The economic and financial crisis puts a disproportionate burden on women. Women are often concentrated in vulnerable employment, more likely to be unemployed than men, tend to have lower unemployment and social security benefits, and have unequal access to and control over economic and financial resources.
The five-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2000 indicated that the economic and financial crisis in Latin America, South Asia and Eastern Europe in the 1990s hit the most vulnerable social groups hardest, and women in particular faced increased burdens of unpaid work in response to reduction of public spending for health care and education. Even though both women and men were affected by job losses, women were often laid off first, as men were traditionally considered to be the main wage-earners.
If the current crisis is not addressed effectively, it could increase poverty levels and jeopardize future development. A number of countries are unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially those on reducing child mortality, improving maternal mortality and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, unless the crisis is contained.
Gender inequality carries economic costs. Missing the MDG 3 target could result in countries having 0.1-0.3 percentage points lower per capita growth rates. Estimates show that the Asia and Pacific region is losing $42 billion to $47 billion annually because of women’s limited access to employment opportunities, and another $16 billion to $30 billion annually as a result of gender gaps in education.
A growing body of evidence demonstrates that investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. It is crucial to ensure that policy responses to the financial and economic crisis take into account the differential priorities and needs of women, men, girls and boys and do not undermine the policies and plans that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission decided to focus in 2009 on the gender perspective of the financial crisis as an emerging issue. An interactive expert panel was held on 5 March 2009 where gender-specific impacts of the financial and economic crisis and their disproportionate burden on women were discussed. Participants recommended measures to ensure that gender perspectives are incorporated in policy responses to the financial crisis.
Interactive expert panel: Gender perspective of the financial crisis:
- Moderator’s summary
- Issues paper
- Panelists papers
- Press release: Governments must focus on women as economic agents during global financial
- News story: Women must be included in solving global economic meltdown, UN says
- Statement by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the 53rd Session on the Status of Women
The 2009 World Survey on the Role of Women in Development (a DESA flagship publication) prepared for the Second Committee (Economic and Financial Committee) of the General Assembly, addressed women’s control over economic resources and access to financial resources, including microfinance, within the context of the current economic and financial crisis.