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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:

  • On International Women's Day 2022, IORA released the IORA Gender Pledge. Key elements include:

IORA’s 23 Member States pledge to make best efforts to:

  • achieve and maintain an average of 40:40:20 women to men attendance ratio across all IORA meetings, activities and events by 2030;
  • achieve and maintain an annual average of 40:40:20 women to men ratio of speakers or Head of Delegation in IORA meetings, activities and events by 2030;
  • achieve and maintain a 40:40:20 women to men ratio across the management positions at the IORA Secretariat by 2030;
  • restates IORA’s shared commitment to Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and
  • IORA recognizes that women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in decision-making is crucial to achieve the first objective in the IORA Charter: to promote the sustained growth and balanced development of the region and of the Member States, and to create common ground for regional economic co-operation.
  • Cooperation with UN Women: UN Women is currently implementing the Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Indian Ocean Rim project, supported by Australia. This is a three year project (2018-2021) providing research and capacity building initiatives with Member States and to promote and assist implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). The project is delivering research reports and a series of webinars and workshops to build capacity in IORA Member States.
  • The Women Mean Business project, which provides resources to chambers of commerce across the Indian Ocean rim region on issues relating to women’s economic empowerment.  To access these resources, see the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)’s project website.

  • Through the WGWEE, IORA Member States are cooperating to empower women including through awareness raising and capacity building.
  • 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.


Working Group on Women's Economic Empowerment (WGWEE):

The WGWEE is the main body tasked with improving Women's Economic Empowerment in IORA and was established in August 2018.


The Working Group on Women's Economic Empowerment (WGWEE) exists to explore possibilities and avenues for IORA Member States to cooperate to promote Women's Economic Empowerment within the region. The establishment of the WGWEE is a key deliverable of the IORA Action Plan 2017-21.  


The WGWEE maintains a Work Plan of initiatives by Member States to facilitate Women's Economic Empowerment in the Indian Ocean region. The Work Plan is premised on the Jakarta Concord, IORA Action Plan 2017-21. It includes activities to mainstream gender considerations in all priority areas of IORA, improve women’s participation in IORA events, improve the financial inclusion of women, support and promote the training of women entrepreneurs, conduct research-based initiatives for enhancing women’s economic empowerment, and promote the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs).


The WGWEE is currently chaired by the Islamic Republic of Iran.


To find out more about the WGWEE, contact us at   






  • 22-23
    May 2023
    IORA’s Working Group on Women’s Economic Empowerment
    Tehran, Iran
  • 20-20
    Apr 2022
    Working Group on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WGWEE) virtual meeting
    Virtual Meeting
  • 08-09
    Sep 2021
    IORA Women’s Economic Symposium: Rewriting Business Strategies for the Global Pandemic
    Virtual Meeting