Global Resources

Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016: Transforming economies, realising rights

Publisher: UN Women
Publication Date: Jan 2015

This report focuses on the economic and social dimensions of gender equality, including the right of all women to a good job, with fair pay and safe working conditions, to an adequate pension in older age, to health care and to safe water, without discrimination based on factors such as socioeconomic status, geographic location and race or ethnicity.

The report explains that while macroeconomic policies are usually seen as ways to promote economic growth, they can pursue a broader set of goals, including gender equality and social justice. The report calls for the creation of a 'virtuous cycle' through the generation of decent work and gender responsive social protection and social services. It argues that action is needed in three areas in order to transform economies and realise women’s economic and social rights:

  1. Decent work for women
  2. Gender responsive social policies
  3. Rights based macroeconomic policies

The report goes on to set out ten priorities for public action. They are:

  1. Create more and better jobs for women
    This could be done by  designing policies that stimulate economic activity, investing in and creating decent jobs in public services, increasing the viability of self employment for women, involving informal women workers in planning and decision making, and promoting measures to increase access to markets for women farmers.
  2. Reduce occupational segregation and gender pay gaps
    By properly valuing female dominated occupations, promoting education and skills training for adult women, providing balanced careers advice for young women, addressing sexual harassment in the workplace, and using quotas to increase women's representation in male dominated occupations.
  3. Strengthen women's income security throughout the lifecycle
    By providing access to unemployment protection, providing child allowances and non-contributory pensions, making social transfers unconditional and ensuring cash transfer programmes have women's rights at their heart, reforming contributory pensions to reduce gender gaps, and adjusting benefit levels to take cost of living rises into account.
  4. Recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work
    By scaling up investments in basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation, strengthening basic social services such as health and education, providing support to unpaid care givers, providing accessible and affordable child and elderly care, and working toward comprehensive paid leave systems.
  5. Invest in gender responsive social services
    By increasing investment in public services and replacing user fees with collective financing,
    working towards universal healthcare, bringing essential health care closer to women via mobile clinics and community health workers, providing integrated services to address violence against women, providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, improving care services for children and dependent adults, and promoting positive relations between users and providers of services.
  6. Maximise resources for the achievement of substantive equality
    By reprioritising expenditure (e.g. away from the military towards public services), raising additional revenue through taxation, borrowing for social investments that strengthen human capacities, earmarking revenue raised from natural resource extraction for social protection and services, and implementing gender responsive approaches to budgeting.
  7. Support women's organisations to claim rights and shape policy agendas at all levels
    By ensuring a conducive legal framework for women's organising, scaling up funding for women's organisations, ensuring women are equally represented in trade union leadership and collective bargaining, supporting the creation of feminist knowledge on key  issues like fiscal policy, building capacity in women's organisations to promote policy change, and creating feedback loops between women's organisations, service users and government.
  8. Create an enabling global environment for the realisation of women's rights
    By promoting economic stability through macro-prudential polices, improving global coordination to eliminate tax havens and tax avoidance, ensuring that international trade and investment agreements do not undermine the realisation of women's rights, increasing the accountability of global economic and financial institutions, adopting a formal common approach to the extraterritorial obligations of states, and democratising global economic institutions by amplifying the voices of poorer countries.
  9. Use human rights standards to shape policies and catalyse change
    By providing guidance on advancing the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work through economic policies, providing guidance on how macroeconomic policies can support women's rights, and proposing concrete steps on the implementation of social protection floors to ensure women's rights to social security.  
  10. Generate evidence to assess progress on women's economic and social rights
    By complementing global poverty statistics with measures of women's access to personal income, regularly conducting time use surveys, increasing the collection of sex disaggregated data on informal employment, developing standards for the collection and analysis of statistics on gender pay gaps, supporting the development of new methodologies to measure women's assets and entrepreneurship, conducting regular surveys on violence against women and girls, investing in civil registration to improve the quality of data on maternal mortality, and developing and funding sources of evidence to capture difficult to measure inequality dimensions.