Decent Work

 ACCRA, GHANA: Informal worker Juliana Brown Afari runs a fabric stand in Makola Market. Juliana is both a market vendor, a member of the Makola Market Traders Union, and the National Coordinator for the Informal Hawkers and Vendors Association of Ghana (IHVAG). IHVAG has 6,000 members who work in street and market trading; approximately two-thirds of the members are women. August 13, 2015 in Accra, Ghana. Photo taken August 13, 2015 in Accra, Ghana. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage). .FULLY RELEASED - CONSENT NUMBER: ACC038

Women’s participation in the paid workforce will not on its own be sufficient to advance gender equality and women’s rights.

Policies are needed that promote ‘decent work’ and improve the terms on which women engage with the labour market.

These policies should be appropriate for women who work in the informal sector, where work is unregulated, insecure and precarious.

GADN recommends that governments:

  • Promote and protect labour regulations ensuring decent work for women, including collective bargaining and freedom of association, and support the proposed ILO convention on gender-based violence in the world of work.

  • Set and enforce minimum wage levels sufficient for workers to attain their right to an adequate standard of living.

  • Ensure that employment regulations and social and legal protection are extended to cover workers in the informal economy, and throughout the supply chain.

  • Create more decent work for women, including investing in public sector jobs and funding targeted job-creation schemes.

Raising Resources


Achieving gender equality and women’s rights requires expenditure on public services such as care, but also on social protection schemes or programmes that, for example, support women in old age, prevent violence against women and girls, provide reproductive healthcare, or promote a change in social norms related to gender roles and stereotypes.

Raising the necessary resources should be promoted as a deliberate political decision, reflecting the priority given to women’s lives to achieve gender equality.

GADN recommends that governments:

  • Raise revenue through progressive taxation designed from a gender equality perspective, and by curbing tax dodging by wealthy individuals and corporations.

  • Evaluate spending, taxation and monetary policy for their effects on gender equality and women’s rights, and remedy if found to be detrimental.

  • Use countercyclical macroeconomic policies to reduce the risk and impact of economic shocks, which disproportionately hit women.

  • In negotiating trade and investment agreements, conduct ex ante and ex post gender impact assessments and ensure sufficient policy space is maintained for policies that protect and promote women’s rights.

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GADN works with:

Government Spending

 TORORO, UGANDA  - JULY 25: Head antenatal nurse Margie Harriet Egessa providing antenatal counseling and checkups for a group of pregnant women at Mukujju clinic. This clinic is supported by DSW. July 25, 2014 in Tororo, Uganda. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)..

Government spending on social protection, public services and infrastructure interact with women’s rights and gender equality, and can be a powerful tool when implemented in an integrated gender-responsive, transformative way.

Conversely, inadequate investment in public services and social protection will continue to harm women more than men, as women are the primary users of public services, and are also more likely than men to fill the gaps when these services are cut.

Mounting evidence suggests that austerity measures have a disproportionate negative impact on women and undermine gender equality. See: How social protection, public services and infrastructure impact women’s rights.

Many advocacy campaigns around economic policy and gender equality focus on the way in which resources are raised, but few consider how those resources should be spent.

GADN recommends that governments:

  • Use gender-responsive budgeting, involving women-led civil society organisations, to ensure sufficient resources are allocated to implement laws, policies and programmes promoting gender equality.

  • Ensure access to gender-transformative social protection for all women throughout their lives, without regard to employment or migration status. including the introduction of broad-based, non-contributory social protection.

  • Increase investment in social infrastructure, especially gender-transformative care services. This will provide decent work for women, reduce their unpaid care burden, and ensure better provision of care for the whole of society while improving the productivity of the workforce in the long run. Such investment is self-sustaining, creating employment – and particularly employment for women – that will generate future government revenue streams, so can be funded through deficit financing if necessary.

Corporate Accountability


Donors are increasingly turning to the private sector as a partner in the promotion of gender equality.

It is ever more evident that the private sector has social and environmental responsibilities, and there are some examples of corporations improving their practices in this respect. However, there are also many examples of corporate abuse, which must be acknowledged and dealt with if progress is to be made.

GADN recommends that governments:

  • Support the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on the development and implementation of a gender-responsive, legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights.

  • Develop gender-responsive national action plans to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, setting out the actions needed to ensure gender-responsive human rights due diligence throughout global supply chains.

  • Call for the end of investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms that undermine government capacity to regulate and protect against harmful practices of multinational corporations.

  • Ensure that all corporations pay a fair share of taxes in each country in which they operate and undertake gender equality, human rights and environmental impact assessments on the tax incentives they offer corporations.

  • Encourage corporate representatives to promote best practice in their own sector, including by refraining from using tax havens and reforming their tax strategies to pay a fair amount of tax in each country in which they operate.

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