Macroeconomic policies and social protection

Macroeconomic and social policies are crucial instruments guiding the achievement of women’s empowerment and gender equality. Macroeconomic policies do not necessarily affect men and women in the same ways. Gender-blind policies can perpetuate limits on women’s ability to gain decent employment, for example. Given wide gaps between women and men in access to jobs and other economic assets, policies deliberately crafted to close these stand a far greater chance of improving women’s lives and advancing gender equality. Social protection policies play important roles in opening women’s access to labour markets, addressing economic risks faced by working families, and helping poor households meet basic needs.

Our solutions

UN Women works with government partners to devise and implement macroeconomic policies that can deliver results for women, touching on issues such as links between women’s paid work and inclusive growth, the impacts of economic crisis, and the role of gender in agriculture and trade policy. We provide analysis and data to inform more gender-responsive policies, and assist public officials and gender equality advocates in acquiring skills to design and implement them. By bringing together policymakers with feminist and progressive economists, we encourage the sharing of knowledge and new ideas.

In Albania, state family subsidies once went primarily to men because they were automatically considered the heads of households. UN Women helped the Government revise its Law on Economic Aid and Social Services to recognize economically vulnerable women. New groups eligible for grants include trafficked women, survivors of domestic violence and women filing for divorce.

UN Women joined the Food and Agriculture Organization in Côte d’Ivoire to advocate highlighting women’s priorities in the most recent National Agricultural Investment Plan. Initiatives to implement the plan now include one in the Indénié-Djuablin region, where women make up half the members of the programmes’ governing committee, and have a special allotment of the land provided under it.

In Rwanda, UN Women supported civil society groups in analysing the gender responsiveness of spending on agriculture, a sector where many women make their livelihoods. The data they collected informed advocacy that, from 2009 to 2011, encouraged a 26.3-per-cent jump in Rwanda’s agricultural budget. UN Women continues to work with the groups in monitoring gender-related expenditure of the new funds.

In Bolivia, UN Women backed an alliance of 12 women’s organizations seeking to integrate women’s rights provisions in laws and regulations. As a result of their advocacy, the national budget now formally recognizes unpaid care work, opening the door to the development of specific policies and allocation of resources to assist women struggling to manage multiple roles.

Globally, we support the UN Social Protection Floor initiative, which advocates universal access to basic services and social transfers of cash or goods to ensure income and food security. In 2011, The World Bank agreed to finance stronger social safety nets in Grenada through a system of cash transfers for poor households, including those headed by women. The agreement for the programme, funded by a zero-interest loan, drew directly on research undertaken by UN Women in partnership with UNICEF and the Bank.

Through the EDGE Initiative, UN Women is part of a new collaborative effort to generate internationally comparable indicators on health, education, employment, entrepreneurship and assets broken down by gender. The data will provide essential information in determining the extent of gender inequality and inform more targeted and efficient support for women’s empowerment.

Under the Gender Economic Policy Management Initiative, we partner with UNDP to provide short courses on gender and economics for policymakers, and support a masters’ degree in gender-aware economics.