Modern technology makes traditional farming more productive—and lucrative—for women in Rwanda. Through their cell phones, they can now tap into a digital platform that links them to broader markets and has led to large advance contracts for crops. Photo: Alison Wright.

Modern technology makes traditional farming more productive—and lucrative—for women in Rwanda. Through their cell phones, they can now tap into a digital platform that links them to broader markets and has led to large advance contracts for crops. Photo: Alison Wright.

Claiming rightful roles in the economy

Economic empowerment

Women’s economic contributions can unlock the promise of the global goals. When all women can obtain decent paid work or become entrepreneurs, they improve their own well-being. They also take the world closer to ending poverty and hunger, attaining sustainable economic growth, making the most of innovation and reducing inequalities. Women globally are still paid and employed at lower rates than men. They assume an unfair and unrecognized share of unpaid care work at home. UN Women helps empower women to break these discriminatory barriers, and claim their rightful and equal roles in an inclusive economy.

UN Women’s work described below illustrates contributions especially to the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty, climate change, gender equality and decent work.

A Farmer being registered on the BuyFromWomen Platform. Photo: UN Women.

Farmers in Rwanda use the mobile platform “Buy from Women” to connect to the agricultural supply chain via text messages. Photo: UN Women.

Empowerment through innovation

Amid fields of maize in rural Rwanda, women cluster in a circle checking their cell phones. At their fingertips lies information that will determine the success of their crops—and their livelihoods. They consider weather and market updates to make crucial decisions, like when to plant and how much fertilizer to use.

The women are tapping into a digital, mobile-enabled “Buy from Women” platform debuted with UN Women’s support for two cooperatives of nearly 700 farmers. It is part of a global flagship programme on climate-resilient agriculture. By linking women to broader markets and improving the quality of production, use of the platform has led to large advance contracts for crops, including with reputable firms such as the Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation. Women farmers, who mostly never had access to opportunities like these before, are finding a sustainable exit from poverty.

UN Women works relentlessly to ensure that every girl and every woman can live a life in dignity and have access to opportunities, be they political or economic. To reduce poverty and inequality, few other ODA investments are more effective than making sure that over half the world’s population fully participates in the development of their societies.

Manuel Sager, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Teófila Díaz Jiménez. Photo: Voces Mesoamericanas/Acción con Pueblos Migrantes/Rodrigo Barraza.
Teófila Díaz Jiménez, from Chiapas, became a migrant women organizer after attending one of UN Women-supported trainings for poor migrant women across Mexico. Photo: Voces Mesoamericanas/Acción con Pueblos Migrantes/Rodrigo Barraza.

Protections for migrant women

In the Mexican state of Chiapas, poverty rates are high. People in the most dire straits include women who have migrated from other parts of Central America or other places within Mexico. Barely scraping by in occupations such as domestic labour, they are highly vulnerable to exploitation. Since knowledge of human rights can be one of the best shields against abuse, UN Women has worked with civil society organizations to hold dozens of training sessions for poor migrant women across Mexico. Women learn where they can find support and interact with local government officials to highlight the protective actions they need. The experience is empowering.

In

12

countries, gender equality advocates
influenced economic policies
and poverty reduction strategies

 

9

countries adopted
policy frameworks for
women’s economic empowerment

More than

311,000

practitioners accessed knowledge and
good practices at EmpowerWomen.org

Promoting procurement from women

After Kenya passed a law requiring 30 per cent of government procurement contracts go to businesses owned by women, youth and people with disabilities, UN Women led a push to connect women to a host of new opportunities. Public sector supply chains offer rich potential for businesses that sell a wide array of goods—from furniture to computers to uniforms.

Seven drivers to transform economies

Taking up an issue at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, the High-level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, convened by the UN Secretary-General, in 2017 called for transforming economies to work for women.

In the report Leave No One Behind, the panel tackled systemic constraints leading to persistent gaps in women’s economic opportunities. It mapped seven drivers to overcome these, along with recommendations for action. The drivers included tackling both the unequal share of unpaid care work and adverse cultural norms; better access to and ownership of assets; reforming discriminatory laws; improving practices in public sector procurement and hiring, as well as a change in corporate culture; and a stronger collective voice. 

UN Women participates in and supports the Panel, which is co-led by the President of Costa Rica and the CEO of IKEA Switzerland. Members include leading global experts on the economy and gender equality.

Edna Valdez, 58, was elected as the President of Bannuar Ti La Union, an organization that works for migrant women’s rights in the La Union province of Philippines, shortly after she joined as a member in 2000. Photo: UN Women/Norman Gorecho.

Photo: UN Women/Norman Gorecho

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth Edna Valdez, 58, was elected President of Bannuar Ti La Union, an organization that works for migrant women’s rights in the La Union province of Philippines, in 2000. Bannuar works closely with UN Women’s partner, Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), as part of a European Union-funded migration project, active in the Philippines, Mexico and Moldova. Ms. Valdez works at the Bannuar office in San Fernando City, where she answers walk-in queries from migrant women and refers them to relevant government agencies for support and services. She also conducts trainings about migrant workers’ rights, risks of illegal recruitment and trafficking, and access to services. Her work contributes towards SDG 8, which promotes productive employment and decent work for all, and its target on protecting labour rights and promoting safe and secure environments for all workers, in particular women migrant workers.

Edna Valdez: “Women need correct information about their rights and the risks, before they migrate”

“I went to Hong Kong as a domestic worker in 1996. I worked longer hours than my contract stipulated, I couldn’t take time off. When I complained, my employer said I could only get those benefits after two years. Into my third year of contract, when I could finally get benefits, they fired me because, they said, their child was becoming too close to me.

Shortly after I returned home to La Union province, I joined Bannuar Ti La Union (Heroes of La Union) and started working for migrant women’s rights.

The main challenge for women migrant workers is that they don’t know what rights they have. Even when there are laws and services in place, they don’t know how to claim their rights or access support. That’s why we continuously lobby the local government to set up Migrant Desks at municipal offices, in compliance with the national law, where migrants and their families can access information and support.

As part of Bannuar, I helped a woman who was promised a job as a domestic worker in Hong Kong. When she reached Hong Kong, she was stripped of her clothes and put inside a cargo box—like a chicken in a box with air holes—and trafficked to Lebanon for sex. Somehow, she managed to escape and the Embassy facilitated her return. She received counseling and livelihood trainings from Bannuar and was able to rebuild her life.

Women need correct information about their rights and the risks, before they migrate. The returnees, especially those who have been abused, need re-integration support to pick up the pieces, not only economic opportunities.”

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