Economic empowerment for women is a key component of the United Nations Sustainable Development goal on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. Women’s economic empowerment is not an issue limited to the developing world, but one that impacts women globally, as gender differences in laws affect all regions of the world. As of 2017, women are more likely than men to be unemployed, and there are 104 economies that have laws which bar women from holding certain occupations.
Women make up nearly half of the world’s workforce, but there is still a global wage gap of 23% – meaning that women make $.77 for every $1.00 that men make. This is especially prevalent in nations with developing economies and places where informal economy is common, as women are much more likely to work in an informal sector setting. Women are often subject to unpaid labor, as many cultures place emphasis on a woman’s role as a caregiver and homemaker. This often results in women taking on a double burden, as they are often still responsible for their paid work. The policies that stem from this phenomenon play an important role in shaping gender equality, because policies may expand women’s choices and opportunities, or restrict them to more traditional roles. Women tend to be less likely to have access to higher education, thus decreasing opportunities for better paying jobs, or jobs that are more desirable and less centered around hard labor. Even when women are able to enter the workforce, they are often working unprotected from sexual harassment in the workplace. Women across the globe have also faced difficulties in securing the right to control their own financial institutions and affairs such as banks, credit cards, loans, and owning property. The World Bank cites access to credit as a means of significant economic opportunity for women. However, in 148 countries, women are less likely than men to have a formal bank account and less likely to formally borrow money. A lack of financial education and literacy also leaves women ill-prepared to take initiative to secure these financial assets.
OCED research shows that increasing female employment has the potential to boost GDP while also closing the wage gap substantially. It is the role of the committee to determine the best methods to do so. So far, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women have served as the guiding United Nations resolutions in addressing issues related to women’s economic empowerment. The UN Women program promotes women’s accessibility to employment, reducing the hours spent in unpaid work, and engaging with women in need at the grassroots level. How can the committee continue to economically empower women?
UN Women Facts and Figures:
OECD on Gender and Development: