UN Women calls for more women and social protections in the workplace as key to global economic recovery


For immediate release
05 July 2012

Media Inquiries:

New York: Mandy Kibel, mandy.kibel[at]unwomen.org, +1 646 781-4522

Forum highlights best practices generating large scale employment and decent work for women.

New York, 05 July—As the global economy struggles to recover from the impacts of the financial crisis, UN Women is calling for the urgent enforcement of policies and practices that ensure more women enter the labor market in jobs with decent working conditions and social protections. This call comes as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is convening to discuss decent work for sustainable prosperity.

Under Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet will participate in a Ministerial Roundtable discussion as part of the ECOSOC High Level Segment where she will highlight the powerful contribution that women can make to increased economic growth and stability.

Ms. Bachelet has placed the economic empowerment of women at the center of her work and has consistently voiced her support for the crucial role of women in the promoting economic growth and prosperity: “There can be no sustainable recovery for the global economy without the full and secured participation of women in generating that recovery,“ “says Ms. Bachelet. “Empowering women economically is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good economic sense. Women could constitute half of humankind's workforce and are therefore at the center of any solution, she added. “ We know that increasing women's access to quality education, good jobs, land and other resources contributes to inclusive growth, sustainable development, and long-term prosperity.

UN Women's call is backed by a growing body of research which shows that enhancing women's economic options boosts national economies. If women's paid employment rates were raised to the same level as men's, GDP would rise 9 per cent in the US, 13 per cent on the Eurozone and 16 per cent in Japan. By contrast, an ESCAP report found that restricting job opportunities for women, where 45 per cent of women remain outside the labor market, is costing the Asia-Pacific region up to USD 42-46 billion per year. And the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that giving women the same access as men to fertilizers, seeds, tools and other types of agriculture support would raise agricultural output and result in 100 to 150 million fewer hungry people.

Although women have increased their share of employment globally, there are still significant and systemic differences between men and women's jobs. Only a small proportion of employed women work in industry worldwide (18 per cent compared to 26 per cent of all employed men).

Women are more likely than men to work in the agriculture (37 per cent of all employed women compared to 33 per cent of all employed men) and in the service sector (46 per cent of all employed women compared with 41 per cent of men's employment). Women are disproportionately concentrated in poorly protected informal work as wage and self-account workers and in vulnerable employment (50.5 per cent vs. 48.2 per cent for men). About 100 million women worldwide are engaged in domestic work, which is still very poorly protected.

Gender pay gaps persist worldwide. Evidence from 83 countries shows that women earn between 10 and 30 per cent less than men and globally women spend more time than men in unpaid care work. A study of Fortune 500 companies found that those with more women board directors had significantly higher financial returns, including 53 per cent higher returns on equity, 42 per cent higher returns on sales and 67 per cent higher returns on capital invested. Women's businesses are often smaller than men's because of discriminatory policies; the lack of access to capital, technology, business education and the triple responsibilities of their productive, domestic and community roles.

The ECOSOC roundtable will discuss concrete recommendations to address these disparities and urge policy makers to fully integrate women's employment and decent work into the global policy response to the ongoing financial crisis and to their broader macroeconomic policies.

Other recommendations include the improved use of sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics on women's economic empowerment to identify gaps and design policy responses; the implementation of policies that guarantee women entry into the labour force and improve their working conditions and the increased presence of women in leadership positions of economic decision making bodies as well as employer and labour organisations.

Note to journalists

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

Created by the UN General Assembly in July 2010, UN Women became operational on 1st January 2011, and supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards.

It stands behind women's equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on six priority areas: increasing women's leadership and participation; ending violence against women; engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes; enhancing women's economic empowerment; making gender equality central to national development planning and budgeting; and increasing coordination and accountability across the UN system for gender equality.

Media Contacts:

  • In New York: Mandy Kibel, mandy.kibel[at]unwomen.org, +1 646.781.4522

For more information on UN Women please visit www.unwomen.org