Women and the Global Economy
Lin Lean Lim
Gender Promotion Programme
International Labour Office
Paper (revised) for
Beijing+5: Future actions and initiatives
Workshop organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women
Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) United Nations
8-10 November 1999
This Note reviews what has been happening in the global economy since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995; highlights the gender implications; and identifies some key areas for future action. The focus is on women in the world of work, but the proposals for action cut across several of the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action. Since the discrimination and disadvantages faced by women continue to be pervasive, they cannot be dealt with in an isolated fashion but should be considered within a comprehensive and integrated framework emphasizing womens rights as human rights and encompassing both the economic and social dimensions of globalization.
The global context since Beijing: new challenges but also new opportunities
Since Beijing, the social consequences of globalization have been starkly demonstrated. The emerging world economy and rapid advances in information and communications technology have raised production, trade, capital flows and e-commerce to hitherto unknown levels. But at the same time they have widened economic and social inequalities between and within countries, exacerbated human vulnerabilities and insecurities and changed the nature of jobs and work. A major economic crisis has swept through many parts of the world in recent years and thrust millions of people into the ranks of the unemployed and the poor. A disproportionate number of these are women.
"Overall, globalization to date has done too little to minimize gender inequalities. While in some circumstances it may have decreased them (particularly in countries where it had led to an unprecedented employment of female labour) in other cases it has intensified them. Thus, overall globalization, as a new form of intensified market-driven activity, has not yet managed to overturn gender-based, discriminatory forces of economic development where they have been traditionally at work" .
Although sex-disaggregated data on employment trends since Beijing are scarce, the description in the Box provides a broad picture. The creation and destruction of jobs and the changing nature of work in the process of globalization have differentially affected women and men. Some women have gained greater economic opportunities, including in non-traditional sectors; but many have been more negatively affected than men and have been exposed to greater exploitation and vulnerability under labour conditions of diminishing standards and social protection.
Post-Beijing and in the new millennium, there are obviously new challenges and constraints facing women. But perhaps there are also greater opportunities than ever before for addressing gender inequality as a highly important aspect of the social dimension of globalization and for promoting and realizing the human rights of women and girls as a integral part of basic human rights. The (potentially) enabling environment can be traced to several developments and events since Beijing.
Firstly, the conventional policy response to global adjustment spearheaded by the International Financial Institutions in the 1980s and based on the fundamental assumption that free markets are sufficient for economic growth and very nearly sufficient for social stability and political democracy has proven inadequate and inefficient. Therefore, there has been increasing international acknowledgement of the need to promote development within a human rights and social justice framework. For example, the Director-General of the ILO in his 1999 report to the 87th Session of the International Labour Conference emphasized that "a global economy without a sound social pillar will lack stability and political credibility" and called for the "promotion of opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity". Central to the growing calls for "globalization with a human face" is the elimination of gender discrimination in employment and occupation and the protection of vulnerable women workers.
Secondly, there has been increasing international focus on the realization of human rights, especially with 1998 marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Singapore, 1996, renewed a commitment to observe internationally recognized core labour rights, including the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. In June 1998, the 174 Member States of the ILO adopted the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and pledged to respect, promote and realize in good faith the principles and rights relating to: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The Declaration serves as a point of reference for the global community to work together to create a climate for economic and social development that respects fundamental principles and rights at work.
Thirdly, the growing emphasis on social justice and human rights since Beijing has been linked to rising social consciousness, stronger social movements and a growing emphasis on the "spotlight phenomenon". Increasing consumer choice and access to knowledge and new means of communications have made individuals and social institutions not merely subjects but also potential actors in the process of globalization. Social movements involving national and international alliances among NGOs, trade unions, consumer groups, media, the research community and other civil groups are influencing market outcomes including through withdrawing demand for goods produced by child labour and sweatshop womens labour. There is also increasing international media focus on violations of workers rights, encouraging the growing movement towards corporate social responsibility. Companies are now increasingly concerned that they project a "socially responsible" image, in particular by providing proper working conditions for female and male workers.
