Transforming economies, realizing rights

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they would have equal access to opportunities and resources – a good job with equal pay, or access to land – and social protection, which together would provide enough income to support a decent standard of living, from birth to older age.

their life choices would be unconstrained by gender stereotypes, stigma and violence; the paid and unpaid work that women do would be respected and valued; and women would be able to live their lives free from violence and sexual harassment.

they would have an equal say in economic decision-making: from having a voice in how time and money are spent in their households; to the ways in which resources are raised and allocated in their national economies; to the broader economic policies set by global institutions.

The gap between the vision and reality is not inevitable. Policies can help to close the gaps, transforming economies and realizing human rights.

Transforming work for women’s rights
With the right mix of economic and social policies, governments can generate decent jobs for women and ensure that the unpaid care work that goes into sustaining all economies is recognized and supported.

Making social policy work for women
Well-designed social services (health, care services and water and sanitation) and social protection measures (family allowances and pensions) can enhance women’s income security, and expand their life options.

Towards an enabling macroeconomic environment
Macroeconomic policies can and should support the realization of women’s rights, by creating dynamic and stable economies, generating decent work and mobilizing resources to fund vital public services.

Women’s economic and social rights – the right to a decent job, to health care and a life free from violence and discrimination - are guaranteed in human rights treaties, which almost all governments in the world have signed. Governments are ultimately responsible for delivering these rights, but they cannot do it alone. International donors, the private sector and civil society must also play their part.


Progress 2015 draws on the experiences of those working toward gender equality and women’s rights around the world. It provides the key elements of a far-reaching new policy agenda that can transform economies and make women’s rights a reality.

Twenty years after the Beijing Conference, there is a strong and growing global consensus on the need to achieve gender equality. We have made significant strides towards this goal, but those achievements haven’t yet yielded equal outcomes for women and girls.

As the international community is poised to agree a new set of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is time to take stock, to acknowledge the progress that has been made, but also to focus on where we need to redouble our efforts, to achieve substantive equality and the realization of human rights for all women and girls.

It is clear: the global economy is not working for women. This report offers a new economic agenda, one firmly rooted in the human rights framework, and brings rights—the right of all women to a good job, with equal pay and safe working conditions; the right to an adequate pension; the right to healthcare, and water and sanitation—into economic policymaking.

Laws that establish women and men’s equal rights are an important basis for gender equality, but for women to enjoy their rights in practice, structural barriers and discriminatory social norms need to be addressed.



proportion of EU countries that outlaw sexual harassment in the workplace


proportion of women and management and higher professional positions in the EU who have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetimes

Paid work can be a foundation for women’s empowerment, but only when it is decent. Too often, women are trapped in low paid, poor quality jobs, with no social protection or support for unpaid care work.



The proportion of women’s employment that is informal and unprotected in developing regions


The average global gender pay gap


How much more time women spend on unpaid care and domestic work than men

The best way to realize women’s economic and social rights is through a comprehensive approach to social policy, combining universal access to services such as healthcare, with pensions and income support for families.



of the world’s population has partial or no social protection.
Women are over-represented in this group.

Without women’s unpaid care work, there would be no labour force and the global economy would grind to a halt. Yet the unpaid economy is rarely taken into account in economic policymaking


Value of time spent on unpaid care and domestic work, as a percentage of GDP






Republic of Korea


United Republic of Tanzania