Women’s Economic Empowerment


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The unequal distribution of unpaid care work is holding back progress on women’s economic empowerment. The development community committed to address this issue in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 5.4. We generate data, evidence and policy guidance on 'what works' to recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work in developing countries.

OECD Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment

The Policy Dialogue generates cross-country comparable data and analysis on constraints imposed by unpaid care work on women to inform policy design and monitoring; and steers inclusive, evidence-based policy guidance to address women’s unpaid care domestic workload.

Our work focuses on four policy domains identified in SDG target 5.4:

  • public services: access to basic health services and education, etc.
  • infrastructure: energy, transport, water, etc.
  • social protection: cash transfers, maternity leave, etc.
  • shared responsibility within the household

The Policy Dialogue will build on the OECD’s extensive work and expertise on gender and development, including: the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), the Time Use Database and the tracking of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in support women’s economic empowerment.

Read the full concept note


Unpaid care work

Source: OECD (2014), Gender, Institutions and Development Database

Time spent on unpaid care work varies by gender and region


  • Women around the world spend, on average, more than twice as much time on unpaid care and domestic work than men
  • MENA and SA present the biggest gap between sexes
  • Social norms play an important role in the distribution of tasks in the household
  • Recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid domestic work leads to economic empowerment


More information on unpaid care work.

Policy approaches to unpaid care work

Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment: New Approaches to Unpaid Care Work in Developing Countries


Women’s unequal share of unpaid care work can prevent their full participation in the economies of developing countries; however, care needs are growing globally. How can governments and development partners meet the needs of families and communities, while ensuring that all citizens benefit from economic opportunities and fair remuneration? This report focuses on identifying what works to address unpaid care work and sheds light on how governments, donors in the private sector and civil society actors – among others – can design policies to support both those who need care and those who provide care. The report brings together existing knowledge of policy options for unpaid care work across regions, in four policy areas: infrastructure, social protection, public services and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household.

Read more


Further reading


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