Fourthly, at the 1999 World Economic Forum in Davos, the private sector agreed to cooperate with the United Nations on a Global Compact to promote human rights, improve labour conditions and protect the environment. The nine principles covered in the Global Compact derive from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the Copenhagen Social Summit and the Rio Declaration of the Conference on Environment and Development.
The areas for future action
Future action should take advantage of the post-Beijing enabling environment to:
translate the greater political will and commitment into more effective and sustainable promotion and realization of the human rights of women and girls as an integral part of basic human rights;
adopt a life-cycle approach to the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls;
promote more and better jobs for women;
enhance the links between womens empowerment and the reduction of child labour;
protect vulnerable female migrant workers and tackle the growing problem of trafficking of women and girls into exploitative forms of labour; and
give specific attention to the problems of men, in the true spirit of gender equality.
Promoting and realizing the human rights of women and girls:
The right to equality and non-discrimination on the basis of gender is increasingly recognized as being at the core of human rights, including workers rights. Gender equality in employment is provided for in various international human rights instruments the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No.111), Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No.100), the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No.156), and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
There has been an increase in signatures and ratifications of the human rights instruments since Beijing. But governments and the social partners still face serious difficulties in translating the provisions and principles into national law and practice. For example, the ILO continually receives a large number of requests from countries for assistance to enact national law that is in conformity with international standards and at the same time appropriate to internal conditions, and also to formulate and implement policies which lead to true equality of opportunity and treatment in employment. A workshop of the UN Inter-agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality and the OECD/DAC Working Party on Gender Equality in October 1998 in Rome affirmed the importance of the rights-based approach to gender equality, but stressed that operationalization of the approach in terms of practical policies and programmes is still a challenge.
International organizations, such as the ILO, should therefore assist governments and the social partners to identify and practically overcome the barriers to ratification and effective implementation of the human rights instruments. Future action and initiatives should focus on:
Improving the dissemination and sharing of information among countries and the social partners on effective legislation and policies, good practices and lessons learnt in regard of tools, methodologies and monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the promotion and realization of human rights and workers rights. For example, international organizations could collaborate to build up information and data bases (which could be widely disseminated through the Internet) on equal employment opportunity policies for women and men (with actual examples of national constitutional provisions, labour codes, anti-discrimination laws, human rights legislation, case law, administrative regulations, corporate codes of conduct, collective bargaining agreements, etc.);
Technical assistance by international organizations to countries: to provide training and policy advice to strengthen the capacity of law makers and enforcers and labour administrations to formulate and enforce laws that give expression to fundamental rights and principles;
Media and educational campaigns at national and international levels, to promote knowledge of human rights and concomitant obligations (including promoting the principle of gender equality as central to the realization of human rights). Very importantly, those for whom the rights are intended should be aware of their rights and know how to enforce these rights legal literacy for women workers in both formal and informal sectors should be given greater emphasis;
Measures to involve all parts of civil society in the implementation and monitoring of the right to gender equality. For example, workers and employers organizations should be encouraged and assisted to incorporate a rights-based approach in their activities and to play an active role in the promotion and protection of the rights of women workers. For example, there are now an increasing number of examples of alliances among NGOs, trade unions, consumer groups, religious and other civil groups working for the protection of migrant and trafficked women, and campaigns against companies using child labour or sweat shop female labour (such as the "Clean clothes" campaign), etc.;
Particular assistance and encouragement should be given for the inclusion of gender equality provisions in codes of conduct by public and private sector corporations, in socially ethical investment criteria by investment companies and mutual trust funds, in collective bargaining agreements by workers and employers organizations, etc.
Adopting a life-cycle approach to the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls:
The disadvantages and discrimination faced by the female half of the population tend to persist from cradle to grave. What happens to the girl child determines the destiny of the woman worker, and the older woman worker was once the girl child. As emphasized in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, it is important to adopt a life-cycle view so as to address:
negative cultural attitudes and practices and discrimination faced by girls/daughters within families;
the elimination of the worst forms of child labour and protection of the girl child and adolescent girls;
gender inequalities in access to education and training and entry into the labour market (including higher female youth unemployment);
the problems faced by women attempting to combine a career, marriage and a family;
the greater likelihood for women vis-a-vis men to move in an out of the labour force several times over their life course as they seek to combine work and family responsibilities;
the links between womens employment and child labour;
the special difficulties of the "sandwich generation" of working women who are marrying later, having children later and then having to cope with care of young children and the elderly; and
the discrimination faced by older women both in and outside the labour market.
