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Changing gender norms for women's economic empowerment

Time (GMT +00) 15:30 17:00


Caroline Harper - Principal Research Fellow, Head of Programme, ODI


Rachel Marcus - Senior Research Fellow, ODI

Chidi King @ITUC - Director of Equality, International Trade Union Confederation

Meralyn Mungereza @MeralynM - Country Manager, Uganda, Technoserve (via VC)

Emanuela Pozzan @emanuela_pozzan - Senior Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination Specialist, International Labour Organization (via VC)


Discriminatory gender norms are widely recognised as a barrier to women’s economic empowerment, affecting their access to ‘decent work’ and their experiences within the workplace. They help explain why women's participation in the labour force has stagnated in some contexts and why women are frequently concentrated in relatively less lucrative sectors and occupations than men. Gender norms can also underpin harmful practices such as sexual harassment in the workplace.

Yet around the world gender norms are shifting – with economic change and programmes that support women in the workplace both playing a role. In some contexts, women are taking up occupations formerly seen as ‘men’s work’ and in others, responsibilities for care and domestic work are starting to shift. How far do examples like this represent sustainable change?

Drawing on the results of new research by the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women programme (GrOW) spanning fifty countries, this event co-hosted by ODI and IDRC explores how changing gender norms can lead to women's economic empowerment – for women around the world today and future generations.

The event is followed by a networking reception.


Caroline Harper heads the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Programme at ODI, which focuses on social development, gender and generations. She is an anthropologist with 20 years experience in research, qualitative and participatory research methods, research management, advisory work and training. Research interests are in chronic and inter-generational poverty, gender, childhood, exclusion and empowerment. Recent work includes social impacts of economic shocks; donor aid policies, poverty reduction strategies and child rights; social audits and national development plans; sexual violence and education; young people and vulnerability. She lived and worked for 10 Years in East Asia and has worked for NGOs, multi-and bi-laterals in East, Central and SE Asia and Africa.

Rachel Marcus is a Senior Research Fellow at the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion team at the Overseas Development Institute. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a social development researcher and practitioner, and is an expert in conducting rigorous evidence reviews, with a strong focus on gender, childhood, youth and adolescence and social inclusion more broadly and is co-leading the evidence synthesis workstream for the Gender and Adolescence Global Evidence programme. In recent years she has led evidence reviews on gender and youth livelihoods development; gender equality in education; communication strategies to promote gender equality; youth civic and political participation; and effective integration of anti-poverty and child protection programmes.

Chidi King is the Director of the Equality Department of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).  The ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates. Prior to joining the ITUC, Chidi worked as equality and rights officer at the Global Union Federation Public Services International (PSI) and as employment rights officer at the United Kingdom’s Trade Union Congress. Chidi’s background is as a lawyer and trade union activist, with a particular passion for equality, human rights and civil liberties issues. She has also worked in the field of race discrimination and as senior lawyer for the UK ‘whistleblowing’ charity Public Concern at Work.

Meralyn Mungereza currently works as the Country Manager at TechnoServe Inc. Uganda, where she has spent the past 8 years supporting over 15,000 entrepreneurial women, men, and youth to build their skills and increase their economic opportunities, thus improving their lives and their communities. She was recognised as the Employee of the Year in 2015, and was also one of 4 global recipients of the TechnoServe President’s Award for the year 2016. Meralyn holds a Master of Laws degree in Corporate Governance & Financial Regulation from the University of Warwick, UK.

Emanuela Pozzan is a Senior Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination Specialist at the International Labour Organization. She has more than 15 years of experience working in the Middle East, Africa and Asia on women’s and workers’ rights, non-discrimination, disability and labour migration. Her educational background includes a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and a Master of Science in Development Studies at SOAS with a focus on gender equality and forced migration. Her career included serving for the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NGOs, UNFPA and the ILO. For the ILO she has specifically worked for 9 years in the Middle East and 3 years in Asia and the Pacific. She has recently joined the Gender, Equality and Diversity team at the ILO HQ in the capacity of Senior Gender Equality and Non - Discrimination Specialist covering a portfolio of initiatives in the area of access to work for women, care economy, pay equity and violence and harassment in the world of work.

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