SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Economic growth contributes to sustainable development where it extends benefits to all people, actively reduces inequalities and avoids harm to the environment.
For growth to be inclusive, it must be decent work equally accessible to women and men. With women still less likely to participate in the labour force, and more likely to take the worst jobs in it—insecure, unsafe and poorly paid jobs—inclusive growth remains far out of reach.
Globally, only 63 per cent of women aged 25 to 54 are in the labour force compared to 94 per cent of men of the same age. Women’s participation rate has barely budged in the last 20 years, except in Latin America and the Caribbean, where it rose from 57 per cent to 68 per cent. In Central and Southern Asia, the rate has fallen to 37 per cent.
At current rates of change, the gender gap, which stands at 23 per cent globally, will not close until 2086—or possibly beyond. The estimation only considers better formal jobs, and not the informal, poorer quality ones where many women still work. Patterns of occupational segregation mean some occupations remain dominated by men or women, with the latter tending to be lower in status and pay.
UN Women acts to achieve economic rights and growth for all by promoting decent work, equal pay for equal work, equal access to economic assets and opportunities, and the fair distribution of unpaid care work. Specific support for informal workers helps them claim their rights and have a voice, including through trade unions. Partnership with the private sector, including through the Women’s Empowerment Principles, helps transform business practices in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
From where I stand: "I slept in the dog house because I wanted to go to school"
Shirley Price, formerly a domestic worker in Jamaica, used to be locked out of the house every night by her employers because she attended evening classes, a memory that haunts her to date. Today, she advocates for domestic workers' rights across the Caribbean, and is campaigning for a national law to protect the rights of domestic workers in Jamaica.
Photo essay: Changing world, changing work
While the world of work is changing fast, it needs to change faster to empower women. Women's economic empowerment requires transformative changes that include equal pay for women, increase in labour force participation of women, equally shared unpaid care by men and women, improved conditions for women in the informal sector, and protection against harassment at work.
In Uruguay, care law catalyzes change, ushering services and breaking stereotypes
Soledad Rotella, who couldn't afford to send her first two children to daycare, and sometimes left them alone at home so she could earn a living, is now able to send her two-year-old daughter to quality and free day care, thanks to. Uruguay's Care Act. Under the new law, all children, persons with disabilities and elderly persons have the right to get free care. This has helped many women get fulltime jobs without compromising the well-being of their children or family.