Women Powering Work Online Competition

Deadline: 6 November 2013
Open to: all individuals, organizations, and partnerships from around the world
Award: three prizes, each totalling US $25,000


Families, communities, and nations prosper when women have access to economic equality. Empowering women economically not only contributes to economic growth, but also enhances the well-being and resilience of societies as a whole. The multiplier effect from investing in women—such as generating better health and education outcomes, safer communities, and sustainable development—has been well documented.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, women have made progress toward establishing equal access to economic opportunities, especially with regard to access to education. Today, in many MENA countries, more women attend university than men. However, only 25 percent of all women in MENA participate in the workforce—half the rate of the global average. Women in MENA still face disproportionately high barriers to building quality livelihoods and securing economic rights, including inadequate access to quality jobs, skills training, and capital, limitations on mobility, and discrimination in the workplace.

Ashoka Changemakers and General Electric (GE) have launched the online competition Women Powering Work: Innovations for Economic Equality in MENA to surface and support innovations that enable the full economic participation of women.

They are seeking solutions that enable:

  • Access to quality employment opportunities
  • Access to capital, technology, and resources
  • Education or training leading to increased job competitiveness or entrepreneurial capacity
  • Safe working conditions, transportation, and infrastructure to support women’s employment
  • Connections between entrepreneurs and market opportunities
  • Shifting cultural attitudes toward gender roles and ending gender discrimination in the labor market (e.g., equal pay for equal work, expanding the types of jobs deemed appropriate for women, and equitably distributing responsibilities)
  • Gender-responsive public policy, advocacy, and organizing for women’s economic rights


Eligible solutions are not limited to the topics listed above. The competition is open to all individuals, organizations, and partnerships from around the world. Entries may originate in any country, but must have their primary point of impact within one or more of the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Idea phase entries are eligible. However, the judges are better able to evaluate programs that are beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated a proof of impact. Entries must be submitted in English, Arabic, or French.


Three winners will each receive US $25,000 in unrestricted funding to support their innovation. Participating in the competition also connects entrants to a community of action that includes like-minded innovators, impact partners, sector experts, and potential investors.


Entries can be submitted until 5 p.m. EST on November 6, 2013. Throughout this stage, anyone can participate in an online review discussion with the entrants. Winners of the competition will be those that best meet the following criteria:

  • Innovation: The best entries will be those that demonstrate a substantial difference from other initiatives in the field. Distinctiveness will be given a high ranking by the judges. Innovation does not necessarily involve inventing something entirely new. It may comprise new products or processes, as well as new applications or hybrid combinations of existing tools. Entries should describe how their solutions are driven by original, ground-breaking ideas.
  • Social Impact: Entries should describe how the innovation advances economic equality for women in MENA. Entries should reflect an understanding of the systemic barriers within the innovation’s specific context, and should describe how the innovation impacts these barriers. The best solutions will have demonstrated impact, as well as the potential for scaling-up and replication. Entries should explain how the solution measures social impact through both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Sustainability: Entries should have a clear plan for reaching long-term goals and securing financial backing – they should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future. They should also have a realistic time frame for implementation. The most successful entrants demonstrate that they have strong partnerships and support networks to address ongoing needs, and to aid in scalability and the maintenance of a clear financial strategy.

Applicants must complete the entry form in its entirety and submit it by clicking on “enter an idea” located on the official website.

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