In the developing world, one in three girls is married before age 18, and over 200,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women account for approximately 60 percent of HIV infections, despite making up just over half of the population.
The International Center for Research on Women, or ICRW, a Washington, D.C.-based global research institute and registered nonprofit, has been working for nearly 40 years to combat statistics like these.
Founded in 1976, the ICRW conducts empirical studies intended to measure the obstacles that hinder women in the developing world from reaching their full potential. The ICRW then recommends policy priorities and designs “evidence-based plans” for donors, program designers and policy makers that enable needy women to lead happier, healthier lives.
The ICRW focuses its research on several main areas related to women’s empowerment. The first of these areas centers on issues that begin in adolescence.
Specifically, the ICRW conducts research on child marriage, education, work, healthcare and relationships. By identifying ways to make the attitudes and options of adolescent boys and girls more equitable, the ICRW hopes to empower women to take better control of their own futures.
The ICRW also focuses its research on how disparity between men and women affects agricultural productivity and food security in developing nations; women’s economic empowerment, employment opportunities and property rights; reproductive health and fertility control; HIV contraction, stigma and discrimination; and domestic violence issues.
In the four decades since its inception, the ICRW’s research has been instrumental in bringing about meaningful change in the lives of women in need. Its research efforts have, among other accomplishments, guided the passage of a 2005 law in India working to combat domestic violence, increased the availability of microfinance loans available to women in developing nations and helped integrate women’s empowerment and gender equality into the Millennium Development Goals.
With new regional offices in Kenya and India, the ICRW continues to conduct relevant research aimed to produce “a path of action that honors women’s human rights, ensures gender equality and creates the conditions in which all women can thrive.”
- Katrina Beedy