Demographic and labour market trends indicate that greater attention should be devoted to older women workers. On the one hand, discrimination against "older" women workers appears to be occurring at earlier chronological ages (in many countries, women above 35 years of age are finding it increasingly difficult to get jobs or be rehired). On the other hand, women outnumber men in old age but tend generally to have lower pension and social security entitlements. As widows, heads of households or living in single member households, older women are highly vulnerable without income supports.
Future initiatives should encourage all the social partners to adopt such a life cycle approach, so as to ensure that discrimination encountered at one stage of life is not perpetuated at later stages and that girls and women are able to make smooth transitions from one stage to another. Such a life cycle approach would also emphasize that economic and social reproduction cannot be separated and that there should be better harmonization of work and family responsibilities for women and men. It would draw attention to the fact that, unlike the standard pattern of the twentieth century, more and more women (and men) will be having flexible working lives moving in and out of the labour market at various times of their lives and changing work status more often. In practical terms, attention should be given to:
Promoting positive socio-cultural attitudes towards the value of girls/daughters to families, and investing in the education and training of girls;
Protecting the vulnerable girl child and adolescent girls: girls are often more likely than boys to be the victims of some of the worst forms of child labour, domestic violence and sexual abuse, genital mutilation, forced marriages, etc.;
Where needed, affirmative action policies to eliminate the effects of past discrimination and "level the playing field" for women and men (in all areas from education to recruitment and promotions);
Improving the assessment and accounting of the unpaid work of girls and women within and outside the home (including care work, voluntary and community work);
Family-friendly policies including flexible work arrangements, incentives and benefits, social security and taxation arrangements, etc. so as to promote the harmonization of work and family responsibilities. The challenge is to convince employers, especially of smaller enterprises, that such policies are cost effective. It is also important to ensure that such policies are not aimed exclusively at women; and that both male and female workers are encouraged to make use of them without fearing that it will be construed as lack of commitment to their work or justification for lack of promotion opportunities;
Ensuring positive linkages between womens employment and the reduction of child labour (as discussed below);
Improving opportunities for retraining and lifelong learning for women so as enhance their employability and their ability to move in and out of the labour force at different stages of their lives and of family formation;
Flexible labour policies, including phased retirement, better integration of women into the workforce and men into the lives of families, so as to allow for gender equity, intergenerational care and opportunities for resourceful ageing;
Specific measures to do away with discrimination against older women workers at all stages of the employment process, including recruitment, selection, training, promotion, redundancy and termination. This may involve reviewing recruitment and training policies and procedures (eg. banning job advertisements that not only specify sex but also age and physical characteristics), redesigning jobs (eg. by providing seating and better lighting), and analysing social security and pension arrangements from the perspective of the older woman worker.
More and better jobs for women:
With unemployment and under-employment still the most serious economic problem in many countries and women still more vulnerable than men, the challenge remains to enlarge the world of work and to provide greater opportunities for productive and remunerative employment. Very importantly, we need to ensure that quantitative increases in female employment are matched by qualitative improvements in working conditions and family life and that "non-standard" or "atypical" forms of work are not sub-standard in terms of benefits and security. Labour markets have changed so much that atypical workers -- the majority of whom are women -- are increasingly typical. If globalization is to benefit all, we have to turn our attention to workers beyond the formal wage market -- to those in home work and the informal sector, the self-employed in both rural and urban areas, those who are outside the workforce, those whose work is unpaid and unacknowledged.
"Better jobs" or "decent work" for women has a number of dimensions including the right to at least minimum levels of earnings; equal pay for work of equal value; proper working conditions and protection against occupational diseases, hazards and injuries in the workplace; the elimination of sexual harassment; equal opportunities for lifelong learning and training and career advancement; family-friendly employment policies; enhanced employability and adequate social protection against work-related insecurities or contingencies; the right to freedom of association and collective representation and bargaining.
