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HTTP://WWW.UNFPA.ORG/GENDER/EMPOWERMENT.

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GENDER EQUALITY
Empowering Women
Despite many international agreements affirming their human rights, women are still much more likely than men to be
poor and illiterate. They usually have less access than men to medical care, property ownership, credit, training and
employment. They are far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic
violence.
The ability of women to control their own fertility is absolutely fundamental to womens empowerment and equality. When
a woman can plan her family, she can plan the rest of her life. When she is healthy, she can be more productive. And when
her reproductive rightsincluding the right to decide the number, timing and spacing of her children, and to make
decisions regarding reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violenceare promoted and protected, she has
freedom to participate more fully and equally in society.
Understanding gender equality and women's empowerment
Gender equality implies a society in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, outcomes, rights and obligations in all spheres of
life. Equality between men and women exists when both sexes are able to share equally in the distribution of power and influence; have equal
opportunities forfinancial independence through work or through setting up businesses; enjoy equal access to education and the opportunity
to develop personal ambitions. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is theempowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and
redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives. Women's empowerment is vital to sustainable
development and the realization of human rights for all.
Where womens status is low, family size tends to be large, which makes it more difficult for families to thrive.Population
and development and reproductive health programmes are more effective when they address the educational
opportunities, status and empowerment of women. When women are empowered, whole families benefit, and these
benefits often have ripple effects to future generations.
The roles that men and women play in society are not biologically determined -- they are socially determined, changing
and changeable. Although they may be justified as being required by culture or religion, these roles vary widely by locality
and change over time. UNFPA has found that applying culturally sensitive approachescan be key to advancing womens
rights while respecting different forms of social organization.
Addressing womens issues also requires recognizing that women are a diverse group, in the roles they play as well as in
characteristics such as age, social status, urban or rural orientation and educational attainment. Although women may
have many interests in common, the fabric of their lives and the choices available to them may vary widely. UNFPA seeks
to identify groups of women who are most marginalized and vulnerable (women refugees, for example, or those who are
heads of households or living in extreme poverty), so that interventions address their specific needs and concerns. This
task is related to the critical need for sex-disaggregated data, and UNFPA helps countries build capacity in this area.
Key issues and linkages
Reproductive health: Women, for both physiological and social reasons, are more vulnerable than men to
reproductive health problems. Reproductive health problems, including maternal mortality and morbidity,
represent a major but preventable -- cause of death and disability for women in developing countries. Failure to
provide information, services and conditions to help women protect their reproduction health therefore
constitutes gender-based discrimination and a violation of womens rights to health and life.

Stewardship of natural resources: Women in developing nations are usually in charge of securing water, food and
fuel and of overseeing family health and diet. Therefore, they tend to put into immediate practice whatever they
learn about nutrition and preserving the environment and natural resources.

Economic empowerment: More women than men live in poverty. Economic disparities persist partly because
much of the unpaid work within families and communities falls on the shoulders of women and because they face
discrimination in the economic sphere.

Educational empowerment: About two thirds of the illiterate adults in the world are female. Higher levels of
women's education are strongly associated with both lower infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as with
higher levels of education and economic opportunity for their children.

Political empowerment: Social and legal institutions still do not guarantee women equality in basic legal and
human rights, in access to or control of land or other resources, in employment and earning, and social and
political participation. Laws against domestic violence are often not enforced on behalf of women.


Empowerment throughout the life cycle: Reproductive health is a lifetime concern for both women and men, from
infancy to old age. UNFPA supports programming tailored to the different challenges they face at different times
in life.
Experience has shown that addressing gender equality and womens empowerment requires strategic interventions at all
levels of programming and policy-making.
The Women's Empowerment Principles offer guidance to companies on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and
community. They are the result of a collaboration between the the United Nations Global Compact and the United Nations Entity for Gender
Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and are adapted from the Calvert Women's Princples. The development of the
Women's Empowerment Principles included an international multi-stakeholder consultation process, which began in March 2009 and
culminated in a launch on International Womens Day in March 2010.
Subtitled Equality Means Business, the Principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and
women's empowerment and are informed by actual business practicesand input gathered from across the globe. The Women's
Empowerment Principles seek to point the way toward best practice by elaborating the gender dimension of corporate responsibility, the UN
Global Compact, and business' role in sustainable development. As well as being a useful guide for business, the Principles seek to inform
other stakeholders, including governments, regarding their engagement with business.
In an effort to bolster high-level corporate leadership for gender equality, in June 2010, the UN Women/UN Global Compact WEPs
partnership launched a CEO Statement of Support for the Womens Empowerment Principles. By signing the Statement, CEOs
demonstrate leadership on gender equality and womens empowerment and encourage fellow business leaders to do the same.
The 7 Principles
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2. Treat all women and men fairly at work respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality
For more information and to endorse the initiative, please visit the Womens Empowerment Principles website
Womens Empowerment Principles
Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve
internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and
communities.
The private sector is a key partner in efforts to advance gender equality and empower women. Current research
demonstrating that gender diversity helps businesses perform better signals that self-interest and common interest can
come together. Yet, ensuring the inclusion of womens talents, skills and energiesfrom executive offices to the factory
floor and the supply chainrequires intentional actions and deliberate policies.
The Womens Empowerment Principles offer practical guidance to business and the private sector on how to empower women
in the workplace, marketplace and community. Developed through a partnership between UN Women and the United Nations
Global Compact, the Principles are designed to support companies in reviewing existing policies and practicesor
establishing new onesto realize womens empowerment.
In brief, the Principles are:
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2. Treat all women and men fairly at workrespect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality
Read the full version
Subtitled Equality Means Business, the Principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender
equality and womens empowerment and are informed by real-life business practices and input gathered from across the
globe. They also reflect the interests of governments and civil society and serve to support interactions among stakeholders,
as achieving gender equality requires the participation of all actors at all levels.
Introduced on International Womens Day 2010, the Womens Empowerment Principles are adapted from the Calvert
Womens Principles. The Calvert Womens Principles were originally developed in partnership with UNIFEM (now UN
Women) and launched in 2004 as the first global corporate code of conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing
and investing in women worldwide.

Women's Empowerment
UNDP focuses on gender equality and womens empowerment not only as human rights, but also because they are a pathway to
achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.