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Gender & women’s rights

Equality and non-discrimination are core human rights concepts; everyone should be treated equally, no matter what their status. Notably, however, many human rights impacts stemming from business activities are ‘gendered’ in that they affect women and men, boys and girls, differently. Frequently, women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of negative social, economic, and environmental impacts while having less access to benefits such as job creation, supply contracts, or compensation, which may be generated by private sector development.

Negative gender stereotypes reinforce and perpetuate historical and structural patterns of discrimination, which undermine women’s ability to improve their socio-economic conditions. In 155 out of 173 economies, at least one gender-based legal restriction exists on women’s employment and entrepreneurship (World Bank). Globally, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn (UN Women). This has given rise to a ‘gender pay gap’ of 23% worldwide. One reason for this gap is occupational segregation. This can be vertical, whereby women and men tend towards different industries, and industries dominated by women typically earn less. It can also be horizontal, in that within those industries, women occupy positions of with lower salaries and less chance of promotion than men (Investing in Women’s Employment). Women are underrepresented in senior positions within both public and private sectors. For instance, women accounted for 33% of senior management positions in central government, despite making up 52% of all central government employees, in 2016. In the same year, only 4.8% of chief executive officer positions were held by women (OECD). On the contrary, women are overrepresented in agricultural, textile and garment industries, which are characterized as being low paid, insecure and unsafe (UN Women). Aside from employment, women are also sometimes excluded from having autonomy or power over land. In addition to loss of livelihood, they and their families may be displaced without having a say on securing alternative land or compensation (Human Rights Watch).

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What National Action Plans say on Gender & women’s rights