Since Beijing there have certainly been more much greater efforts to provide decent work for women. But there is still a long way to go; the recommendations are therefore for:
Advancing knowledge on how and why women and men continue to be differentially affected by the processes of job creation and job destruction associated with globalization, and on what can be done to further break down occupational segregation by gender. The international organizations and research community should collaborate to gather and dissemination information widely on tested good practices and innovative programmes for creating more and better jobs for women in different cultural, political and economic contexts;
Actively and visibly mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes of governments and the social actors. It is especially important in this context for governments to develop and implement gender-sensitive and employment-intensive macro economic policies;
Placing emphasis on human resource development as key to new and better jobs for women. School and post-secondary enrolment rates have risen in almost all countries and in many cases girls are out-performing boys at school, but women compared to men still have inferior access to vocational training, workplace-based training, lifelong learning, training programmes for the unemployed, new technology training and entrepreneurship training;
Measures to ensure that non-standard or atypical forms of employment are not sub-standard in terms of working conditions and protection for workers. For example, countries should be encouraged to ratify and implement the ILO Part-time Work Convention, 1994 (No.175) and the Home Work Convention, 1996 (No.177);
Strengthening social protection and social security for women. The focus should especially be on support services and innovative schemes that are appropriate to the needs and constraints of women in low income communities, in the informal sector and with limited financial means (there are increasingly well-known examples, such as SEWA, Working Womens Forum, Grameen Bank, Homenet, etc);
Advocacy with hard evidence to better convince governments, employers and families that equality of opportunity and treatment for women and men makes good economic and social sense. Information is important on how and why gender equality in employment enhances economic efficiency, promotes worker morale, reduces labour turnover, improves the socially responsible image of companies, etc. It is also important to demonstrate that womens particular communication skills and management styles can enhance productivity and competitiveness for companies adopting high-road strategies.
Enhancing the links between womens empowerment and the reduction of child labour:
The elimination of gender discrimination in the world of work is not only the right thing to do it is also the smart thing to do. There needs to be better understanding and appreciation of why gender equality in employment makes good economic and social sense not just for governments and corporations or for women themselves but also for their families and communities. The links between womens empowerment through more and better jobs and poverty alleviation and improved family and child welfare need to be better understood and effectively developed in policies and programmes.
A very important area is the link between womens employment and the reduction of child labour. Recent years have seen an upsurge of efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. There is now a worldwide campaign for the ratification of the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No.182). While the responsibility for promoting the rights of children lies with both men and women, there is substantial empirical evidence that within families, mothers tend to have a greater influence than fathers on childrens education, health and welfare; and women tend to use their income, however meagre, for the benefit of the family more than do men. However, current policies and programmes tend to address separately the problems of womens employment and those of child labour. For example, efforts, whether by governments, international organizations or NGOs, to promote womens employment often do not specifically address issues such as how womens economic empowerment can lead to more equal gender relations within the family or improve family welfare, in particular childrens education and their protection from labour exploitation.
Certain types of womens employment may, in fact, lead mothers to withdraw their children from school either to join them in their jobs, or to take over household responsibilities. The linkages between the employment of women and the use of child labour tend to be particularly significant for the girl child, especially adolescent girls in poor families where mothers are working outside the home. The eldest daughter tends to be in greatest danger of being withdrawn from school to help the working mother out with family responsibilities. And some forms of womens activities, such as prostitution, may have inter-generational impacts by providing negative role models for girls.
To contribute more effectively to the achievement of two critical human rights objectives, it is proposed that:
The social actors systematically take account of the linkages between womens employment and child labour in their policy and programme formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In particular, activities at the local and community levels to promote womens employment and those to reduce child labour should be more systematically and coherently integrated, so as to exploit the synergies and result in wider and more sustained impacts directly benefiting women, children and families;
There is more effective information gathering and dissemination on these linkages. A clear understanding of the nature of the linkages is key to the design of successful interventions, but currently very little documented information and experience exists. It is therefore critical to conduct action research, eg. to identify the economic sectors and characteristics of womens employment and other contextual factors that positively or negatively affect child labour and that clarify how these linkages are manifested;
There is systematic compilation and sharing of good practices and innovative approaches for ensuring that womens economic and social empowerment leads to improvement in child welfare and protection and the reduction of child labour; eg. group organization measures at the local level could focus on organizing women into community watch groups to monitor vulnerable children; schemes for informal sector women could test whether it would be appropriate or effective to make access to credit or marketing facilities conditional on the women undertaking to ensure regular school attendance of their children.
