Achieving women's economic empowerment and eliminating gender gaps at work is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Despite gains, substantive gaps remain in realizing women's equal participation in the labour force and economic decisions. Globally, only about one in two women takes part in employment for pay or profit, against three in four men—this means that about 700 million fewer women than men are employed in 2016 (1.27 billion versus about 2 billion men). In many parts of the world, women are more likely than men to become and remain unemployed, have fewer chances to participate in the labour force and often have to accept lower quality jobs. An important determinant of gender equalities at work is the unequal distribution of unpaid care and household work between women and men. Women undertake three times more unpaid work than men and spend about half as much time in paid work. At the local level, structural barriers including lack of adequate infrastructure and access to services and markets exacerbate gender gaps and prevent women from participating fully and equally in the economy.
The Inclusive and Equitable Local Development Programme (IELD) is a joint UNCDF, UNDP and UN Women initiative, The programme addresses structural impediments that prevent women from entering the labour market through local public and private investments, with a particular emphasis on unlocking domestic capital for women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. IELD uses a unique three-agency partnership to strategically approach delivery of the SDGs, using each agency’s niche and comparative advantage in programming on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
IELD works with local governments to build their capacities on gender-responsive economic policy and identify, together with local stakeholders, practical and innovative solutions. For example, if women have to spend hours fetching water, IELD works with local authorities to utilize their capital mandate and unlock fiscal transfers from central to local governments to invest in water infrastructure projects, which will allow women to utilize their time on productive employment.
At the same time, IELD engages with the private sector to expand economic opportunities for women. IELD identify and design a local pipeline of investable projects – women-led enterprises and gender-sensitive businesses, which are large enough to have a transformative impact on the livelihoods of the communities and create jobs for women and men. IELD works with these enterprises, invests in grant mechanisms to build their capacity, upgrades their business plans and financial sheets, and brings them up to standards for domestic commercial banking institutions. Concurrently, IELD builds the capacities of both women entrepreneurs and commercial banks, for the latter by helping them to adjust their risk mitigation policies and compliance measures.
Thus, by allowing women to have better access to services, infrastructure and markets that reduce their workload, increase work force participation and expand their businesses, this programme creates an enabling environment necessary for inclusive local economic development and equal participation of women in the economy.
IELD programme will be rolled out in the selected pilot countries as a next step. Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda are selected as pilots for year 2017. The programme is expected to be expanded to 5-10 countries during the five-year implementation period.
In countries such as Tanzania and Bangladesh, in collaboration with UN Women and UNDP, technical support will be provided to central and local governments, women entrepreneurs and domestic banks to design, implement, and sustain local public and private investments that directly contribute to enhancing women's economic empowerment at the local level. In order to do so, the programme is developing necessary tools and guidelines that will allow effective implementation of the programme objectives identified in the country frameworks. For example, a gender responsive Local Economic Assessment (LEA) tool is being developed that analyses and identifies the structural impediments and obstacles that prevent women from entering the labor market in the LDCs.