Did you know?
that there is no country in the world where women’s participation in the work force is equal to that of men’s.
These facts presents clear reasons for which women’s economic empowerment has become the focus of so many human rights bodies and organisations, but what exactly does economic empowerment mean?
What is economic empowerment?
An individual is considered to be economically empowered when they have the capacity to improve and take control of their own economic status. Economically empowered people contribute to the economy and benefit from their contribution.
Why is it important for women to be economically empowered?
Aside from the moral and ethical reasons for gender equality, it also makes sense economically. When women contribute to economies; they grow quicker, because the labour force itself increases.
In other words, women’s increased participation in the workforce increases G***s Domestic Product.
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that, when there are more women in high-ranking company positions, the company’s organisational effectiveness benefits.
What’s more, higher incomes for women have a multiplier effect on society as women are more likely to invest money into their children and communities than men.
What are the obstacles preventing women from becoming economically empowered?
Globally, women are more likely to do unpaid family work than men.
According to UN Women:
“Women devote 1 to 3 hours more a day to housework than men; 2 to 10 times the amount of time a day to care (for children, elderly, and the sick), and 1 to 4 hours less a day to market activities —— Women take on 2.5 times more unpaid work than men.”
Furthermore, women are frequently ill-informed about the existing services that can help them to fully enjoy their economic and social rights, and they might be unaware of the ways in which they can improve their economic situation.
Lack of information is one of the biggest obstacles to women’s economic empowerment.
How might women become economically empowered?
Numerous methods should be employed in order to ensure women’s economic empowerment. Here are a few:
- Increase women’s access to and control over resources and assets such as land, water, technology, and viable employment.
- Increase women’s financial literacy. In other words, help to develop women’s understanding of their financial resources and how they should best be utilised.
- Introduce gender mainstreaming to policies, in particular, those concerning land rights and inheritance.
- Provide gender-specific services for economic migrants. For example, when host countries provide information and legal advice specifically focused on the needs and opportunities of women migrants.
- Provide child care and paid parental leave for men and women. If states support parental leave and child care, it will make it easier for women and men to spend the same amount of time on unpaid, domestic work. This, in turn, will benefit women’s employment opportunities.
Women’s economic empowerment must be accompanied by her political empowerment in order for either to succeed.
That is to say, that women’s economic empowerment will only be achieved if it is coupled with investment into women’s leadership and political participation.
Women’s political participation brings with it a whole other set of benefits. For example, countries with a greater number of female politician tend to have lower rates of inequality and greater expenditure on healthcare.
Gender Mainstreaming is when the different gendered implications of public policies are taken into account. In other words, it assesses how policies might affect men and women differently.
Financial Literacy is the blanket term used to describe the skills and knowledge needed by people to take effective control of their financial resources.
Numerous human rights conventions and strategies will prove useful to anyone advocating for women’s economic empowerment.
Of particularly relevance are: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’s, and The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which both seek to defend the principle of equal pay for equal work, for example.
The Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 5 – Gender Equality) is an important entry point for advocacy on women’s economic empowerment. Do some research on your country’s national policies and accountability mechanisms to see what steps are being taken to achieve Goal 5 of the Agenda 2030.
If your country has ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), it is legally bound to put the Convention’s provisions into practice, and to submit national reports on its progress in doing so. The CEDAW Treaty Body Review monitors implementation of CEDAW in UN Member States and provides opportunity for input from NGOs on states’ implementation.
Do some research on your country’s most recent CEDAW Treaty Body Review and see how you might engage with this review process to raise the issue of women’s economic empowerment in the future.
The UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes a look at the human rights situation in UN Member States and provides recommendations on how each state should improve its human rights record. Stakeholders, or NGOs, from the State under Review (SuR) can submit reports to be considered under the UPR, and this provides advocates with the opportunity to raise certain human rights concerns to be considered at UN level.
For national level advocacy – a good tip is to do some research on upcoming government consultations with civil society that might be related to the issue you’re advocating for (say, health or women’s rights if you are advocating for abortion rights). You should also see if there are any National Strategies on your advocacy issue and if there are, you can try to email or arrange to meet your local politician in order to keep them accountable to this strategy. Meeting or contacting politicians from your country can be an important step in national advocacy, however, it is not always possible for citizens in some countries in the EECA Region.