
In many countries, girls and women have less access to education, health and finance than boys and men. Greater gender equality would benefit the economy through higher growth and lower income inequality.


The Business Case for Women's Empowerment

November 18, 2016
By Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, at the APEC CEO Summit, Peru

"APEC countries have made huge strides in improving women’s economic participation over the past two decades. They are now well-positioned to play a leading role in the way forward.
The IMF will be your partner in this great endeavor."

Daring the Difference: The 3 L's of Women’s Empowerment

May 19, 2014
By Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, at the National Democratic Institute, Washington DC

"My message is simple: we need a 21st century mentality for women’s economic participation. We need to flush away the flotsam of ingrained gender inequality."


Gender Equality: From Theory to Practice - A Peer Learning Experience
November 2-4, 2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), UN Women and Uogonzi Institute convened a peer learning event in Rwanda, a country that has emerged as a leader in advancing gender equality and is ranked among the top performing countries with regard to women's economic and political representation globally. With gender equality mainstreamed politically, institutionally, legally and into the budgetary process, hosting the event in Rwanda provides the opportunity for other low-income countries to get exposure to best practices, inspiration for own programs, and build connections for future collaboration.

This workshop aims at (i) spreading best-practices in promoting gender equality beyond the dissemination of theoretical approaches; (ii) being a forum for policy makers, gender advocates and civil society to exchange information on and approaches to successful initiatives designed to close gender gaps; (iii) building a network for peer-learning within sub-Saharan Africa and therefore creating the foundation for collaboration going forward.

Fiscal Policies and Gender Equality
Monday, November 7, 2016

the conference will offer panel discussions with academics and public officials working on relevant topics, as well as a keynote speech by Prof. Diane Elson, and the presentation of results from an IMF/UK DFID project on gender budgeting.

ANNUAL MEETINGS SEMINAR: Making Macroeconomics Work for Women
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Achieving comprehensive economic development and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require a decisive challenge to existing barriers to women’s economic equality. With that in mind, the UN Secretary General recently established a High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment to address the most persistent gender gaps that “constrain women’s rights and hinder economic growth and productivity.” The heads of both the IMF and the World Bank are members, along with prominent voices from civil society, academia, and business. Using recommendations from the High Level Panel and recent IMF research as a background, this session will explore how macroeconomic policy should be used as a tool to advance women’s economic empowerment and equality. It will look at what political leaders and international institutions such as the IMF should do differently to achieve the SDGs (and especially SDG No. 5 on gender equality), looking at the four focus areas of the UN High Level Panel: (i) eliminating legal barriers to female economic empowerment, (ii) addressing the care economy, (iii) reducing gender pay gaps, and (iv) expanding opportunities for women who work informally.

CALL FOR PAPERS: IMF Gender and Macroeconomics Conference

The IMF will hold a gender and macroeconomics conference on March 24, 2017. The conference is intended to provide a forum for discussing innovative empirical and theoretical research on gender and macroeconomics, with specific application to the challenges of low-income developing countries.
Empirical and theoretical studies on a wide range of issues related to gender and macroeconomics are welcome. Interested contributors should submit by August 31, 2016 a draft paper or a short proposal (which should reach the draft paper stage by January 2017). Please check the full document for more details.
Please respond to or indicating “IMF Gender and Macroeconomics Conference” in the subject of the email.

Getting Down to Business: Women, Work, and the Global Economy; April 13, 2016

Women comprise a little more than half the world’s population, yet significant gender gaps in labor markets constrain their contribution to measured economy activity and growth. Earlier IMF research pointed to the importance of increasing female participation as part of the economic recipe to boost growth prospects in a wide range of countries, including many advanced economies. Most recent research by the IMF suggests that more women in senior corporate positions may also improve firms’ financial performance. Despite significant progress in recent decades, progress toward gender equality is hampered by gaps in participation in the labor force, earnings, and the limited number of women in senior positions. This panel of experts will examine the role that women’s role in the labor market plays in overall growth and stability. But the debate doesn’t end in the corporate sector. New research also shows that public policy may have just as much a role to play as personal choice in women’s decision to work. How does tax policy play an unintended role in keeping women out of the labor force?