Protecting vulnerable female migrant workers and combatting trafficking of women and girls:
Post-Beijing, this is certainly one area where the problems have assumed larger and more serious dimensions and where much stronger and effective measures are needed. There has been feminization of international migration, with more women, especially Asian women, moving as autonomous economic migrants. When undocumented flows are also considered, both the number and proportion of women are likely to be much higher. There can be little argument that these women are among the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. "If migrants are concentrated in SALEP-jobs (Shunned by All Nationals Except the Very Poorest), migrant women are concentrated in the most vulnerable of these jobs" . "Their vulnerability lies principally in the fact that they are employed abroad and hence outside the legal protection of their country of origin, but is also due to the fact that they often hold jobs for which there is little protection under social legislation: domestic workers, manual workers (in agriculture, factories or export processing zones), hostesses or entertainers in nightclubs or cabarets, etc. Their situation is made worse by the lack of autonomy and the strong relationship of subordination that are typical of the jobs usually held by these workers; added to this is the fact that these women are usually young and poor, living in fear of losing their jobs, having had to leave their families in their countries of origin, do not speak the language of the country of employment, are unaware that they have rights that are being infringed and usually do not know where to go for help. In these circumstances, the fact that they are in an irregular situation in the country of employment or that they are illegally employed there makes them even more vulnerable to violence or ill-treatment" .
It is therefore recommended that :
Sending countries should introduce protective measures as part of their labour emigration policies and programmes, including:
simplifying administrative procedures and lowering the costs (eg. for passports, etc.) for overseas labour migration, so as to reduce irregular migration;
exerting more effective control of private recruitment and employment agents;
mounting campaigns, in collaboration with NGOs and other social actors, to better inform potential migrants and their families of the actual costs and benefits of overseas employment;
organizing pre-departure and training courses for women going to work overseas;
promoting the use of model employment contracts for overseas employment, specifying minimum terms and conditions. Sending countries could also require that individual employment contracts, such as those for domestic maids, are verified by labour attaches and authenticated by their diplomatic mission in the country of employment;
training labour attaches, embassy staff and other concerned officials to better address the problems of female migrant workers;
encouraging and supporting female migrant workers to build up their own support structures and networks in countries of employment.
Sending and receiving countries should cooperate at the bilateral level through the use of "operational agreements" setting out specific guidelines for the treatment of migrant workers (and requiring the receiving country to legally enforce the agreement) or "framework agreements" (which are simply memoranda of understanding and which have no legal binding force). They should also cooperate to share information on and to impose harsher penalties on illegal employment agencies and unscrupulous employers.
There should be reinforced and systematic efforts to promote awareness among all parties of the various international instruments relating to the protection of both male and female migrant workers, and to encourage countries to ratify and observe these instruments.
Since Beijing, there has also been an alarming increase in international trafficking, with women and girls much more likely than men and boys to be human cargo, and ending up in intolerable forms of employment, including forced prostitution, exploitative and abusive domestic service and manufacturing production under slavery like conditions. Trafficking includes a component of recruitment and/or transportation of a person most often for labour exploitation by means of violence, threat, deception or debt bondage. Forms of trafficking range on a continuum from kidnapping to persuading women and children to be smuggled voluntarily into jobs, the precise nature of which they are usually ignorant. High-risk women and children are often poor, uneducated, unskilled; and come from households which are debt-ridden and socio-economically excluded, and from ethnic minorities and tribal groups. Women and children who are trafficked are particularly vulnerable to exploitative labour conditions due to the lack of livelihood choices and access to services, lack of information, inability to speak the local language and their usually illegal status in the receiving country.
