UN Women

Canada hosts a joint conference with UN Women

Two women sitting in front of their sewing machine © UN Women
Woman merchant selling eggs and honey © UN Women
Two women put together a small motor © ACDI-CIDA/Nick Westover
Portrait of a Ghanaian woman raising pork in a farm © ACDI-CIDA/Roger LeMoyne

Women play a central role in sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

Women work in the traditional labour force and in the informal sector. They own their own businesses, produce food, manage natural resources, care for their family members, and are active in their communities. Yet, despite their high level of participation in all aspects of developing world economies, women still face significant challenges to equality ― in the home, the community, institutions and policies ― all of which undermine their economic security and rights. They also face gender discrimination based on cultural and social norms and beliefs.

Overcoming these challenges is essential to reducing poverty, achieving development goals, and creating a strong foundation for sustainable economic growth that will improve the lives of women, their families, and their wider communities.

We already have a wealth of knowledge about legislation, policies, strategies and practices that have had a positive impact on women's successful participation in the economy.

We need to put this knowledge into action globally to empower women farmers who are routinely denied the right to own the land they work, women workers who are paid less than their male counterparts, women in the informal sector who are unrecognized by decision makers, and women entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing financial services to grow their businesses.

From October 3 to 5, 2011, the Canadian International Development Agency and UN Women are hosting a joint conference to address these challenges in practical ways. The conference brings together leading practitioners, development thinkers, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and representatives of the private and public sectors. Together they will explore and identify concrete ways to support women's economic empowerment and strengthen their economic security and rights.