UNCTAD and UN Women to shed light on gender perspectives and 'care economy' in macroeconomics

23 February 2017

The UN's lead agencies in development policy advice and gender equality are joining forces in a $790,000 programme to put gender perspectives into the heart of effective macroeconomic policy.

UNCTAD and UN Women will combine their capacities to provide advice and a framework that incorporate the gender dimension in models of growth and development, and in particular the effects of the unpaid "care economy".

"While the macroeconomy is often perceived as 'gender-neutral', gender matters for macroeconomic structures and outcomes," UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Joakim Reiter said. "Different types of economic shocks or patterns of growth affect women and men differently."

For example, labour-intensive export oriented economies raise the relative demand for female labour, and austerity programs end up being disproportionately costly for mothers and children.

UN Women Deputy Director General Yannick Glemarec said: "Macroeconomic policies are crucial enablers of gender equality as they shape the overall environment for advancing women's economic empowerment. Conversely, the benefits of gender responsive economic policies, such as fairer societies and greater economic dynamism, accrue to everyone."

With a focus on the "care economy", the collaboration between UNCTAD and UN Women will result in five concrete outputs:

  1. Measures of the gender-inclusiveness of growth:

    These measures will capture the diversity of developing country experiences, while providing internationally comparable measures.

  2. Research and analysis to clarify the link between macroeconomic policies and gender-inclusive growth:

    The measures developed above will be linked with global conditions, macroeconomic structures and policy stances to better understand how national and international policies can make growth more gender-inclusive.

  3. Joint publication by UNCTAD and UN Women on gender and macroeconomics:

    This publication will share findings from the work above to raise awareness and understanding of the gender-effects of different macro-economic policies and their implications.

  4. High-Level Panel Event:

    An occasion to present the publication and its policy findings to policy-makers, academia and civil society.

  5. Joint technical and advisory services:

    UNCTAD and UN Women will roll-out a new training program for officials from developing countries, particularly from the finance and planning ministries.

UNCTAD brings strong technical and research expertise on inclusive growth as well as on the impact of macroeconomic policies on gendered employment and unemployment outcomes. UNCTAD has also conducted theoretical and empirical work on the effects the gender division of labour has in the economy.

UN Women has conducted research into gender issues within macroeconomic policies, which have been published in its Flagship report: Progress of the World's Women (2015-2016). UN Women also led the macroeconomic research group of the High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment, and is developing a Flagship Programme on the care economy.