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Women and the Economy
11 October - 11 November 2004
Moderated by UNDP


The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

Section F of the Beijing Platform for Action presents 6 strategic objectives for Women and the Economy:

  1. Women's economic rights and independence, including access to employment, appropriate working conditions and control over economic resources.
  2. Facilitate women's equal access to resources, employment, markets and trade.
  3. Provide business services, training and access to markets, information and technology, particularly to low-income women.
  4. Strengthen women's economic capacity and commercial networks.
  5. Eliminate occupational segregation and all forms of employment discrimination.
  6. Promote harmonization of work and family responsibilities for women and men.

In 2000, a review of the implementation of the Platform for Action was undertaken by the 23rd special session of the General Assembly.

In the Outcome Document, key achievements emphasise increased participation of women in the labour market and gain in economic autonomy. Other measures include increased protection of women's economic and social rights, including under provisions of International Conventions and relevant compliance of national legislation with respect to such conventions. There have also been achievements in the promotion of women's entrepreneurship through adequate funding mechanisms to enhance education, training and leadership skills to boost business and enterprise management.

However, the document also states that key obstacles persists and hinder the achievement of gender equality in many areas of economic life, namely: lack of recognition and systematic mainstreaming of gender issues in macro-economic policies; slower or absence of career mobility with respect to men's position in similar jobs, not full equality of equal pay for equal job with men, lack of fulfillment of property and inheritance rights and the fact that unremunerated work remains largely a women's issue.

In March 20005, the Commission on the Status of Women will conduct a review and appraisal of the implementation of the documents adopted in 1995 and 2000. A preliminary analysis of government reports indicates that some of the achievements and challenges identified in previous review processes persist. However, it appears that there have also been some achievements regarding reconciliation of work and family life (flexible working arrangements, involvement of men, improved child care arrangements, parental leave), women's empowerment through access to credit and entrepreneurship, and the gender pay gap is slowing diminishing. Continued obstacles appear to include wage discrimination against women and lack of access to land and resources.

The current discussion provides an opportunity to share views on achievements, gaps, challenges, and propose future action.

UNDP commitment to promote gender equality and the advancement of women and the use mainstreaming as a strategy to ensure that all programmes are systematically addressing gender issues is implemented through programmes in 5 core practices: Poverty, Governance, Environment, HIV/AIDS, Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

For the purpose of this e-discussion moderated by GenderNet - UNDP's Global Gender Equality Network we would like to address the following issues:

Week 1: Policy approaches to enabling women's economic and social rights

As an opening to the discussion we would like to address approaches to enabling women's economic and social rights. What has been done to promote these rights, the mechanisms set up to ensure adequate participation of various stakeholders, entry points to initiate dialogue within Governments, national machineries, civil society? Mechanisms to initiate change and social transformation have included both mainstreaming and initiatives directed specifically at women's empowerment. Has mainstreaming has successfully promoted the removal of obstacles in achieving gender equality and how empowerment of women is linked to mainstreaming in the context of economic and social rights?

Week 2: Women and the Economy in the context of the MDGs

The second week will look at the how the Millennium Development Goals can address the topic of women and the economy. Goal 1 - Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger - is at first the Goal which may address this topic. How would women & economy fit into Goal 3? Bearing in mind the need to mainstream gender issues in all 8 Goals, which actions need to be taken, policy dialogue initiated and capacities built?

Week 3: Women and Globalization

This week will focus on how globalization has affected gender equality and the empowerment of women. How can the lack of recognition of linkages between gender issues and macro-economic issues be addressed? Is it a failure or a weakness of the whole mainstreaming approach or is there more of a need to strengthen advocacy, capacities and monitoring? Issues to be addressed might also include the dichotomy between rural and urban sectors but also least developed countries, Small Islands States, and the need to adequately address women's and gender issues in war and post-conflict and recovery economies?

Week 4: Partnerships between the public and the private sectors

The final week's discussion will focus on how linkages between the public and the private sector have been established to advance the situation of women and gender equality. What have been the major challenges? How can civil society, including NGOs, the private sector etc. contribute, and how can governments and the United Nations, including international financial institutions, make greater use of their contributions to advance the situation of women in the economy?

All discussions should include views on Best practices, lessons learned, moving forward:

What was learned from programmes implemented up until now, which are the lessons learned in relation to women and the economy? Best practices do refer to success indicators: which were they and how was success measured? What needs to be further addressed in the context of the MDGs and ownership of the mechanism?

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