Gender and development

Gender equality is considered a critical element in achieving Decent Work for All Women and Men, in order to effect social and institutional change that leads to sustainable development with equity and growth. Gender equality refers to equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities that all persons should enjoy, regardless of whether one is born male or female.

In the context of the world of work, equality between women and men includes the following elements:

  1. Equality of opportunity and treatment in employment
  2. Equal remuneration for work of equal value
  3. Equal access to safe and healthy working environments and to social security
  4. Equality in association and collective bargaining
  5. Equality in obtaining meaningful career development
  6. A balance between work and home life that is fair to both women and men
  7. Equal participation in decision-making at all levels
Given that women are usually in a disadvantaged position in the workplace compared to men, promotion of gender equality implies explicit attention to women’s needs and perspectives. At the same time, there are also significant negative effects of unequal power relations and expectations on men and boys due to stereotyping about what it means to be a male. Instead, both women and men, and boys and girls, should be free to develop their abilities and make choices – without limitations set by rigid gender roles and prejudices – based on personal interests and capacities.

The ILO has adopted an integrated approach to gender equality and decent work. This means working to enhance equal employment opportunities through measures that also aim to improve women’s access to education, skills training and healthcare – while taking women’s role in the care economy adequately into account. Examples of these include implementing measures to help workers balance work and family responsibilities, and providing workplace incentives for the provision of childcare and parental leave.


  1. Indigenous women entrepreneurs in Papua GET Ahead

    With their traditionally low status in society, indigenous women in Papua are the most affected by poverty and underdevelopment. Gita F. Lingga, Communications Officer in the ILO Office in Jakarta, reports about a recent ILO project which trained hundreds of indigenous Papuans, mostly women, in basic entrepreneurship skills.

  1. Gender dimensions of agricultural and rural employment: Differentiated pathways out of poverty

    January 21, 2011

    This interagency report, produced by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Office (ILO), is the first comprehensive look at gender and work in rural areas since the start of the global economic crisis.