Economies stalling due to the underutilisation of women


Around the world today, UN Women is launching its flagship Progress of the World’s Women Report, calling for significant changes to economic policy, to deliver equality for the world’s women.
The report Progress of the World’s Women: Transforming Economies, Realising Rights offers a comprehensive review on women’s rights around the world, and outlines policy priorities for governments to address in order to achieve social and economic equality.

• In a majority of countries, women’s wages are between 70-90% of men’s wages
• Only half of women are in the labour force compared to three quarters of men
• At the current rate of progress the gender pay gap will close in 75 years
• Women continue to face unacceptably high levels of violence and discrimination

The report recognises that the right mix of economic and social policies – working in tandem and developed with the participation of different social groups – can significantly reduce gender disparities and support strong economies and societies more broadly.

In the lead up to the Australian launch of the report hosted by PwC in Sydney, Executive Director of the National Committee for UN Women, Julie McKay stated, ”If the economy worked for women, their life choices would be unconstrained by societal norms, violence and gender stereotypes; women would be respected in paid and unpaid work and live free from violence and sexual harassment. The reality, in Australia and around the world, is that women are over-represented in low and unpaid work and continue to face extraordinarily high rates of violence and harassment in the home and in the workplace.”

Among its recommendations, the report calls for:

• Governments to develop workforce participation strategies to ensure more and better jobs for women
• Men to take a greater role in sharing unpaid care and domestic work
• The implementation of policies which reduce occupational segregation and gender pay gaps
• The development of policies to strengthen women’s income security throughout their lifetime, such as through addressing disparity in superannuation

“Women are the most underutilised resource our region has. In order to create and sustain thriving economies, and ensure that people have access to the benefits of economic growth, women must be afforded equality of opportunity and of access,” said Marcus Laithwaite, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, PwC.

UN Women is calling on governments to go further to ensure investment and support for social and economic equality and rights meet women’s needs. Governments need to ensure decent work for women, improve and uphold minimum wages, ensure flexible working conditions, and invest in macroeconomic policies that respond to women’s needs.

The Progress of the World’s Women report was funded in part by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government.