Call for economic empowerment of women

Kathmandu, March 8

Workforce participation and economic empowerment is a powerful tool for women to achieve greater control of their health and wellbeing, said the World Health Organisation on the occasion of International Women’s day.

“Women that work and are economically empowered tend to be better placed to make critical life choices, including on reproduction. They are also more likely to be able to seek out and access health care for themselves and their families. As women across the region gain more opportunities in the workforce, there are a number of health-related concerns that demand attention, the resolution of which can further women’s empowerment,” read a press release issued by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, which includes Nepal.

According to her, this includes enhancing protection for migrant workers. Foreign employment is often insecure, particularly in the informal and domestic help sectors. This can leave women vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

Action across countries and sectors is needed to enhance worker protections and make the migration process healthier and more attuned to women’s needs.

“It also includes making workplaces more attentive to women’s reproductive health needs. Legislation across the region regarding maternity leave remains inadequate, while workplaces continue to penalise women that take time off to have children. Better legislation on maternity leave and women’s rights at work is needed region-wide, including more supportive and flexible work arrangements,” she added.

In the South-East Asia region, progress towards gender equality and empowerment of girls and women is being made. Primary school enrolment rates are increasing. Maternal and child mortality is being reduced. Economic participation and empowerment is being strengthened by the day.