Draft Platform for Action
F. [Inequality in women's access to and participation in the definition of economic structures and policies [and the productive process itself]] [Economic potential and independence of women] [Gender equality in economic structures, policies and all forms of productive activity]

152. There are considerable differences in women's and men's access and opportunities to exert power over economic structures in their societies. In most parts of the world, women are virtually absent from or are poorly represented in economic decision-making, including the formulation of financial, monetary, commercial and other economic policies, as well as tax systems and rules governing pay. Since it is often within the framework of such policies that individual men and women make their decisions, inter alia, on how to divide their time between remunerated and unremunerated work, the actual development of these economic structures and policies has a direct impact on women's and men's access to economic resources, their economic power and consequently the extent of equality between them at the individual and family levels as well as in society as a whole.

153. In many regions, women's participation in remunerated work in the formal and non-formal labour market increased significantly and changed during the past decade. [While women continued to work in agriculture and fisheries, they also became increasingly involved in micro, small and medium-scale enterprises and became more dominant in the expanding informal sector. On the negative side, they were impelled into the workplace by economic hardship and became preferred workers, often with low pay and poor working conditions, because they were seen as easier to subordinate. On the positive side, some entered the workforce by choice as they became more aware of their rights.] [In other regions, women's participation in economic life changed as part of the restructuring process that resulted in a loss of jobs for many professional and skilled women.] Gender segregated employment is still the dominant pattern of the economy, and gaps between female and male wages for equal work and work of equal value continue to be prevalent in both the private and public sectors. Women have increasingly become owners and managers of small and medium-scale enterprises but remain underrepresented in economic decision-making at both the national and international levels. [Similarly, women and gender concerns are largely absent from the policy formulation process in the multilateral institutions [that define the terms of structural adjustment programmes, loans and grants].]

154. Discrimination in education and training, hiring and remuneration, promotion and horizontal mobility practices, as well as inflexible working conditions, lack of access to productive resources and inadequate sharing of family responsibilities, combined with a lack of or insufficient services such as child care, continue to restrict employment, economic, professional and other opportunities and mobility for women and make their involvement stressful. Moreover, attitudinal obstacles inhibit women's participation in developing economic policy and [in some regions, restrict girls' access to] education and training for economic management.

155. Women's share in the labour force continues to rise and almost everywhere women are working more outside the household, although there has not been a parallel lightening of responsibility for unremunerated work in the household and community. Women's income is becoming increasingly necessary to households of all types. In some regions, there has been a growth in women's entrepreneurship and other self-reliant activities, particularly in the informal sector. In many countries, women are the majority of workers in non- standard work, such as temporary, casual, multiple part-time, contract and home-based employment.

156. [Women migrants, especially domestic workers, contribute to the economy of the sending country through their remittances and at the same time contribute to the economy of the receiving country by taking over the domestic work of women nationals who are then able to engage in productive work in the receiving country.]

157. Insufficient attention to gender analysis has meant that women's contributions and concerns remain too often ignored in economic structures, such as financial markets and institutions, labour markets, economics as an academic discipline, economic and social infrastructure, taxation and social security systems, as well as in families and households. As a result, many policies and programmes may continue to contribute to inequalities between women and men. Where progress has been made in integrating gender perspectives, programme and policy effectiveness has also been enhanced.

158. Although many women have advanced in economic structures, for the majority of women, particularly those who face additional barriers, continuing obstacles have hindered women's ability to achieve economic autonomy and to ensure sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their dependants. Women are active in a variety of economic areas, which they often combine, ranging from wage labour and subsistence farming and fishing to the informal sector. However, legal and customary barriers to ownership of or access to land, natural resources, capital, credit, technology and other means of production, as well as wage differentials, contribute to impeding the economic progress of women. [The value of women's unremunerated contribution to the economy, whether working in [the home,] agriculture, food production, family enterprises, community service or [domestic work], is still often undervalued and unrecorded and therefore not reflected in current labour statistics and national accounts.] [Progress is needed in statistical concepts and methods of measuring and [valuing] unremunerated productive activity in the development of economic and social policy.]

159. [Although some new employment opportunities have been created for women as a result of [recent economic events] [the globalization of the economy], there are also trends that have exacerbated inequalities between women and men. In some cases, globalization is undermining women's self-reliant initiatives in savings, production and trade. In some regions, the international and gender division of labour has often reinforced the segregation of women into a limited number of occupations.]

160. These trends have been characterized by low wages, little or no labour standards protection, poor working conditions, particularly with regard to women's occupational health and safety, low skill levels, and a lack of job security and social security, in both the formal and informal sectors. Women's unemployment is a serious and increasing problem in many countries and sectors. Young workers in the informal and rural sectors and migrant female workers remain the least protected by labour and immigration laws. Women, particularly those who are heads of households with young children, are limited in their employment opportunities for reasons that include inflexible working conditions and inadequate sharing, by men and by society, of family responsibilities.

161. [In countries that are undergoing fundamental political, economic and social transformation, the skills of women have constituted a major contribution to the economic life of their countries, but these skills are not well utilized in the emerging new economies.]

162. Lack of employment in the private sector and reductions in public services and public service jobs have affected women disproportionately. In some countries, women take on more unpaid work [by replacing public services], such as the care of children and those who are ill or elderly and in compensating for lost household income [particularly when public services are not available]. In many cases, [employment creation strategies, however, have tended to focus on traditional male occupations and sectors].

163. [For those women in paid work, many experience obstacles that prevent them from achieving their potential. While some are increasingly found in lower levels of management, attitudinal discrimination often prevents them from being promoted further. The experience of sexual harassment is an affront to a worker's dignity and prevents women from making a contribution commensurate with their abilities. The lack of a family-friendly work environment, including a lack of appropriate and affordable child care, and inflexible working hours further prevent women from achieving their full potential.]

164. In the private sector [including transnational and national enterprises,] women are largely absent from management and policy levels, denoting discriminatory hiring and promotion policies and practices. The unfavourable work environment as well as the limited number of employment opportunities available have led many women to seek alternatives. Women have increasingly become self-employed and owners and managers of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises. The expansion of the informal sector, in many countries, and of self-organized and independent enterprise is in large part due to women, whose [collaborative, self-help and traditional practices and] initiatives in production and trade represent a vital economic resource. When they gain access to and control over capital, credit and other resources, technology and training, women can increase production, marketing and income for sustainable development.

165. Taking into account the fact that continuing inequalities and noticeable progress coexist, rethinking employment policies is necessary in order to integrate the gender perspective and to draw attention to a wider range of opportunities as well as to address any negative gender implications of current patterns of work and employment. To realize fully equality between women and men in their contribution to the economy, active efforts are required for equal recognition and appreciation of the influence that the work, experience, knowledge and values of both women and men have in society.

166. In addressing the economic potential and independence of women, Governments and other actors should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes so that before decisions are taken, an analysis is made of the effects on women and men respectively.

[Promote women's economic self-reliance, including access to employment, appropriate working conditions and control over economic resources - land, capital and technology]


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