At its most fundamental level, development is the process of engaging communities to improve social,
health, economic, and political outcomes and to expand freedoms. Gender equality and women’s
empowerment are essential components to the development process because to neglect a portion of those communities or to maintain social structures that benefit certain groups at the expense of others is to fail at those most basic objectives. Thus, awareness of the ways gender and empowerment inform access and impact of development objectives and implementation is essential to achieving program success. Addressing gender equality has increasingly been tied to the promotion of more sustainable development outcomes; healthier, more resilient communities, and higher economic productivity. Removing barriers to women’s educational and economic participation, in particular, generates large-scale productivity gains ranging from household to national level. Improving women’s status impacts families and societies in positive ways, raising not just women’s outcomes but also children’s health and educational outcomes and resulting in more inclusive, representative institutions and policies.