Seven drivers and recommendations
From the wealth and diversity of experience around the world, the High-Level Panel identified seven primary drivers of transformation. For each of these, the Panel highlights concrete actions and interventions that have demonstrated impact in reducing gender gaps—or suggest valuable potential based on experience and analysis to date.
The High-Level Panel’s first report called on all stakeholders to take action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to realize the benefits of women’s economic empowerment. The second report identified the top priority recommendations under each of the seven drivers of change and for the broader enabling environment.
An enabling environment
The second report of the HLP identified the importance of using macroeconomic policy levers to empower women, including by devoting adequate budgetary resources to improve economic opportunities and facilitate the creation of decent work. It also recommended a greater collective voice for women in shaping economic policy.
The seven drivers
Driver 1: Tackling adverse norms and promoting positive role models
Challenging and transforming the negative and harmful norms that limit women's access to work and that often devalue their work are core to achieving women’s economic empowerment.
- Globally, nearly two in five people agree that men should have stronger rights than women to jobs when they are scarce.
- Eliminate, prevent and respond to all forms of violence against women and girls.
- End gender discrimination and change stereotypes gendering roles and abilities.
- Eradicate the stigmatization of informal workers and support their organizations.
Driver 2: Ensuring legal protection and reforming discriminatory laws and regulations
Laws reflect society’s expectations for gender roles. By guaranteeing equal opportunities and protections, and by removing legal barriers, governments signal their commitment to achieve and enforce gender equality.
- Ninety per cent of economies have at least one gender-differentiated law, and there are 943 gender-differentiated laws among 170 economies.
- Reform laws discriminating against women and enact legislation enabling gender equality.
- Expand social protection coverage for all.
- Create an enabling legal environment for informal workers.
- Increase women’s access to justice, legal awareness and legal aid.
Driver 3: Recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid work and care
Progress on the agenda to expand women’s economic empowerment depends, to a significant extent, on closing the gender gap in unpaid work and investing in quality care services and decent care jobs.
- Women undertake three times more unpaid work than men and spend about half as much time in paid work.
- Recognize, redistribute and reduce care work.
- Ensure decent work for paid care workers, including migrant workers.
- Foster social norm change to redistribute care from women to men and ensure that care is their equal right and responsibility.
Driver 4: Building assets – Digital, financial and property
Eliminating gender disparities in work and in society depends on eliminating disparities in access to key assets. Digital, financial and property assets matter for economic opportunities.
- Worldwide, some 2.3 billion women do not have any Internet access, and more than 1.7 billion do not own a mobile phone—some 200 million fewer women than men have online access or mobile phones.
- 57 per cent of women globally have a financial account, against 64 per cent of men.
- Gender differences in the ownership and control of property are major determinants of gender inequality.
- Ensure women’s equal access to and control over productive resources, including land, labor and capital.
- Encourage stakeholders of a country to assess how women are progressing along the digital inclusion continuum.
- Enable women’s voice to shape digital, financial and property products, services and policies.
Driver 5: Changing business culture and practice
Business culture, practice and policies are major drivers of women’s economic opportunities. Beyond basic protections and standards that are the “right thing to do,” companies are realizing the business value of women’s economic empowerment.
- According to Credit Suisse calculations based on 3,000 companies across 40 countries and all major sectors, women accounted for only 4 per cent of chief executive officers in 2013.
- Conduct an internal self-audit (on pay, employment, leadership, CSR and supplier engagement).
- Incentivize frontline management to set and meet targets for gender inclusion.
- Set procurement targets for sourcing from women-owned enterprises.
- Map value chains to ensure ethical sourcing and workers’ rights.
Driver 6: Improving public sector practices in employment and procurement
Beyond their key roles in determining the legal, institutional and policy environments that affect women’s economic opportunities, governments are major employers and procurers of goods and services. The power of governments in setting high standards for and exemplifying gender equality at work cannot be underestimated.
- Globally, only an estimated 1 per cent of public procurement contracts go to women-owned enterprises.
- Promote gender equality in public sector employment by establishing gender targets or quotas for hiring and measuring progress.
- Promote women-owned enterprises and women’s collectives by considering establishing and tracking government-wide targets for women’s participation in procurements.
- Provide support for informal and agricultural workers by reforming procurement laws and regulations to allow collective enterprises to bid on public procurements.
Driver 7: Strengthening visibility, collective voice and representation
The rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are fundamental labour and human rights, enshrined in international ILO conventions going back to the 1940s. These rights apply to all workers, including workers in the informal economy. Women’s organizing allows working women to voice their needs and demands more effectively, enhance their bargaining power, advocate for legal and policy reforms and increase access to markets on fair and efficient terms.
- Trade union membership has been on the decline globally, but women’s share of membership is rising. Women are the majority of trade union members in 33 per cent of the 39 developing and developed countries with data.
- Ratify and implement ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).
- Reform legal frameworks to protect informal workers and promote the formalization of their work in line with ILO Recommendation No. 204.