Call to Action: Bringing Down Legal Barriers for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Equality is not only a human right, but also a key priority in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While data shows that closing the labour force participation gap would increase the Gross Domestic Product of countries globally, the report by the World Bank Group, Women, Business and the Law 2016, found that almost 90 per cent of 173 countries researched have at least one legal barrier restricting women’s economic empowerment, such as their ability to hold certain jobs, access finance, and own real property. These legal restrictions inhibit women’s ability to participate effectively in the labour sector and contribute fully to development. To achieve full and sustainable economic prosperity and other development outcomes, all actors need to develop and implement strategies and policies that foster women’s economic empowerment and encourage all individuals, women and men, to take responsibility to help drive change.

Business leaders identify the youth employment crisis as one of the most pressing global risks of our time, but also see investing in youth as one of the greatest potentials for business growth and development. There are more young people today than at any other time in history, approximately 1.8 billion, and half are women. These young people are breaking through stereotypes and creating innovative, concrete solutions to long-standing problems. Yet, although young people are creating these sustainable solutions, there is a disconnect with the formal labour force. Over the last year, youth unemployment rates have increased and the disparity in labour force participation between young women and men has widened. This webinar, co-hosted by the UN Global Compact, UN Women and Plan International, highlights the opportunity and need for business to scale up action and invest in the future workforce to create economic opportunities for young women around the world, produce bottom line impacts on business growth and sustainability, and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).