International Women’s Day 2019

Celebrating the contributions of EIIPs to a more gender-equitable future

News | 06 March 2019
When designed with women and men’s needs in mind, infrastructure works can be a powerful vehicle of employment generation, poverty reduction and inclusive development – and for reducing gender-based inequalities and advancing women’s empowerment.

Women’s presence in infrastructure works programmes has traditionally been and in many cases continues to be limited due to generic gender inequalities in access to opportunities, assets and resources, and in decision-making and workload. This is compounded by factors specific to the infrastructure sector, such as concerns about health and safety in the sector, as well as stereotypes relating to the appropriateness or capacity of women to carry out what is often considered “men’s work.” For women who do work in the sector, decent work deficits such the inadequate accommodation of lifecycle needs such as maternity protection, pay inequities, and harassment and violence at the worksite overshadow the promise of the sector.

However, when these challenges are overcome, infrastructure works can provide formal and decent work for women, often for the first time. Moreover, the output of such works – i.e. the infrastructures themselves – can reduce inequalities and advance women’s empowerment. By improving transport to and from workplaces, by facilitating access to productive inputs and markets for businesses, and by creating new indirect jobs in the infrastructures built, infrastructures such as roads or buildings can be of critical importance to women’s livelihoods. In addition, infrastructure can also help to reduce women’s unpaid household responsibilities by making tasks such as water or firewood collection or childcare easier through new facilities or through improved mobility.

Efforts to promote women’s participation are thus crucial not only to make decent work in infrastructure development a reality for all, but also for broader development gains.

The ILO ensures women can participate meaningfully in Employment-Intensive Investment (EII) projects and benefit from them through measures such as raising awareness in order to break stereotypes, providing technical skill-building and other support to bring female unskilled workers on board, involving women in senior technical and managerial roles in the projects, defining targets or quotas for women’s participation, making gender mainstreaming a contractual obligation, and various arrangements related to the organization of work and logistics such as the provision of child care facilities, separate bathroom facilities for men and women, or transport.

Read more about the efforts of ILO EII projects to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the newly published gender country briefs on Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Tanzania and Tunisia, or about the summary findings from 30 countries in the ILO EIIP’s working paper on the gender dimensions of EIIPs.

The Policy Brief “Building a gender-equitable future through employment intensive investment programmes” provides summary guidance on gender-responsive EIIPs, while the “Illustrated Guidelines for Gender-responsive Employment Intensive Investment Programmes” provide in-depth, practical advice on gender mainstreaming throughout the EIIP programme cycle.