Empowering women fuels thriving societies, spurring productivity and growth. Yet, gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society; women continue to face violence and discrimination, they lack access to land, credit and decent work and are paid less for equal work. They are too often denied education and health care, and in political and economic decision-making, women are disproportionally under-represented.
A key thematic area for UN Women is women's economic empowerment. Working with a variety of partners, our programmes promote women's ability to secure decent jobs, accumulate assets, and influence institutions and public policies determining growth and development. One critical area of focus involves advocacy to measure women's unpaid care work, and to take actions so women and men can more readily combine it with paid employment.
In all our economic empowerment programmes, UN Women reaches out to women most in need, often by engaging with grassroots and civil society organizations. Particularly marginalized groups include rural women, domestic workers, some migrants and low-skilled women. Our aims are more and better jobs, higher incomes, better access to and control over resources and assets, and greater security, including protection from violence, for women.
UN Women Fund for Gender Equality: Launched in 2009 and supported by the Governments of Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland. The Fund complements the traditional programming of our country offices and is one of the largest global funds for women. Over two funding cycles, it has disbursed US$56.5 million in 96 grants in 72 countries over, serving as an agile, effective vehicle for fast-tracking commitments to gender equality. In its first funding cycle, over 23,000 women increased their income as a result of grantee programme interventions, which feature innovative and responsive approaches. In Pakistan, business skills of marginalized traditional artisans were sharpened, enabling them to break free of exploitative intermediaries who control access to raw materials and the market; In Peru, seed funding was provided for the municipality to set up a historic and sustainable compensation programme for women's unpaid care work; and in Uganda, supporting women to demand fair distribution of resources, resulting in the allocation of US$30 million for piped water supply systems in the rural northern part of the country, benefiting almost 8 million women.
The Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs): The WEPs, a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, were launched in 2010 to provide guidance to business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. Current research demonstrates that gender diversity helps businesses perform better, and that women's inclusion drives development, both of which can be achieved through intentional actions and deliberate policies.
The Women's Empowerment Principles seek to point the way to best practice by elaborating the gender dimension of corporate responsibility, the UN Global Compact, and business' role in sustainable development. To date, more than 600 business leaders from around the world have signed the CEO Statement of Support for the Principles. By signing the Statement, CEOs demonstrate leadership on gender equality and women's empowerment and encourage fellow business leaders to do the same. The CEO Statement of Support encourages business leaders to use the seven Women's Empowerment Principles as guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and communicate progress through the use of sex-disaggregated data and other benchmarks. Signers underscore that equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do;it is also good for business and needs to be a priority. As well as being a useful guide for business, the Principles seek to inform other stakeholders, including governments, in their engagement with business.