Europe and Central Asia: Gender stereotypes, legal barriers still preventing women from reaching full economic potential

Mar 8, 2017

On International Women’s Day, UNDP launches a campaign to combat gender stereotypes in the workplace.

Istanbul, 8 March 2017 – With less than one third of businesses in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region owned or co-owned by women, urgent action needs to be taken to address gender inequalities in the labour market.

To continue development, countries must legally allow women to work in all sectors and own businesses, support women’s employment and entrepreneurship, and combat gender stereotypes, according to UNDP’s most recent Regional Human Development Report.

“You just can’t have economic growth if women are left behind,” said Bharati Sadasivam, an Istanbul-based UNDP gender expert. “With many economies in the region facing slowdowns, it’s time to channel women’s untapped economic potential to accelerate sustainable development,” she added.

While Eastern Europe and Central Asia is faring better than many parts of the developing world in terms of gender equality, disparities between men and women today pose a significant threat to the region’s development.

Most countries register a 10 to 20 percentage point difference between men’s and women’s labour force participation rates, which is significantly higher than in developed countries.

Women continue to face more challenges than men in getting a job or accessing credit and technology to open a business and are still receiving less pay for the same job. Moreover, more women find themselves in less secure and less rewarded jobs and are under-represented as employers.

In addition, unpaid domestic work and child care continue to limit women’s economic prospects, since they still do much more of it than men.

The persistence of gender stereotypes and traditional attitudes continue to hamper women’s rights in both the public and the private spheres.

UNDP today unveiled a new video series “8 Women” to break down stereotypes in the workplace, showcasing women’s exceptional talents in fields ranging from wine-making to electrical engineering. Stories from Albania, Georgia, Kosovo*, Moldova, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine are meant to serve as a powerful reminder of the need to continue the fight for gender equality.

The internationally-agreed Agenda 2030, charting the way to prosperity and peace while protecting the planet, highlights the centrality of gender equality for development through a large number of specific targets across the 17 Global Goals.

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Nicolas Douillet,

UNDP Around the world

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