UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Global Norms and Standards: Economic Empowerment

A number of internationally agreed norms and standards relate to women’s economic empowerment. Among the most prominent are:

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’s commitments include to:

  • Promote women’s economic independence, including employment, and eradicate the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women by addressing the structural causes of poverty through changes in economic structures, ensuring equal access for all women, including those in rural areas, as vital development agents, to productive resources, opportunities and public services (Beijing Declaration, Paragraph 26).
  • Ensure women’s equal access to economic resources, including land, credit science and technology, vocational training, information, communication and markets, as a means to further the advancement and empowerment of women and girls, including through the enhancement of their capacities to enjoy the benefits of equal access to these resources, inter alia, by means of international cooperation (Beijing Declaration, Paragraph 35).
  • Develop gender-sensitive multisectoral programmes and strategies to end social subordination of women and girls and to ensure their social and economic empowerment and equality… (Platform for Action, Paragraph 108[e]).

The 2011 ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers offers a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of tens of millions of domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. It calls for them to have the same basic labour rights as those available to other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

The 2012 ILO Recommendation Concerning National Floors of Social Protection confirms that social security is a right and a necessity for development, and an important tool in promoting gender equality.

The four key ILO gender equality conventions are the Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100), Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111), Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention (No. 156) and Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183). Conventions 100 and 111 are also among the eight fundamental Conventions of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

The  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has provisions on employment in Article 11, economic and social benefits in Article 13, and rural women in Article 14.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights upholds the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in it. It specifically calls for fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work.