2.3.6. Resource 6: Markets


Gender inequality and the process of empowerment are dynamic and complex, as are the market systems in which women work. Global markets—both labor and trade—are intricate institutions shaped by social norms, discriminatory forces, and power inequalities. Ensuring that women can access better jobs and benefit from new labor market opportunities, and integrating gender considerations into macroeconomic policies and regulations, are crucial steps for achieving WEEGE and spurring economic growth.

The diverse resources in this section explore: how inclusive market systems can empower women and offer them economic independence and heightened bargaining power as entrepreneurs, employees, and decision-makers; the benefits of social protection programs, particularly for women working in the informal sector; the need for gender-responsive fiscal and procurement policies, as well as gender integration within trade and custom agencies; and the gendered impacts of infrastructure and access to basic services on women’s economic empowerment. Additional resources examine the linkages between economic growth and women’s economic empowerment, with recommendations and tools for creating gender-responsive macroeconomic policies. Finally, other resources focus on the critical importance of recognizing, reducing and redistributing the burden of unpaid care in order to enable women’s greater labor force participation.

Market Systems

Center for Strategic and International Studies—A Collective  Action Agenda for Women’s Economic Empowerment: Building Ecosystems to Empower Women Entrepreneurs and Women in Factories

This report maintains that creating an ecosystem that supports women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs requires multinational corporations and stakeholders to cooperate and share their data and methodology. At the same time, this account recognizes the challenges that competitive tendencies pose and proposes recommendations to address this challenge in support of women entrepreneurs.

USAID—Integrating Gender and Including Women in Value Chain Development: Training Facilitation Guide

This comprehensive training guide presents concrete recommendations and tools that development professionals can use to facilitate the effective integration of women into growing market systems and to support women in achieving empowerment. The training is expected to take about 1.5 to 2 days to deliver.

USAID—Women’s Economic Empowerment: Pushing the Frontiers of Inclusive Market Development

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are key considerations in making markets more inclusive. When a market system is inclusive, the structures within it facilitate women’s equal access to resources. It also enables women’s agency to acquire resources and influence the systems in which they live.

WEEGE in Trade Facilitation: The Role of Customs and Border Services

This report is a WEEGE assessment of cross-border trade, focusing on three areas: a) to what extent women’s economic empowerment and gender equality considerations are integrated into customs and border agency services, operations, and personnel management, across various functions; b) how WEEGE gaps in services affect women participating in trade; and c) how processes, procedures, infrastructure, and systems may need to change to achieve more equitable access, usage, and opportunities for women in trade. It presents findings and recommendations for integrating WEEGE within customs and border agencies drawing on a literature review and in-depth interviews with customs officials, women traders, and individuals working for supporting organizations.

W20—Argentina Towards Gender Smart Public Procurement

This document calls on the G20 leaders to extend new growth opportunities to women’s businesses by focusing on a five-point approach. Specifically, it urges leaders to: promote transparency, awareness-raising, and training of government officials and of women-owned and women-led companies (mostly small and medium enterprises); increase the percentage of public procurement contracts for women, by a minimum of 10 percent by 2025; and monitor progress, both annually and over time. 

Social Protection

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)—Extending Social Insurance to Informal Workers: A Gender Analysis

Researchers Rebecca Holmes and Lucy Scott apply a gender lens to examples of social insurance programs, examining to what extent gender gaps in coverage have been reduced and whether programs adequately address women informal workers’ needs. They ask four questions: 1) How do social insurance schemes cover different risks across the lifecycle? 2) How do insurance schemes take account of gender inequalities in the labor market? 3) How does an unequal division of labor affect access to, and benefits from, social insurance? 4) How are social insurance schemes affected by gender inequality, at the intra-household and wider society level?

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)—Informal Workers and The Future of Work: A Defense of Work-Related Social Protection

This paper responds to current debates on the future of social protections, at a time when the employment relationships on which many social protections have traditionally been based are increasingly non-existent, blurred or hidden. The authors argue that the presence of a large and growing informal economy, now and in the future, should not be used to justify ignoring the link between employment and social protection.

