Women´s Issues After Beijing
Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Positions - Networks - Results
The Twelve Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform for Action: A Women´s Agenda for the Twenty-first Century
6 Women and the economy: practically
excluded from decision-making
It is true that women´s position in the economic field has improved since the Nairobi Conference in some respects.In general, however, the Platform states that women are everywhere virtually absent from or poorly represented in economic decision-making. This has an increasingly negative impact on women´s equal participation in the economy.
Increasing impediment and discrimination
Women are only marginally involved in economic decision-making. Equality does not exist in particular in the two central areas, ie policy-making and business-related institutions. This applies to the formulation of financial, monetary and commercial policies and also to fiscal and bargaining policies. Women are also practically non-existent in international economic policy-making. Everywhere the rules are made by men.
Rules are made by men
Women´s participation in remunerated work has increased substantially because a growing number of households depend on an additional income. However, the majority of women have been forced to accept poor legal and working conditions.
Women in demand as cheap labour
In many countries it is mainly women who work in part-time, home-based
or casual employment. Their pay is lower, they lack job security and their
occupational health and safety in the workplace is neglected. The combined
impact of economic pressure and discrimination have further aggravated
gender-specific exclusion. As a result, women are more willing to accept
work even with less pay and poorer working conditions. Their low skill
levels force them to take on monotonous and physically harmful work.
Social degradation is female
The Platform points out that more analysis needs to be done of the impact
of globalization on women´s economic position. However, it is a foregone
conclusion that women are the first victims of structural adjustments because
of their sex.
Discrimination results in overstress
Traditional prejudices continue to be an obstacle for women´s advancement, including the deeply-ingrained attitudinal distrust of men against women in management. Men do not regard women as their equals and women therefore have no access to positions of leadership. Frequently, sexual harassment also prevents women from making a contribution commensurate with their abilities. The lack of a family-friendly work environment creates further barriers: in many countries there is no affordable child care and inflexible work schedules deny women the mobility required for coping with their complex responsibilities.
Prejudice and distrust create barriers
Women contribute to development not only through their remunerated work. However, their work in the home and for the family is not valued in national accounts. The extensive invisibility of women´s work results in their contribution being greatly under-valued. This ignorance greatly limits the social recognition of the status of women.
Unremunerated work by women is invisible
"The full visibility of the type, extent and distribution of this unremunerated work" will improve the status of women in society and will also contribute to "a better sharing of responsibilities" between the sexes.
Strategies and actions to be taken
The six strategic objectives of the Platform are directed towards a reduction of discrimination in various settings. In all sections of the economy, steps must be taken to make visible discriminatory effects on women and to eliminate them through gender-sensitive policies. The Platform defines the areas to be covered:
Remove structures hostile to women
Women must participate to the same extent in the design of business-related
policies and institutions and accept responsibility in key positions. The
gender-specific effects of institutions, trade relations, the flows of
goods, services and money must become visible and be corrected in the spirit
of the Platform. All structural adjustment concepts must incorporate a
Report on Human Development 1995
The majority of women work more hours than men
Equal pay for women and men, a classical demand of social justice which
has not yet been met, must at last be implemented. All States must enact
legislation to guarantee the rights of equal pay, as formulated in 1951
in the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 100 as early as
forty-five years ago.
Equal pay for equal work
Material justice between the sexes is an indispensable condition "for
achieving a genuinely sustainable economic growth and sustainable development".
It is therefore not only a question of legal entitlements; Governments
promised to step up efforts to close the gap between women´s and
Improve the status of female occupations
Another fundamental condition for a humane economic order quoted by the Platform is the elimination of forced and child labour. All forms of child labour must be eliminated within a clearly defined time-frame. The Convention on the Rights of the Child should become part of the national body of law. Special attention must be paid to excessive demands made on girls for work in their household.
Eliminate forced labour
In all parts of the world, women need a guaranteed right to organize in trade unions. The Platform regards this as a suitable mechanism for improving poor working conditions and for eliminating wage inequality for women. The election of women as trade union officials should be promoted by Governments, trade unions and women´s organizations.
Women need trade union rights
Women must be protected from discrimination with respect to hiring, promotion and redundancy. Legal protection, including means of redress and access to justice, is also required for cases of sexual and racial harassment. Part-time, casual, temporary and home-based work requires appropriate protection of labour laws and must be covered by social security.
Enforceable rights for all women
Men and women should share family responsibilities. Traditional attitudes to the division of labour based on gender must be changed. The impact of social security legislation and taxation systems must be examined in respect of sharing of domestic responsibilities and reformed, when appropriate. Education programmes should raise awareness about a more equitable sharing of responsibilities.
Sharing family responsibilities
The encouragement and promotion of women, both in material and ideal terms, must be actively pursued in the interest of equality and equal participation in the economy.
Strengthening what encourages women - encouraging what strengthens women
The incentive role of the State as the employer must be used for the development of a policy of equal opportunities for women and men. In order to eliminate gender apartheid in the workplace, women should be encouraged to break away from traditional patterns of occupational choice and to seek employment in the scientific and technical professions as well. This requires vocational training, advice, retraining and counselling that are not limited to traditional employment areas. In turn, men must be encouraged to seek employment in the social field as well.
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | Net Edition mv&ola | Oktober 1997