Women Economic Empowerment & the Green Economy
WECF’s engages through its activities to increase women’s economic empowerment, in particular of women in low income rural and peri-urban areas
14.09.2011 | WICF Campaign
|Issues:||gender & rights|
|Duration:||09/2011 - 09/2014|
To support women’s economic empowerment WECF carries out training for women on income Worldwide, there exist great gender gaps in access to resources and income-generating opportunities, in decision-making positions at local and national levels and in access to education and human development.
A background information document on WECF's stand can be found here
According to the UNDP (2009), 70 percent of the people who live on less than a dollar per day are women. They work two thirds of the world’s working hours but receive only 10 percent of the world’s income and own only 1 percent of the world’s property.
Among working women and men, the former receive 32 percent less than men’s wages (in the same position) and, in some parts of the world, the gap is close to 40 percent. The 64th Session of the Economic Commission for Europe reported that the difference in earnings between women and men performing the same job ranges from less than 10 percent in some South-East European countries to over 40 percent in some countries of Central-Asia and the Caucasus.
This exclusion, based on ungrounded discriminatory social definitions of women and men´s roles, and reinforced vulnerable labour markets, affects not only women and their families, but also the economy. Moreover, the economic exclusion of women results in the loss of an untapped human resource, with immense agency, leadership and knowledge in the protection, management and recovery of the natural environment.
All of these inequalities tend to exclude women – and their families – from the short and long term benefits that the sustainable economic development towards a (green) economy can provide.
The lack of gender equality regarding economic opportunities and access to resources can exist due to several reasons. Gender is a social construct. Gender roles may vary, depending on socioeconomic, political, and/or cultural circumstances, as well as age, class, and/or ethnicity. Gender differences lead to the creation of varying identities between men and women, 'which are socially, culturally, and historically constructed'; in turn, these dissimilar identities leads to dissimilar 'goals, objectives, needs, and values'. Culture consists of ‘distinctive patterns of ideas, beliefs, and norms which characterise the way of life and relations of a society or group within a society’. Because culture, by definition, determines what is considered appropriate behaviour within a society, it may be the case within a given territory that women are unable to contribute to develop equally to men due to the current gender roles that are established within the local culture, whereas this might be different just across in the next valley or village.
It is essential to distinguish clearly between gender and sex. Gender refers to ‘socially constructed roles ascribed to women and men as opposed to biological and physical characteristics’, whereas sex refers to biological characteristics. Gender ideologies within a culture may impact who gets certain resources and participation in decision-making within all institutional spheres, including domestically in the household, within the market, or politics. The socially constructed nature of gender roles therefore means that in order to facilitate more equal contribution to development between both sexes, it is vital to change or modify the way in which gender roles are perceived. Because gender roles are fluid, this also means that there is room for to induce change in favour of more egalitarian societies.
WECF also is active to promote better policies and government programmes which strengthen women’s economic empowerment, and cooperates in the area with UNWOMEN in their programmes in preparation of the Rio+20 conference as well as with the trade unions and business partners, with a focus on women’s role in a ‘green economy’.
Women tend to be more dependent on an intact environment and access to natural resources in order to sustain basic livelihood needs. Environmental degradation, pollution and climate change impact the health of women and men differently in relation to their sex as well as to their gender roles. At the same time, women and men also impact the causes of environmental pollution and destruction and the extent thereof in varying methods. They also they have different strategies and approaches to mitigate the results of environmental degradation and environmental problems more broadly. Men and women have differing needs, interests, aspirations, and capacities, which can and should be addressed as a vital aspect of sustainable development.
Climate change effects vary among regions, generations, age, classes, income groups, occupations and gender. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the poor, primarily but by no means exclusively in developing countries, will be disproportionately affected. Their reliance on local ecological resources, together with existing stresses on health and well-being and limited financial, institutional and human resources leave them most vulnerable and least able to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Gender differences in social and economic roles and responsibilities exacerbate vulnerability. Worldwide, women have less access than men to resources that would enhance their capacity to adapt to climate change, including land, credit, agricultural inputs, decision-making bodies, technology and training services. For the vast majority of women working in the informal sector and in small enterprises, lacking capital and access to credit and information, recovering from the devastating effects of environmental disasters is nearly impossible
Women are untapped agents of change and important actors in implementing adaptation measures. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize women’s adaptation efforts and experiences, and support their access to ‘green’ jobs in adaptation in order to ensure that they are actively included in climate change discussions and that they remain in the path towards economic empowerment, especially as poor women are prone to being affected by climate change due to pre-existent conditions of exclusion and inequality. At the same time, they present high levels of resilience and are powerful agents of change in local and global efforts to mitigate climate change.
International poverty elimination and gender policies: MDG3
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were officially created in 2000 when the state leaders at the Millennium Summit adopted the United Nations (UN) Millennium Declaration. The UN Millennium Declaration has been signed by all of the UN member states. In total 192 member states as well as twenty-three international organisations currently claim to be working to achieve the eight goals by 2015.
The overall goal of the MDGs is to obtain a global elimination of (extreme) poverty. They are unique in their comprehensive nature, as well as the systematic attempts to implement and monitor the goals. The MDGs were based on various international development aims, but offered a comprehensive set of targets to be reached. The MDGs aim to increase development via improvement of social and economic conditions. The third Millennium Development Goal (MDG3) is focused promoting gender equality and empowering women. The target of this goal is to ‘Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015’, and the indicators are:
1. Ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
2. Ratio of literate women to men, 15-24 years old
3. Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
4. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament
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