Economic gender justice

Photo: Sandra Mandic

The lack of economic gender justice is a major barrier to gender equality, as it prevents women from entering politics, escaping abusive relationships and influencing decisions that impact them.

As long as women do not have equal economic rights (including housing, land and property rights) and as long as access to the labour market, financial services and social protection remains unequal, women will not be free to decide over their own lives. They will struggle to engage in politics, will remain at greater risk of gender-based violence and exploitation, and will be less likely to assume leadership roles that would allow them to contribute to community-building and peacebuilding efforts.

Women’s economic situation today

In almost all countries around the world, women are at a severe economic disadvantage to men.

Much of this work carried out by women is unpaid work at home. Women tend to spend around 2.5 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men. They also spend much more time taking care of children and elderly relatives.

The global labor force participation rate for women is just over 50% compared to 80% for men. In some regions the gap is even bigger. Women are less likely to work in formal employment and have fewer opportunities for business expansion or career progression. 

When women do enter the labour market, they are often paid less, valued less and left with little protection from discrimination, harassment and abuse. Globally, the gender wage gap is estimated to be 23%, which means that women earn 77% of what men earn. Although, these figures understate the real extent of gender pay gaps, particularly in developing countries where informal self-employment is prevalent.

Unequal laws and institutions make matters even worse. In some countries, for example, women are not allowed to own land or inherit property.

As a result, many women across the world are economically dependent on others and live in poverty.

What is economic gender justice?

When we talk about economic gender justice, we talk about increasing women’s economic rights and opportunities to:

  • find decent, safe work that respects the environment and supports solidarity;
  • have guaranteed access to and control over capital, land and resources;
  • get recognition for their unpaid care work and share that burden with others;
  • participate and influence economic decision-making on all levels—personal, municipal, governmental, global.

Why is economic gender justice crucial?

It increases women’s power and agency, giving them the freedom to decide over their own lives, bodies and futures.

It also affects women’s political participation and influence in society. When women no longer struggle to meet basic needs, it is easier for them to get involved in civil society, enter politics and address strategic issues.

To have control over once own economy makes it easier for women to escape gender-based violence. Leaving an abusive relationship is much more complicated for a woman who is economically dependent on her partner.

Photo: Sandra Mandic

Upcycling and recycling used textiles

The recycling centre RETEX is a project run by our partner organisation Women’s Centre Uzice in Serbia.

RETEX upcycles and recycles used textiles, creating entirely new products such as bed linens, aprons, various decorative items and toys, and distributing them for sale throughout the country. They employ women from particularly vulnerable groups—including survivors of gender-based violence and women with disabilities.

RETEX also cooperates with Serbia’s National Employment Service, which provides some of the wages for their employees.

How The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation work to increase economic gender justice

Together with our partner organisations, we work for economic gender justice and women’s economic rights in more than 20 conflict-affected countries.

To increase women’s economic decision-making powers, Kvinna till Kvinna and partner organisations engage in advocacy towards for example the World Bank to strengthen their gender perspective and gender strategies.

To prepare women for the labour market, our partners inform women about their rights, support them in getting an education and provide leadership training.

Our partners also make it easier for women to work outside the home by lobbying for structural change such as childcare and tax reform. Traditional beliefs and social norms are also challenged by our partners, including the idea that women should stay at home and that childcare is their responsibility alone.

To support women who already have a job, our partners advocate for equal pay for equal work, social protection including childcare, better working conditions and equal opportunities for advancement and promotion.

Finally, they call on governments to change discriminatory laws that worsen women’s economic situation.



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