UN Photo/Marco Dormino
story highlights

The ILO released the ‘World Employment and Social Outlook (WESO) Trends for Women 2017,' which identifies gender gaps as one of the most pressing labor market challenges in the world.

The ASEAN Forum on Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship underscored the importance of increasing women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025.

Also on gender equality, 52 UN leaders and senior diplomats made pledges on gender equality at the launch of the International Gender Champions-Vienna Initiative, and the AU's High Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment is expected to identify concrete actions to empower young women and girls.

15 June 2017: A report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) finds that a 25% reduction in gender disparities at workplaces could add US$5.8 trillion to the world economy and boost tax revenue, particularly for countries in North Africa, Southern Asia and the Arab region. In Austria, 52 UN leaders and senior diplomats made pledges on gender equality at the launch of the International Gender Champions-Vienna Initiative, and a forum in Bangkok proposed actions to address contraints facing women entrepreneurs.

The report, titled ‘World Employment and Social Outlook (WESO) Trends for Women 2017,’ highlights both the significant economic benefits and the positive impact on women’s well-being from their engagement in work. Slightly more than 49% of women participate in the global labor force, a figure that is almost 27 percentage points lower than for men, according to the report, which forecasts that these figures will remain unchanged in 2018. Based on current trends, the report anticipates no improvement in the gender labor gap before 2021. Further, the report finds that, once in the job market, women are less likely than men to find a job and the quality of employment they find remains a concern. To improve labor equality and reshape gender roles, the report recommends: promoting equal pay for work of equal value; tackling root causes of occupational and sectoral segregation; recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care work; and preventing and eliminating discrimination, harassment and violence in the world of work.

Deborah Greenfield, ILO, highlighted the report’s finding that 58% of women would prefer to work at paid jobs, suggesting there are challenges that restrict women’s freedom to participate in the world of work. Greenfield recommended that policymakers “alleviate the constraints that women face in choosing to enter the labour market and address the barriers they are confronted with once they are in the workplace.”

The author explained that people still fall back on the excuse that it is “unacceptable” for a women to have a paid job.

On changing attitudes towards the role of women, lead author Steven Tobin recommended introducing policies that improve work-family balance and create and protect quality jobs in the care economy. He added that people “still fall back on the excuse that it is ‘unacceptable’ for a woman to have a paid job.”

On 15 June the ILO’s International Labour Conference held a ‘World of Work Summit’ to address challenges women face in obtaining work and discuss opportunities to shape a better future for women in the workplace. The Summit also discussed the ILO-Gallup report, ‘Towards a better future for women and work: Voices of women and men,’ which found that women would prefer to work at a paid job, but work-family balance and lack of affordable care are challenges.

Also on women’s economic participation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum on Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship underscored the importance of increasing women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. The Forum also launched a publication on the topic, titled ‘ASEAN: Transforming prospects, transforming societies,’ which proposes key actions for ASEAN governments to address constraints faced by women entrepreneurs, from more creative approaches to accessing finance to increased access to innovative technologies.

Also on gender equality, 52 UN leaders and senior diplomats made pledges on gender equality at the launch of the International Gender Champions-Vienna Initiative in Vienna, Austria, on 13 June. The Champions signed the Panel Parity Pledge to strive for gender parity in all discussions and undertake two additional commitments to advance gender equality in their programmatic work or management. In a video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Champions to keep their promises “to achieve true equality” and promote justice and effectiveness. He underscored his commitment to women’s leadership across the UN system and called on male officials to join the Initiative. Sister chapters of the International Gender Champions initiative are located in New York, US, and Geneva, Switzerland.

The African Union’s (AU) High Level Panel (HLP) on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment is expected to identify concrete actions to empower young women and girls at its fourth meeting (HLP 4) which will convene from 29-30 June 2017, in Addis Ababa, on the sidelines of the 29th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly. The meeting will discuss opportunities to empower women and girls related to four pillars: employment and entrepreneurship; education and skills development; health and well-being; rights, governance and youth empowerment. [UN Press Release] [ILO Press Release] [WESO Webpage] [WESO Trends for Women 2017] [ILO Webpage on World of Work Summit] [UN Secretary-General’s Statement] [International Gender Champions Press Release] [ESCAP Press Release] [29th AU Summit Website]

related posts