UNIFEM Chimes In

Government plans need to reflect women’s realities as workers and shock absorbers of society to be truly effective

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) released an assessment report today, analyzing the impact of economic downturns and subsequent economic stimulus packages on the welfare of women. UNIFEM is urging governments to treat economic stimulus packages not as “quick-fixes”, but as an opportunity to reform economic policies to be more responsive to gender issues.

70% of the world’s poor are women. Women therefore represent the large majority of low-skill, migrant workers. Therefore they are often hardest hit by economic downturns. UNIFEM’s report noted that, “The credit squeeze could hurt microfinance lending in South Asia, which accounts for more than 50 percent of global demand for microfinance, with women being majority of the clients.”

According to the news release, key findings and recommendations include:

  • If seen as a development instruments and not just short-term response to the crisis, stimulus packages can make far-reaching changes in macroeconomic policy and expenditure frameworks to ensure that women’s contributions to economic recovery and future growth are fully harnessed, and gender outcomes are achieved.
  • New or increased spending on social protection schemes needs to be directed towards reaching women in the informal sector and supporting female migrant workers who have been displaced.
  • Stimulus measures aimed at firms should also target sectors where women make up a good proportion of the labour force, such as export manufacturing.
  • Social protection mechanisms could be linked to training and enterprise development, to ensure that social protection contributes to growth.

To learn more about UNIFEM’s Report, Making Economic Stimulus Packages Work for Women, please click here.