Special Issue "Women, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development in Emerging Economies and the Global South"

A special issue of Administrative Sciences (ISSN 2076-3387). This special issue belongs to the section "Gender, Race and Diversity in Organizations".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Bettina Lynda Bastian

Guest Editor
Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management,Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, P.O. Box 446, Jounieh, Lebanon
Interests: Entrepreneurial Economics, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Gender Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Sustainability and Development
Dr. Loliya Akobo
Guest Editor
Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 5UG, UK
Interests: diversity management as an evolving discourse and how this contributes to organisational and national development
Dr. Nino Durglishvili

Guest Editor
Associate Professor of Social and Political Sciences, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University
Interests: Educational Management, Educational Assessment, Strategy, Psychiatry
Prof. Dr. Beverly Dawn Metcalfe
Guest Editor
Visiting Professor International Management and Development, USEK Lebanon and PSU, Saudi Arabia
Interests: women's leadership in MENA/Africa; HRD and HRM, international development and sustainability; entrepreneurship/social entrepreneurship in the GCC and Middle East; NGOs and social change; global feminisms including Islamic Feminism; gender and governance; educational leadership; Islamic Ethics/Finance
Dr. Faith W. Ngunjiri
Guest Editor
Associate Professor of Ethics and Leadership, Concordia College
Interests: spirituality/faith at work; women & leadership
Dr. Eugenie Samier
Guest Editor
Reader, Education and Leadership, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XQ, UK
Interests: Educational Leadership, Educational Management; Educational Policy; Public Policy and Administration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Gender equality as well as women’s empowerment are key elements of the UN 2030 agenda and an independent objective of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, the pursuit of gender equality has become an intrinsic part in development programs and policy interventions worldwide (OECD 2017; World Bank 2019). This expresses the conviction that the reduction of gender inequalities is fundamental for sustainable development (Sachs 2012). Gender inequality represents systematic differences between men and women and other marginalized groups regarding their material and human wellbeing, due to differential access to resources and opportunities outside of their control (UN Women 2013). In particular, women are negatively affected since gendered environments hinder and hide their abilities to participate actively and the rights to self-determined imaginings in private and public life. These exclusionary processes have detrimental effects on greater economic growth (GEM 2019), on effective state building, as well as peacebuilding and conflict management in countries worldwide (OECD 2017). The empowerment of women is the pivotal antecedent to gender equality (OECD 2017), and together, with improving education, opportunities underpin the ethos of SDG architecture and governance. Mosedale (2005) argues that empowerment is an ongoing process without a final goal itself, since enhancing the capacities of individuals and groups to make choices and to transform these choices into desired actions and outcomes articulates a realized agentic stance of what social improvement and social development can be (Kabeer 2005). Not only can empowered individuals take strategic life choices, which they were hitherto not able to make (Al Dajani and 2013), but the process of empowerment is intrinsically linked to sustainable change that challenges existent power structures and relationships, in both the Global North and Global South (Kabeer 2005). While international stakeholders such as the UN and World Bank have driven a series of projects to aid all manner of upgrading social positions, translations from the global to local have not always paid attention to the nuances of women’s practical and strategic needs (Moser 2005). Women’s development studies, notably women in development (WID) and women and development (WAD), were premised on supporting women to acquire a range of entrepreneurial skills, but this did not take into consideration the fluidity of gender categories examined in gender and development (GAD) frameworks. Similarly, it has been very challenging to link global articulations of development and empowerment with local necessities and priorities. In this context, women’s entrepreneurship development has been considered as a valuable tool to promote gender equality (Bastian et al. 2019; Sarfaraz et al. 2013), but also part of the broader treatise surrounding human development and economic development, and more recently, preserving and improving wellbeing, and sustainable development.

It is in this context that we want to critically explore the dynamics of entrepreneurship across scales. This includes global governance operations of international organizations such as the UN and Word Bank. International organizations have stressed human flourishing can be nurtured by offering venturing possibilities repeatedly (ILO 2019; UNDP 2019; World Bank 2020). This conviction is backed by research that emphasizes the role of female entrepreneurship for economic development and growth (Datta and Gailey 2012; Georgeta 2012), since it allows tapping into the large and unused potential of unemployed, underemployed or poor women who otherwise have been excluded from or hindered to integrate into the workforce (GEM 2014). However, the underlying assumptions regarding the contemporary view on female entrepreneurial agency—where entrepreneurship is reduced to the recognition and exploitation of business opportunities in order to generate personal wealth (Shane and Venkataraman 2000) have been criticized as too US- and Eurocentric (Al Dajani and Marlow 2010, 2013) and as normatively masculinized (Ahl, 2004; Brush et al. 2009; Ahl and Marlow, 2012). Scholars, instead, point to the fact that entrepreneurship originates in diverse cultural and institutional settings, which will reflect in multiple entrepreneurial expressions and socioeconomic and political outcomes (Welter 2011, Al Dajani and Marlow 2010, 2013).

