Empowering women workers - resources

Some recent resources, reports and research


  • A Manual for Gender Audit Facilitators - the ILO Participatory Gender Audit Methodology 2nd Edition the ILO PGA is a tool that supports an organization’s commitment to gender equality by examining the extent to which equality is being institutionalized; helps to identify good practices in technical work; and points to effective and efficient ways of moving forward in mainstreaming gender in all work activities.

  • A Roadmap for Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment. The report identifies interventions that are proven, promising or have a high potential to increase productivity and earnings for different groups of women in diverse country contexts. Eighteen research studies were commissioned to help identify the most effective interventions to empower women economically across four categories of employment – entrepreneurship, farming, wage employment and young women’s employment. The research shows that programs must be targeted depending on particular economic and country contexts. Many of the programs identified are simple, cost effective and scalable, with the potential to benefit a significant number of women. UN Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation 2013

  • Gender in Occupational Safety and Health.  In the trade union movement, there is a major focus on gender based violence at work with the traditional narrative on safety, health and well-being widening in scope and becoming gender specific.  TUC 2017

  • GOSH Toolkit Although Eurocentric in terms of data & context, the above guide and checklist are useful documents with many of the trade union findings replicated in developing countries as well.  There is a list of Musculoskeletal Disorders, pregnancy, sexual harassment, discrimination and violence. TUC 2017


  • Improving Opportunities for Women in Smallholder-based Supply Chains Business case and practical guidance for international food companies A study to explore the business case for food companies to support women in smallholder-based supply chains, and to identify and develop good practice guidance about how companies can best deliver this support. This guide presents the results of this study in a practical, action-focused format. It sets out the business case for action; provides practical guidance about what food companies can do to encourage greater participation of, and support for, women in their smallholder-based supply chains; and presents over 40 good practice examples and seven in-depth case studies to illustrate and support this guidance. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2010


  • Homeworking in the UK: A Practical and Ethical Guide for Businesses - aimed at retailers who may have homeworkers in their UK supply chains, and companies who work directly with homeworkers here in the UK. The guide shows how a best practice approach to homeworking can help your business, as well as providing practical guidance on UK employment law as it relates to homeworkers. Homeworkers Worldwide.

  • Stop Gender Based Violence at work! Support an ILO Convention! A a toolkit for affiliates to use in their lobbying efforts with governments and employers’ associations. The November 2014 session of the ILO Governing Body will again discuss a proposal to include a standard setting item on “violence against women and men in the world of work” on the agenda of a future International Labour Conference. This item was last discussed at the March 2014 Governing Body and whilst there was strong support from some governments, the proposal was not supported by the employers. The Worker’s Group has consistently supported the proposal as a first priority. In order for the proposal to be accepted by the Governing Body (GB), more governments  need to be persuaded to  support it as a first priority, and to convince some national employers’ associations that are members of the GB to support the proposal. ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) 2014

  • Women Business and the Law is a database that covers legal constraints on women’s participation in the labour market 

  • ITUC is campaigning against gender based violence and has a number of resources and excellent information.

  • Break the Circle is the UNI workplace violence and sexual harassment campaign and has resources such as posters, stickers and videos

  • IUF has gender pages with campaign and resource materials, with articles on women's empowerment and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace

  • IndustriALL's women's pages for building strong unions.


  • Gender Equality Data and Statistics - Economic Structure Statistics relating to women's and men's employment, income etc presented as graphs and maps. World Bank
  • Gender at Work: A Companion to the World Development Report on Jobs A companion to the 2013 World Development Report on jobs, the report notes that since women face multiple constraints to jobs, starting early and extending throughout their lives, progressive, broad-based, and coordinated policy action is needed to close gender gaps. Common constraints include lack of mobility, time, and skills, exposure to violence, and the absence of basic legal rights.
  • Investing in Women’s Employment Good for business, good for development To better understand and capture the business case for women’s employment, IFC invited private sector companies from different regions and sectors to join WINvest (Investing in Women), a global World Bank Group partnership with the private sector launched in 2012. This report—Investing in Women´s Employment: Good for Business, Good for Development—is the first result of the WINvest initiative. It draws on members’ experiences and encourages business to tap and manage female talent in emerging and developing markets. The case studies provide examples of how leading companies have benefited by investing in policies that support women employees. Our hope is that this publication will help companies better understand the business case for supporting women’s employment, and provide insight into the approaches that work best. International Finance Corporation 2012
  • Mapping as Organising : How Mapping Is Being Used As An Homeworker Organizing Tool This paper explores homeworker mapping as a successful organising strategy by examining primary documents from homeworker organizations. Annie Delaney, Rosaria Burchielli, Donna Buttigieg. Federation of Homeworkers Worldwide 2007
  • Women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth: labour markets and enterprise development This review of existing research on women’s economic empowerment concludes that there is strong evidence that gender equality can promote economic growth. Women’s access to employment and education opportunities reduces the likelihood of household poverty, and resources in women’s hands have a range of positive outcomes for human capital and capabilities within the household. However, the converse relationship – that economic growth promotes gender equality – is less strong. IDRC 2012
  • Women Garment Workers in Tamil Nadu - Project Report - Part of the ‘Building Decent Workplaces for Women Garment Workers Project’ with Women Working Worldwide. Report on a project funded under the DfID RAGS scheme to improveme working conditions of women workers in the garments and textile sector, with a focus on those producing garments for UK retailers. Homeworkers Worldwide 2013
  • Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity The report, released ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child, distills vast data and hundreds of studies to shed new light on constraints facing women and girls worldwide, from epidemic levels of gender-based violence to biased laws and norms that prevent them from owning property, working, and making decisions about their own lives. It highlights promising reforms and interventions from around the world and lays out an urgent agenda for governments, civil society, development agencies, and other stakeholders. World Bank October 2014
  • Who Pays? How British Supermarkets are keeping women workers in poverty This report analyses women workers' experience of supermarket supply chains. ActionAid  2007


