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Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

About Icon1MEDA is a leader in the integration of low-income and excluded populations – women, youth and ethnic minorities among others – into mainstream market systems. We partner with local business and organizations to sustainably deliver the support and services that allow disadvantaged groups to contribute to and benefit from economic growth. At the same time, targeted groups are empowered to participate more equitably in markets with enhanced agency, voice and control over resources. Another critical component of MEDA’s success is the development of enabling environments in household, community, business and government spheres through a diverse range of proven approaches.

Gender and social inclusion approaches must be highly contextspecific. MEDA collaborates with local partners whose socio-cultural knowledge complements our international best practices and innovation in business solutions. For example, our early programming in Pakistan and Afghanistan sensitized MEDA to opportunities for women to become active economic participants in challenging contexts; youth initiatives in Nigeria, Jordan and Morocco have helped hone our expertise in job readiness, entrepreneurship and access to finance; projects in Haiti, Tanzania and Ethiopia have contributed to models for the economic integration of the very poor; and our recent work in Myanmar, Indonesia and India have fostered innovation to overcome social divides and achieve economic inclusion.

Approaches and Models



Improved Access 

To function effectively in markets, small-scale producers, microentrepreneurs, and small- and medium-sized business owners need access to reliable high-quality products and services. Women, youth, ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups are often overlooked by service providers who do not view them as viable market segments. MEDA raises awareness and incentivizes service providers to pilot new products and services with target communities, resulting in successful models for inclusive value chains.

Greater Agency

Empowering excluded populations to effectively use services and engage with market systems is a vital part of MEDA’s work. Greater agency improves people’s ability to take advantage of offered products and services including finance, inputs, information and market linkages. MEDA complements technical training and business support with strategies for developing soft skills, from confidence building and networking to negotiation and decision-making.

Building Enabling Environments

People’s abilities to interact positively in different market spheres are largely determined by invisible structures such as social and gender norms, cultural traditions and customary laws. MEDA promotes equality, inclusivity and diversity at the household, community, business and government levels. We innovate and apply context-appropriate social engagement models. For example: building support among community leaders and turning gatekeepers into advocates; involving men and boys as gender champions; and encouraging dialogue throughout the various spheres of engagement.

Examples of MEDA's Work

MEDA promotes gender equality and social inclusion across our initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In some cases, we mainstream inclusion, while in others, we focus exclusively on a marginalized group. 

Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW), Ghana

Improving Market Opportunities for Women in a New Economy (IMOW), Myanmar

Jordan Valley Links (JVL), Jordan

Libya Economic Empowerment (LEE), Libya

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