Moreover, despite a significant body of literature concerned with female entrepreneurship and empowerment (Venkatesh et al 2017, Datta and Gailey 2012; Sharma et al 2012), the debate is still open regarding equality outcomes. In this context, research points out the relevance of contextual embeddedness of female entrepreneurship with regard to specific cultural environments (Huis et al. 2017), as well as with regard to the importance of different organizational governance arrangements (Haugh and Talwar 2016) and institutional factors that can promote or restrain empowerment and equality efforts. Furthermore, different contexts have different definitions of empowerment (Mosedale 2005), related to the complexity of gender inequality, which actually represents a collection of “disparate and interlinked problems” (Sen 2001).  

Recent statistics show that gender inequality remains a highly pertinent issue: The Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum (WEF 2020) reports promising improvements worldwide in closing the gender gap. Nevertheless, there is still a 31.4% average gender gap globally, with inequality being most pronounced in political empowerment (only 24.7% of the gender gap has been closed) and economic participation and opportunity (where 57.8% of the gap have been closed so far). Despite promising and laudable policy and development efforts on behalf of states, international organizations, and private initiatives, more efforts need to be undertaken for the empowerment of women and the closing of gender inequality gaps.

The present Call for Papers encourages submissions (conceptual, empirical, reviews) that help to build a more robust understanding of the relationship among female entrepreneurship, empowerment, and gender equality and with regard to different analysis levels, such as the global, the state, and the micro levels (individuals and companies). Globally, a lot of empowerment and gender equality policy approaches, for example, are filtered and influenced through gender mainstreaming discourses and programs such as the UN, ILO, IMF, World Bank, and others.

We welcome studies that are theoretical and empirical, and especially studies of entrepreneurship as a means of empowerment and of gains for attaining agency and subjectivity. The paper could focus on one country, examine comparative countries, as well as review how global institutions have devised entrepreneurial initiatives to support development plans. The following studies are of great interest, and the Special Issue encourages multi-method approaches, qualitative or quantitative. We encourage authors to utilize works that are not published in English in order to provide space and give voice to other languages: 

  • The role of SDG governance on empowerment/entrepreneurship plans;
  • Entrepreneurship studies that address Africa, Latin America, North and South East Asia, as well as transitional regions in the CEE and Russia;
  • Political economy of skills development and entrepreneurship covering neoliberalism, marketization, and communist organization in China; socialism in former CSS and Cuba;
  • Studies that propose empirically informed models;
  • The role of women’s organizations and activist groups and how they have supported agentic realization via entrepreneurship;
  • Theoretical papers that explore equality, equity, and sustainable dynamics of empowerment and entrepreneurship;
  • Institutional frameworks in countries and how entrepreneurial planning is aligned (or not) with development planning;
  • Critical reflective papers that utilize auto-ethnography of entrepreneurship actors, journeys, and learning processes. Critiques of entrepreneurial learning and training processes delivered via universities, NGOS, government or international organizations;
  • WID/WAD/GAD and the cultural differences that shape formations of entrepreneurial capacities;
  • Explorations of how women, environment and development agendas, and priorities provide opportunities to support sustainable entrepreneurship;
  • Feminist insights of entrepreneurship, which could include Islamic feminism, African feminism, Latin American Feminisms, environmental feminisms, and multiplicities of global feminisms;
  • Examples of entrepreneurship as resistive and politicized in challenging governance regimes and authorities;
  • Example of entrepreneurial studies that devise innovative organizational forms and mechanisms that support female entrepreneurship and empowerment;
  • Post-colonial discussions of entrepreneurship and empowerment;
  • Decolonization activities and the articulation of reimagined subjectivities.


Ahl, H. (2004), The Scientific Reproduction of Gender Inequality: A Discourse Analysis of Research Texts on Women’s Entrepreneurship, Liber, Stockholm.

Ahl, H. and Marlow, S. (2012), “Exploring the dynamics of gender, feminism and entrepreneurship: advancing debate to escape a dead end?”, Organization, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 543-562.

Al-Dajani, H. and Marlow, S. (2010), The impact of women’s home-based enterprise on marriage dynamics: evidence from Jordan, International Small Business Journal, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 470-487

Al-Dajani, H., & Marlow, S. (2013). Empowerment and entrepreneurship: A theoretical framework. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 19(5), 503-524.

Bastian, B. L., Metcalfe, B. D., Zali, M. R. (2019). Gender Inequality: Entrepreneurship Development in the MENA Region. Sustainability, 11(22), 6472.