  • Closing the Gap  ActionAid's briefing highlights the massive injustice suffered by working women in developing countries and shows how the global economic system relies on women's paid and unpaid work.  In economic terms, ActionAid estimates the cost to women of inequalities in pay and access to jobs is a staggering US$9 trillion each year. The briefing calls on governments, international institutions and businesses to take action to create the conditions that are needed to give women in developing countries the chances that they deserve in and at work. Steps include ensuring that women can access safe, decent work opportunities and the essential caring work they do is recognised, shared and better supported. In 2015, the time is ripe for change as we determine the UN sustainable development goals and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. Let us ensure the achievement of women's economic equality is high on the agenda. The briefing marks the beginning of a longer term AAUK policy and advocacy initiative on women’s economic inequality. ActionAid 2015.
  • Standing firm against factory floor harassment  - preventing violence against women garment workers in Bangladesh and India. The Preventing Workplace Violence project is an innovative partnership between Indian and Bangladeshi garment factories, European clothing brands, governments, civil society organisations and trade unions in Europe and Asia. Together, they are piloting new ways to address and remedy the root causes of workplace violence. Fair Wear Foundation 2013
  • The business case for women's economic empowerment - an integreated approach  - The reserachers set out to create a better understanding of corporate-funded women’s economic empowerment programs – what works and what does not – and make the case for how such programs can increase benefits for both women and for companies. They found that corporations need to do more to address barriers that hinder women’s economic advancement. The majority of corporate-funded programs aim to build women's economic status by expanding employment opportunities, providing business training and making loans or credit more available. However, for a woman to be economically empowered, she needs more than skills and opportunities. The new report presents the study’s findings and includes an integrated framework that the private sector can adopt to increase return on investment and enhance women’s economic advancement.  International Center for Research on Women and Dalberg Global Development Advisors (commissioned by the Oak Foundation) 2014
  • The business of empowering women: Where, why, and how presents a case for why and how the private sector should intensify its engagement in the economic empowerment of women in developing countries. While many private sector organizations may see the economic empowerment of women as a worthy goal in itself, others also need a clear business case for investing in women. This research helps make that case, and offers a roadmap for companies to build a strategic investment portfolio in women’s issues. Mckinsey & Company 2010
  • Trading Away Our Rights: Women working in global supply chains Oxfam’s research with partners in 12 countries involved interviews with hundreds of women workers and many farm and factory managers, supply chain agents, retail and brand company staff, unions and government officials. It has revealed how retailers (supermarkets and department stores) and clothing brands are using their power in supply chains systematically to push many costs and risks of business on to producers, who in turn pass them on to working women. Oxfam GB 2004
  • The Global Economic Crisis and Gender Equality The 2007-2008 global financial crisis and subsequent austerity policies have put the realisation of women’s economic and social rights in jeopardy. The resulting job losses, decreased social services and increased economic insecurity have weakened the capacity of people to perform the unpaid care work that is so critical for human well-being and social development. This paper suggests that these three spheres—finance, production and unpaid care—are in fact interconnected and overlapping, and undertakes a feminist analysis to draw attention to their interconnections and to make visible what is often left out of mainstream accounts.
  • WIEGO working papers feature research that makes either an empirical or theoretical contribution to existing knowledge about the informal economy. Particular attention is paid to policy-relevant research. This series includes statistical profiles of informal employment and critical analysis of data collection and classification methods. Methodological issues and innovations, as well as suggestions for future research, are considered. All WIEGO Working Papers are peer reviewed by the WIEGO Research Team and/or external experts.
  • Women’s economic empowerment and inclusive growth: labour markets and enterprise development This review of existing research on women’s economic empowerment concludes that there is strong evidence that gender equality can promote economic growth. Women’s access to employment and education opportunities reduces the likelihood of household poverty, and resources in women’s hands have a range of positive outcomes for human capital and capabilities within the household. However, the converse relationship – that economic growth promotes gender equality – is less strong. IDRC 2012
  • Women Working in the Shadows: The informal economy and export processing zones provides basic information on the informal economy and export processing zones, in which the vulnerable work of women predominate, and looks at the development of women’s work in the context of globalisation and the prevailing gender order. Sudwind and Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Bavaria, 2010.

Please let us know if you know of other useful resources that could be added to this list.