Commentaries on women’s economic empowerment

Francesca Rhodes Gender, Her Series, Women's Economic Empowerment

We’re delighted to announce the launch of a new blogging series focusing on women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and equality with contributors from Oxfam, INGOs, women’s organisations and academia. Francesca Rhodes, Gender Policy Advisor, introduces the series. 

Throughout August, Oxfam Policy and Practice in collaboration with the WEE Agriculture Knowledge Hub, will be hosting and highlighting discussions and research on women’s economic empowerment and equality through a new series called ‘Her Series’. This series coincides with the work of the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, which is charged with recommending how the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 can be implemented and a step change in progress towards achieving the targets can be realised. Oxfam International’s Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima is a member of this panel.

Achieving women’s economic empowerment has become an urgent goal for a wide range of actors. Women’s rights organisations, labour and feminist movements have long highlighted and campaigned to end the inequality which defines gender and the economy, including how much of women’s work is not even counted as part of the economy since it is carried out unpaid or in the home.

In 2016 the issue is very much on the agenda, with the World Economic Forum warning that at current progress, it will take 118 years to achieve full economic equality between men and women. Similarly, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has calculated that progress in closing one aspect of gender economic inequality, –  the gender pay gap, has stalled and this will take 70 years to close.

The Policy and Practice ‘Her Series’ aims to take a look at the multiple causes and types of inequality which lie behind these statistics

The statistics are well known and speak for themselves. Although there are regional differences, women’s participation in the labour market has stagnated globally since the early 1990s; worldwide, half of women are in the labour force compared to three-quarters of men. Where women are in the formal labour market, they consistently earn less than men. Globally, the gender pay gap is 24 percent, with women in most countries earning 70% to 90% percent of men’s wages.  In 155 countries there is still at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities. In Asia and Africa, 75% percent of women’s work is in the informal sector, without access to benefits such as sick pay, maternity leave or pensions.

The Policy and Practice ‘Her Series’ aims to take a look at the multiple causes and types of inequality which lie behind these statistics, and what solutions are being proposed by different actors. Topics such as women’s collective action and participation, unpaid care work, decent work and links between economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive health and rights and violence against women will be discussed. Do get in touch if you would like to contribute.


Foyeke Tolani