Brush, C., de Bruin, A. and Welter, F. (2009), A gender-aware framework for women’s entrepreneurship, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 8-24

Datta, P. B., Gailey, R. (2012). Empowering women through social entrepreneurship: Case study of a women's cooperative in India. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(3), 569-587.

Georgeta, I. (2012). Women entrepreneurship in the current international business environment. Cogito-Multidisciplinary Research Journal, 1, 122–131.

Global Entrepreneurship Report (GEM) (2019), GEM 2018/19 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report, retrieved on 14.01.2020, from: https://www.gemconsortium.org/report/gem-20182019-womens-entrepreneurship-report

ILO (2019), ILO Tools for Women entrepreneurship and development, retrieved on: 4.2.2020, from: https://www.ilo.org/global/docs/WCMS_117990/lang--en/index.htm

Moser, C. (2005). Peace, Conflict, and Empowerment: The Colombian Case. Measuring empowerment: Cross-disciplinary perspectives, 247-65.

OECD (2017), Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment in fragile and conflict affected situations: a review if donor support. OECD Development Policy Papers, October 2017, No.8, retrieved on 14.1.2020, from: https://www.oecd.org/dac/conflict-fragility-resilience/docs/Gender_equality_in_fragile_situations_2017.pdf

Sachs, J. D. (2012). From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. The Lancet, 379(9832), 2206-2211.

Sarfaraz, L., Faghih, N., Majd, A. A. (2014). The relationship between women entrepreneurship and gender equality. Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, 4(1), 6.

Sen, A. (2001). The many faces of gender inequality. New Republic, 35-39.

Shane, S. and Venkataraman, S. (2000), The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 217-226.

Sharma, A., Dua, S., Hatwal, V. (2012). Micro enterprise development and rural women entrepreneurship: way for economic empowerment. Artha Prabandh: A Journal of Economics and Management, 1(06).

UN Women (2013). Global Thematic Consultation on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Addressing Inequalities Synthesis Report of Global Public Consultation. New York.

UNDP (2019), Goal 8: Decent Work and economic growth, retrieved on: 4.2.2019, from: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-8-decent-work-and-economic-growth.html

Venkatesh, V., Shaw, J. D., Sykes, T. A., Wamba, S. F.,  Macharia, M. (2017). Networks, technology, and entrepreneurship: a field quasi-experiment among women in rural India. Academy of Management journal, 60(5), 1709-1740.

WEF, 2020, Global Gender Gap report 2020, retrieved on: 14.01.2020, from: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf

Welter, F. (2011), Contextualizing entrepreneurship – conceptual challenges and ways forward, Entrepreneurship, Theory and Practice, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 165-184.

World Bank (2019), World Bank Group Gender Strategy (FY16–23): Gender Equality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth, Retireved. On 7.10.2019, from:  http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/820851467992505410/World-Bank-Group-gender-strategyFY16-23-gender-equality-poverty-reduction-and-inclusive-growth (accessed on 7 October 2019).

Dr. Bettina Lynda Bastian
Dr. Loliya Akobo
Dr. Nino Durglishvili
Dr. Beverly Dawn Metcalfe
Dr. Faith W. Ngunjiri
Dr. Eugenie Samier
Guest Editors

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Open AccessArticle
Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Global South: Empowering and Emancipating?
Adm. Sci. 2020, 10(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci10040087 - 03 Nov 2020
This paper addresses the following questions: Are women entrepreneurs empowered by entrepreneurship, and critically, does entrepreneurship offer emancipation? Our theoretical position is that entrepreneurship is socially embedded and must be recognized as a social process with economic outcomes. Accordingly, questions of empowerment must [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the following questions: Are women entrepreneurs empowered by entrepreneurship, and critically, does entrepreneurship offer emancipation? Our theoretical position is that entrepreneurship is socially embedded and must be recognized as a social process with economic outcomes. Accordingly, questions of empowerment must take full account of the context in which entrepreneurship takes place. We argue that institutions—formal and informal, cultural, social, and political—create gendered contexts in the Global South, where women’s entrepreneurship is subjugated and treated as inferior and second class. Our thematic review of a broad scope of the literature demonstrates that in different regions of the Global South, women entrepreneurs confront many impediments and that this shapes their practices. We show how the interplay of tradition, culture, and patriarchy seem to conspire to subordinate their efforts. Yet, we also recognize how entrepreneurial agency chips away and is beginning to erode these bastions, in particular, how role models establish examples that undermine patriarchy. We conclude that entrepreneurship can empower but modestly and slowly. Some independence is achieved, but emancipation is a long, slow game. Full article
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