Garment workers supported by ActionAid campaigning for respect of labour laws in Bangladesh.

Women’s economic rights

What’s our position on economic inequality?

ActionAid is calling on governments, businesses and international institutions to create the necessary conditions to end this pervasive economic inequality and fulfill women’s economic rights. This means ensuring that all women can enjoy their right to decent work and that their unpaid care work is recognised, reduced and redistributed, including between households and the state.

Read our latest reports:


How the IMF’s tax policies are failing women

Towards Gender - Just Trade report

From rhetoric to rights

Towards a gender-just approach to trade

Stitching a better future

Stitching a better future

Is Vietnam’s boom in garment manufacturing good for women?


See all ActionAid’s policy reports

What are our findings on economic inequality?

  • 1

    Women in developing countries lose out on US$9 trillion a year due to unequal wages and the fact that women have less access than men to paid jobs.

  • 2

    Women work four more years than men, in their lifetimes, due to their disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care.

  • 3
    In poor countries, women in precarious forms of work are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than those in secure work.


Our recommendations on women’s economic empowerment

  1. Governments and corporate actors should guarantee women’s access to and enjoyment of decent work opportunities.
  2. Recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care responsibilities that fall disproportionately on women.
  3. Ensure that economic policies work for women, not against them, and end the pursuit of growth at any cost.

Progress on women’s economic empowerment

UN recognised effects of macro-economic policy on women’s economic empowerment

In 2016 ActionAid and others successfully argued for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel to recognise the effects of macro-economic policy on women’s economic empowerment, something it had failed to do up to that point. The final report of the panel in 2017 will reflect these issues.

Influenced recognition of importance of gender equality in delivering inclusive growth

Pressure from civil society organisations, including ActionAid, has helped shift the priorities of the International Monetary Fund to recognise the criticality of gender equality in delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.

Tackling women’s unfair burden of unpaid care

29-year-old Hajara Saleh from Nigeria used to have an immense amount of housework to do because, in addition to her immediate family, she had to cater for her parents-in-law.

Hajara said that she used to work so hard that she couldn’t always stand straight and was hospitalised a couple of times.

I did everything –  all the work!" she said. "Fetching water, cooking, washing clothes and going to buy and sell in the market," as well as caring for her three children.

But with support from ActionAid’s unpaid care work programme, her husband began to support her more with the household work. "After the Unpaid Care Work meetings," she explained, "my husband and I would sit and talk about it. He came to understand that it is a very serious issue."

Hajara Saleh successfully persuaded her husband to support her with household chores, after attending ActionAid's group meetings on unpaid care work, Nigeria

Femi Ipaye/ActionAid

Top image: Female garment workers supported by ActionAid campaigning for respect of labour laws in Bangladesh. Nicola Bailey/ActionAid

Page updated 27 September 2022