World Bank—Digital Transfers in the Time of COVID 19: Opportunities and Considerations for Women’s Inclusion and Empowerment

Women's economic empowerment will be essential for a global economic recovery. Given pre-existing gender gaps, there are concerns about exclusion of women from many of the social assistance programs already being rolled out around the world. Social protection systems that ignore gender inequality will likely fail to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 for women, and, at worst, could further exacerbate inequalities. Inclusive economic policies must be designed that empower women and create resilience, now and for the future. Four entities—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank Group, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and Women’s World Banking—developed this joint white paper on gender intentional digital cash transfers in the time of COVID-19, offering guidance and considerations for policymakers to support women’s inclusion and empowerment.

Fiscal Policies

IMF—Short-Changed: How the IMF’s Tax Policies are Failing Women

This report argues that the IMF—like other institutions—has failed to acknowledge that the macroeconomic and tax policy advice it gives to countries reflects and reinforces patriarchal power structures, entrenching, rather than transforming, gender inequality. Gender-responsive tax and expenditure policies should be at the heart of the IMF’s efforts to tackle gender inequality, but they currently are not. This briefing argues that the IMF must urgently analyze the differentiated impacts of its tax policy advice on men and women, particularly women living in poverty.

UN Women—Gender, Taxation, and Equality in Developing Countries: Issues and Policy Recommendations

This discussion paper examines the gendered effects of taxation and related fiscal policies, with particular focus on developing and emerging countries. The paper applies an analytical framework integrating three critical perspectives: the realities of women’s continuing economic, social, legal, and political inequalities; new global commitments to end poverty and all forms of sex discrimination; and the possibilities for shifting tax policy priorities from the present emphasis on taxing for economic growth to prioritize taxing for equality—including taxing for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and economic security over the life course.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)—Gender-Sensitive Fiscal Policies: Experience of ex-post and ex-ante Gender Budgets in Asia Pacific

This paper advances the gender budgeting literature by identifying the elements of equal power and equal voice intrinsic in gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) efforts, focusing on the Asia and Pacific region. Budget analysis through a gender lens cannot be isolated from overall fiscal policy and the broader gender development framework. The study focuses on four critical elements within GRB: mandatory earmarking in gender budgeting; homogeneous “one-size-fits-all” gender budgeting policies set at the national level; increasing presence of women in governance; and the advent of fiscal decentralization.

Infrastructure and Basic Services

International Development Research Center (IDRC)—Women’s Economic Empowerment and Public Infrastructure

This policy brief highlights the role of infrastructure in reducing the time burden of unpaid care and improving access to opportunities for women, through decent transportation and roads. The literature on infrastructure and women’s economic empowerment clearly indicates a positive connection between the two, with women benefitting significantly from access to basic infrastructure near their homes. Access to infrastructure can serve to reduce women’s time poverty by reducing the time spent on unpaid household and care tasks, therefore increasing the time available for paid opportunities and leisure.

World Bank Group, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program—Getting to Gender Equality in Energy Infrastructure: Lessons from Electricity Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Projects

This study seeks to establish a foundation for considering gender in electricity generation, transmission, and distribution projects. A central focus is the gendered impacts of such projects related to labor force participation and land use. The study also focuses on risk prevention and social sustainability, including the promotion of better health and educational outcomes. The study’s findings confirm some of the known gendered impacts of large-scale infrastructure investments—those linked to displacement, resettlement, loss of livelihoods, job creation, and land titling, among other issues. An accompanying toolkit and fieldwork guide can help project teams launch their own gender assessments, action plans, and monitoring and evaluation initiatives.

World Bank Group—Handbook for Gender-Inclusive Urban Planning and Design

Urban planning and design literally shape the environment around us—and that environment, in turn, shapes how we live, work, play, move, and rest. This handbook aims to illuminate the relationships between gender inequality, the built environment, and urban planning and design; and to lay out a menu of simple, practicable processes and best practices for urban planning and design projects that build more inclusive cities—for men and women, for those with disabilities, and for those who are marginalized and excluded.

