Across the Pacific, women face persistent barriers to economic participation. Women, compared to men, face challenges in landing formal and high-paying jobs as well as leadership and management positions. Women entrepreneurs  have difficulty formalizing their businesses and have less access to digital and financial tools compared to men. This video explains key pathways to women's economic empowerment in the Pacific. 

Transcript

Women-owned and led micro, small, and medium-sized businesses play a huge role in Pacific countries.

They offer pathways to women's economic empowerment and leadership.

But across the Pacific, women face persistent barriers to economic participation with lower levels of women in leadership and management positions than men.

Why do these barriers persist?

Women's formal employment is lower than that of men across the region.

From Solomon Islands, where approximately eight out of every ten women are in formal employment. To Samoa, where just one out of every ten women employed in the formal labor market.

Most women work in the informal economy in vulnerable and low paying jobs.

Over nine out of ten Pacific women-owned and led businesses are informal.

In Samoa, nearly all women owned businesses are informal.

Women have less access to and control over economic resources than men.

Many Pacific women have limited access to land, making it harder to access loans to start a business.

Women have much lower levels of access to finance.

Women-owned firms face 2.5 times more rejections when applying for loans than firms owned by men.

The burden of unpaid work is very unequal across the Pacific.

Women juggle family, church and community responsibilities, with less time to invest in economic activities.

For example, Fijian women spend three times more time or domestic and care work compared to men.

Access to affordable and quality childcare is a barrier across the Pacific.

Formal childcare services are limited.

In Fiji, only 8% of parents with preschool aged children use childcare services.

There is also a gender imbalance in decision-making in businesses.

Women hold only 21% of board seats, and a 13% of CEO positions.

Violence and harassment also hinders women's economic empowerment.

In the Marshall Islands, 27% of ever-partnered women reported that their partners either took their earnings
or refused to give them money.

In Fiji, one in five report having experienced sexual harassment at work.

What can we do to close the gender gap?

First, develop the unpaid and paid care provider economy and infrastructure.

Second, work with financial institutions to adjust processes to ensure access to finance is more gender inclusive.

Third, remove barriers and disincentives for women-owned businesses to formalize.

Fourth, promote legal recognition and social protection for informal workers.

Fifth, close the digital gender gap.

When women's earnings increase, they can afford health care, can pay for their children's school
fees, and are more likely to play a leadership role in their communities.

Closing persistent gender gaps and creating a stronger enabling environment will increase women's economic participation, and that benefits everyone.

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