Global Resources

World survey on the role of women in development 2014: Gender equality and sustainable development

Publisher: UN Women
Publication Date: Oct 2014
This flagship UN study, part of the World Survey series which is issued every five years, highlights the links between the causes of gender inequality and unsustainability, and makes the case for the importance of recognising and building on the synergies between sustainable development and gender equality. The report argues that it is vital to forge a sustainable development pathway that has an explicit commitment to gender equality and seeks to enhance women’s capabilities, respect and protect their rights and reduce and redistribute their unpaid care work. Women must have full and equal participation in decision making and policy development to create this pathway. The report chapters are structured as follows:


• Gender equality and sustainable development

This chapter looks at gender equality and sustainable development in the context of policy making and considers the challenges, trade-offs and tensions that governments will need to address. It outlines relevant international instruments and policy making spaces, considers problems with current models of development and growth, sets out some key definitions and concepts and asks what can be learnt from past action on sustainable development and gender equality.

• The green economy, gender equality and care

This chapter looks at the links between economic growth and gender inequality, and highlights the problem of the exploitation of women’s labour through low wages and unpaid care work. It considers recent green economy initiatives that have not been conducive to gender equality, and argues for a broader green economy agenda in which decent pay and work is central.

• Food security and gender equality

This chapter argues that the dynamics of the global economy and markets intersect with gender relations; the effect being food insecurity and gender inequality. It sets out recent trends in hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity, and sets out emerging challenges in the global food system. It also features efforts in different regions to secure the right to food.

• Population, sustainable development and gender equality

This chapter illustrates how perspectives that attribute environmental and ecological damage to growing populations have dominated policy making. It challenges this viewpoint, arguing that focusing on women’s health, reproduction and sexuality in this way compromises women’s bodily integrity and autonomy, and undermines efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights. It suggests broadening the agenda, so that other drivers of environmental problems, such as unsustainable production and consumption, can be recognised.

• Investments for gender-responsive sustainable development

This chapter considers the financial, social and institutional efforts needed to secure tangible improvements for women’s access to essential everyday services. It covers the institutional settings required to create transformative investments for gender equality, and it looks in more detail at different types of investments and technologies in the areas of water, electricity, cook stoves and sanitation.


The report ends with a set of recommendations related to each chapter theme, as well as on data and statistics.