Macroeconomic Growth

IDRC—Macroeconomics and Gender Recent Research on Economic Growth and Women’s Economic Empowerment

This paper provides a synthesis of the research commissioned by the Growth and Economic Opportunities (GrOW) program, a five-year program funded by UK’s the Department for International Development (DFID), Canada’s IDRC, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The synthesis focuses on research investigating the linkages between macroeconomic growth and women’s economic empowerment. In total, 30 studies were included in the synthesis, including: 11 cross-country analyses, seven on Africa, one on Europe, three on Latin America and the Caribbean, one on the Middle East and North Africa, six on South Asia, and one on Southeast Asia. The aim of this synthesis is to expand the knowledge base and distill key messages on the linkages between macroeconomic changes and women’s economic empowerment.

IMF—Women, Work, and Economic Growth: Leveling the Playing Field

This book brings together key research by IMF economists on issues related to gender and macroeconomics, namely: the macroeconomic gains from achieving gender equality, tackling gender inequality around the globe, and policies to level the playing field. In addition to providing policy prescriptions and case studies from IMF member countries, the authors examine the gender gap from an economic point of view.

UN Women—Gender and Economics Training Manual

The objective of this training manual is to strengthen the capacity of technical advisors and program staff on the importance of gender-responsive economic policy. The manual is designed to provide basic and intermediate level training to development practitioners, including governments and policy and program staff in international development agencies.

World Bank—Engendering Macroeconomic Theory and Policy

Over the last 20 years, macroeconomists have increasingly given attention to the role of gender in the macroeconomy and the implications of macro-level policies for gender equality. This paper reviews the salient findings of that literature. Research shows that gender gaps in education, health, unpaid labor, employment, and wages affect the macroeconomy, influencing the rate of per capita GDP growth. The effects are transmitted via both the supply side of the economy (principally through labor productivity) and the demand side (through business spending exports, saving, and the balance of payments). Theoretical perspectives influence which gender gaps are incorporated into models, as well as how.

Unpaid Care

W20 Argentina 2018—The Imperative of Addressing Care Needs for G20 Countries

This document outlines the position of a group of research and non-governmental organizations on care needs and care policies in the G20 countries. It summarizes why addressing care needs is fundamental for women’s economic empowerment and labor market participation, and it frames these policies in terms of protecting the right to care and to be cared for. It calls for more effort to recognize, reduce, redistribute, and represent unpaid care work and to protect the rights of paid care workers.

IDRC—Who Cares? Exploring Women’s Double Burden

This policy brief summarizes research undertaken by the GrOW program examining how the burden of care affects women’s employment and well-being, their children’s well-being, and the difference that affordable daycare can make. The brief explains that, as a result of unpaid care work, women hardly benefit from more hours of paid employment. The researchers posit that conventional measures of economic empowerment, which only focus on paid work, need to be re-examined.

Promundo and UN Women—Promoting Men’s Caregiving to Advance Gender Equality

This guidance note draws upon data and recommendations from Understanding Masculinities: Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) – Middle East and North Africa, focusing on the topic of accelerating men’s participation in unpaid care work. It provides action-oriented steps and guidance on how civil society partners and United Nations actors can design and adapt programming and influence a policy environment that promotes equality at work and at home. The recommendations put forward in this note are intended to serve as regional guidance and should be further contextualized and adapted for use at the national level.

UN High-Level Panel (UNHLP) Driver 3 Working Group Paper—Recognizing, Reducing, and Redistributing Unpaid Work and Care

This toolkit offers practical guidance for accelerating women’s economic empowerment in relation to unpaid and paid care work and provides examples of successful policies and approaches. This paper aims to identify policies and programs that guarantee both caregivers’ and care receivers’ rights, agency, autonomy and well-being. These policy recommendations strive to reduce drudgery in unpaid work, particularly in tasks that are labor-intensive household chores—such as fetching fuelwood and hauling water.

UN Women—Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment: Recognizing and Investing in the Economy

This paper aims to identify the policy and programmatic entry points and the key tools involved in transforming the care economy so as to promote gender equality, human development, and inclusive and sustainable growth. The proposed framework for action is organized around interventions targeting the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work. This paper lays out a detailed blueprint for assessment of the costs and expected returns arising from social care and time-saving physical infrastructure investments.