In its resolution 52/98 of 12 December 1997, the United Nations General Assembly emphasized the need for more concerted and sustained action over the recent alarming levels of trafficking of women and children, and called upon governments, regional and international organizations to reform laws and strengthen enforcement; address the root factors that encourage trafficking; cooperate and take concerted action to dismantle trafficking networks; establish programmes for the rehabilitation of victims, including providing for their social, medical and psychological care; and developing educational and training programmes to prevent trafficking.
A programme of action to address trafficking of women and girls should focus on:
The sending countries: In these countries, the ultimate solution is employment creation and poverty eradication. But in the immediate term, the focus in source communities should be on (a) prevention; and (b) reintegration. The prevention measures could involve:
information campaigns, using different media (radio, street plays, text books) and channels (community leaders, school teachers, those rescued from trafficking) to sensitize vulnerable women and girls and their families and communities to the dangers, abuses and exploitation of those involved in illegal migration and illegal employment (including information on sexually transmitted diseases and other health risks), and to familiarize and assist them with actions they can take to protect themselves from unscrupulous recruiters and employers;
training for key community members (village elders, youth leaders, grassroots womens groups, law enforcers) so that they are better able to establish their own watchdog efforts.
The repatriation and rehabilitation efforts for those rescued from trafficking should include:
practical assistance (with immigration, legal aid, protective shelters, health, dealing with abusive family situations);
counselling to help victims build up their self-esteem;
sensitization for not just the victims but for their communities to remove social stigmatization; and
monitoring, follow-up and after-care to ensure that the vulnerable women and girls do not become victims again.
The receiving countries: Here the efforts should focus on information campaigns to sensitize civil society to the plight of those trafficked into forced prostitution and other exploitative forms of work. Concerned local groups should be encouraged in their efforts to better protect and support vulnerable victims. There should also be awareness raising and training for immigration officers, border police, labour inspectors, health officials and other law enforcers, so that they are better equipped to deal with traffickers and the victims of trafficking;
Cooperation between sending and receiving countries: Since trafficking is a phenomenon involving cross-border flows, the problem cannot be effectively tackled without the active cooperation of sending and receiving countries. There should be collection and sharing of information on trafficking networks and joint arrangements for dismantling these networks and protecting, rescuing and rehabilitating the victims;
Countries should be encouraged to ratify and implement international conventions on trafficking in persons and forced labour.
Addressing the problems of men:
The message for women in the new millennium is far from gloomy. Certainly, the social context in terms of the growing concern for social justice and the realization of human rights bodes well for real and sustainable progress towards the improvement of womens position . Gender mainstreaming strategies have been adopted by governments and public and private sector institutions on a growing scale. Knowledge-based societies, with their stress on brain rather than brawn, should open up greater opportunities for women. There are indications that the workplaces of the future will be increasingly feminized. For example, organizations increasingly want employees who can adapt to a variety of tasks, and men tend not to be as flexible as women. Also, technology based services and IT industries tend to be more women-friendly than the male-dominated manufacturing industries. Womens communication skills and management styles are increasingly being recognized as important for companies adopting high-road strategies for enhancing productivity and competitiveness.
Men, on the other hand, are facing a number of difficulties coping with the march of women into the labour force and changing gender relations in the workplace and society. Men have been hit by unemployment. In fact, in some countries, they are experiencing higher levels of unemployment than women. "As their jobs have declined, so have their prospects for marriage, for who wants to link their lot with a jobless deadbeat? And as work and marriage have declined together, so everyone has suffered, for these two, since time immemorial, have been the twin responsibilities that have persuaded men to stay with women and children, obey the law and behave as social animals. For women, work and family are often competing spheres; for men, they are linked".
To promote true gender equality, there should, therefore, also be attention given to men. There should be specific measures to help men cope with growing employment insecurity and to learn to deal with female co-workers, women bosses, working wives, dual earner couples and taking on a more equal share of family responsibilities. In the changing context of gender relations, men should be encouraged and assisted, such as through sensitization and awareness raising efforts, to question and to redefine their roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis women. Boys too need new role models.