Linking Family-Friendly Policies to Women’s Economic Empowerment

This brief aims to present the ways in which governments and businesses can implement family-friendly policies (FFPs) as a means to enhance women’s economic empowerment (women’s economic empowerment). women’s economic empowerment goes beyond mere labour force participation, to signify movement towards a ‘double boon’ – which can be understood as a condition in which (a) women have access to decent, empowering work, and (b) unpaid care and ancillary work is redistributed such that women undertake no more than their fair share of the labour of reproducing society.1 FFPs can contribute to women’s economic empowerment in two ways: first, in furthering the decent work agenda of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to ensure that women and men are able to exercise agency and choice2 in the labour market; and second, that unpaid care work is recognized, reduced and redistributed.3 This ties in with ILO’s 1981 Convention on Workers with Family Responsibilities (no. 156), that made a case for FFPs that went beyond maternity provisions, to include paternity and parental leave – and thereby opened the door for these policies to recognize women’s unpaid care work and attempt to redistribute it to men and to the State. This brief also uses the language of ‘families’ to signify different types of families, thereby reflecting the lived realities of people in different familial settings across the world, rather than a heteronormative, nuclear family norm. The words ‘men’, ‘women’ and ‘primary carers’ are used, rather than ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’, to widen the discussion to beyond childcare.