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Women's Economic Empowerment

IORA is committed to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. IORA established Women’s Economic Empowerment as a special area of focus at the 13th Council of Ministers Meeting in Perth, Australia on 1 November 2013.

Highlights to date include:

  • Prime Ministers and Presidents further strengthened the Association’s commitment during IORA’s 20th anniversary celebrations in the Jakarta Concord for ‘Promoting Regional Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean’ along with an accompanying IORA Action Plan for 2017-2021 that sets out initiatives to drive this important cross-cutting agenda forward (March 2017).
  • Through the WGWEE, IORA Member States are cooperating to empower women including through awareness raising and capacity building. To date capacity building events have been held in India (2014, 2017), Indonesia (2016), Malaysia (2014) and Seychelles (2016). These focused on topics such as the tourism and textiles sectors; poverty alleviation; mobilizing markets and commitments, women in business and entrepreneurship.  In 2015, in partnership with UN Women and supported by Australia, a baseline study was published on women’s empowerment in the Indian Ocean Rim region.
  • All IORA Special Fund applications and project guidelines now require gender sensitivity in their planning and implementation and must demonstrate to direct benefits to women.
  • Efforts to promote the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) resulting several companies signing around the Rim, including in the first-ever signatures from Madagascar and Iran (October 2016).

Looking to the future, the IORA Action Plan also identifies women’s economic empowerment as a key priority area and sets out flagship initiatives to be achieved between 2017-2021 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. These are to establish a Women’s Business Forum in the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (IORBF); cooperation with UN-Women and relevant organisations for capacity building and information exchange; champion initiatives to increase women’s economic empowerment such as the Women’s Empowerment Principles; implement training and capacity building programs; and to organise activities strengthening women's economic capacity and participation in business.


  • 10-11
    Dec 2018
    IORA Workshop on Financial Inclusion for Women Entrepreneurs
    Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • 28-29
    Aug 2018
    IORA Ministerial Conference on “Women’s Economic Empowerment - A Pre-requisite for Sustainable Development.”
    The Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Balaclava, Mauritius
  • 03-04
    May 2018
    IORA Workshop to Strengthen Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Indian Ocean - Preparations for the Ministerial Conference and Working Group