Gender equality and sustainable development

 We're turning solar water heaters into business opportunities for women in Tajikistan

In comparison to other regions women in transition economies of Europe and CIS countries score relatively well in terms of human development indicators. However, they continue to face serious inequalities vis-à-vis men, particularly in terms of incomes and access to the labour market. In 2014, the region’s rankings in the UNDP Gender Development Index ranged from a high of eight (Armenia) to 118 (Turkey) out of 148 countries. The gender gap in life expectancy in the region favours women, with social and economic implications for women headed household and livelihoods of single older women.

The 2014 UNDP Human Development Report estimates that the gender gap in terms of incomes earned by women relative to men in most of the region is below global averages. While women’s labour force participation rates are significantly below those of men, these proportions compare favourably with global averages. Several countries, including Georgia, Kazakhstan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, lack laws that mandate equal remuneration for women and men for work of equal value. Glass ceilings prevent women from advancing in their careers. Across the region women are overrepresented in informal and part-time jobs. Women perform the bulk of unpaid and time-consuming care work. For instance in Turkey, women make up 72.1 percent of unpaid family workers but only 9.3 percent of high-level executives.

Throughout the region, women’s ownership of land is often restricted by gender-biased statutory, customary, and religious laws. In Kyrgyzstan only 13 percent of the total agricultural holdings are owned by women. Although there are no explicit legal restrictions limiting women’s access to formal credit in the region, in certain countries such as Albania it is still rare for women to develop businesses through access to financial credit. In Moldova, poverty prevents women from taking loans as they have insufficient collateral against which to secure credit.

In response to these challenges, guided by the global Gender Equality Strategy, UNDP works with national partners to:

  • Eliminate barriers to women’s economic empowerment and ensure equality in labour economy.
  • Transform gender norms limiting women’s earning opportunities.
  • Increase the gender responsiveness of social protection measures against unemployment, ill health, disability and of employment guarantee schemes.
  • Ensure that women and men can access, own and participate in the management of ecosystem goods and services, including climate finance.

Some of our recent results:

  • In Albania, Georgia, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, Turkey and Uzbekistan, women improved their vocational and entrepreneurial skills through training and mentoring, and in a number of countries set up their own companies and enterprises and started participating in the formal market.
  • In Tajikistan, women and men learned how to build solar water heating systems, providing access to affordable and clean energy.
  • In Moldova, through a UNDP-supported leasing mechanism, women-led businesses accessed finances to invest in biomass facilities for heating.
  • In Kazakhstan, the ‘Eco-Damu 2014-2024’ microcredit programme supports women-led enterprises.

* The references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

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