The Global Economic Crisis and Gender Equality

The 2007-2008 global financial crisis and subsequent austerity policies have put the realization of women’s economic and social rights in jeopardy. The resulting job losses, decreased social services and increased economic insecurity have weakened the capacity of people to perform the unpaid care work that is so critical for human well-being and social development.

While most policy responses have focused on bailing out the financial sector and, to a lesser extent, dealing with its implications for economic output and jobs, far less attention has been given to its impact on people’s ability to care for themselves, their families and communities.

This paper suggests that these three spheres—finance, production and unpaid care—are in fact interconnected and overlapping, and undertakes a feminist analysis to draw attention to their interconnections and to make visible what is often left out of mainstream accounts.

UN Women calls on States to take a transformative approach to economic and social policy, and design recovery policies that promote the realization of women’s rights, in order to meet their human rights obligations. UN Women recommends public action on three broad fronts:

  • Job creation and support for social protection policies: such policy approaches will be more effective in reducing debt levels and setting the foundation for sustainable economic and social recovery than the neoliberal economic policies that have dominated the response to date.
  • Better regulation of global finance: National governments and the United Nations must play a much stronger role in the governance of global and national financial flows to avoid future crises and their costs to women in particular.
  • Investment in the reproduction of people: the State must facilitate access to quality services, infrastructure and other essential goods such as food, which can reduce and redistribute the disproportionate share of unpaid care work performed by low-income women and create the basic foundations for social and economic recovery.

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Bibliographic information

Resource type(s): Position papers
Number of pages