Decent Work and Women's Economic Empowerment: Good Policy and Practice

Published: July 2012

Women constitute half of humankind and 40% of the global workforce. They are a growing proportion of the overseas migrant labour force. As workers, entrepreneurs and service providers they contribute actively to social and economic development.

Yet women's economic and human rights, their contributions and priorities have been largely overlooked. They are more likely to be unemployed than men, dominate the unprotected informal sector, are more likely than men to be in part-time formal employment in most high income regions, spend more time than men in unpaid care-work globally, have lower levels of productivity and earn less than men for work of equal value and are poorly represented in public and corporate economic decision-making. Women workers in rural and urban areas have also been hard hit by the current financial and economic crisis, volatile food prices, the energy crisis, export driven agriculture and subsidized imports. Women need to be fully engaged in efforts to shape responses to these interfacing crises, both in terms of influencing the design and assessing the impacts of recovery packages from a gender perspective, and have an equal voice with men at all levels of economic decision-making.

Empowering women economically and making them central to solutions is a moral imperative. But it also makes good economic sense. A growing body of research shows that enhancing women's economic participation improves national economies, increases household productivity and living standards, enhances the well being of children with positive long term impacts and can increase women's agency and overall empowerment.

Key Findings

  • Enhancing women's economic partcipation improves national economies, increases household productivity and living standards, enhances the well being of children with positive long term impacts and can increase women's agency and overall empowerment

Populations Women

Complementary Outcomes Women's Rights

Publishers International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women