Gender equality and the empowerment of women and youth

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The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing gender inequalities and threatens to reverse recent gains made in closing the gender wage gap and the participation of women in manufacturing. Furthermore, young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions caused by the pandemic and many are now at risk of being left behind in education, training, economic opportunities, and health and wellbeing. Recovering from the crisis therefore requires that the knowledge, experience and great untapped potential of women and youth be placed front and center of global economic plans to assure an inclusive recovery and a sustainable future.

UNIDO invests in the economic empowerment of women and youth in sustainable industries and focuses on promoting future socio-economic inclusivity and resilience throughout its technical cooperation portfolio. In the context of the socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, support for branches of manufacturing that employ women and youth; entrepreneurship development and vocational training targeting women and youth; integration and support of female- and youth-led businesses in value chains; as well as bridging the technology gap between men and women, will be critical. UNIDO stands prepared to support its Member States in order to ensure an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that takes into account the specific needs and contributions of women and youth as active members of the economic sector.

Research & articles

  • G7 Summit: time to put women front and centre of the global economic recovery
    G7 Summit: time to put women front and centre of the global economic recovery

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  • Women in industry – why we need more gender-sensitive statistics
    Women in industry – why we need more gender-sensitive statistics

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    Women in cleantech are key levers for an inclusive recovery

    How removing barriers for women entrepreneurs in the cleantech sector can ensure a green and inclusive recovery from the pandemic.

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    Industries post-COVID-19: A gender-responsive approach to global economic recovery

    Women’s specific needs and potential as leaders and agents of change must be considered for COVID-19 mitigation and recovery measures.

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Related documents

Examples of activities

The new era of industrialization marked by Industry 4.0, digitalization and innovation has been gaining momentum, entailing a range of potential benefits, as well as challenges to be addressed in the area of women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and leadership worldwide. UNIDO, jointly with the Government of the Russian Federation, has, since 2018 been implementing a project aiming to encourage support and upscale the advancement of the women’s agenda in the region of Europe and Central Asia, as well as globally. The project’s overall aim is to capitalize on and vastly promote UNIDO’s networking and knowledge platforms, expertise, methodology and service packages fostering women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and leadership in diverse formats, including through sharing knowledge and expertise, forging partnerships and networking and developing competencies and capacity building.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

Jordan’s private sector is expected to be the primary engine for growth, job creation, economic inclusion and poverty alleviation, and in this regard, developing the ability of the Jordanian economy to attract investments and to increase its exports is particularly important. Therefore, UNIDO is working with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply on a project that aims to increase Jordan’s private-sector contribution to job creation by supporting the development of competitive small- and medium-sized enterprises. Through the project, UNIDO will work with Jordanian counterparts to enhance investment and market opportunities in four selected value-chain rivers of job creation for youth and women in both urban and rural regions.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

The MENA region exhibits the world's highest unemployment rate, with youth unemployment at approximately 25% and women unemployment of up to 40%. In international comparison, women entrepreneurship in the MENA region is extremely low - only approximately 12% of formal SMEs in the MENA region are female owned. This low participation of women in entrepreneurial activity of the region can be explained largely by difficulties in accessing business support services and networks, by the very limited access to finance to start new businesses, the lack of education and training opportunities and by gender related constraints lying in the regulatory and legal framework. This UNIDO project takes a holistic approach in addressing the above-mentioned challenges and aims to harness the great potential of women entrepreneurship in the MENA region and thus create the conditions for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

UNIDO, together with UN WOMEN, is implementing a project in Cambodia, Peru, Senegal and South Africa whose purpose is to advise policy-makers and practitioners on the establishment and implementation of a policy framework to integrate gender and green industrial policies. The core aim is to affect change and empower more women to take leadership roles in green industries and entrepreneurs or industrial professionals, through strengthened integration of gender and green industry policies. The project has identified three main outcomes: (a) Countries are enabled to formulate new, or reformulate existing, gender-responsive green industrial policies and adopt them; (b) Individual and institutional capacities for policy formulation and implementation are strengthened at national and global level; and c) knowledge base on gender and green industrial policies is improved and outreach actions are initiated.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.


  • 4 November 2021: Vienna Discussion Forum 2021 - Cyber Equality and Digital Inclusion
  • 14 October 2021: UNIDO’s contribution to the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum.
  • 5 July 2021: Online Workshop on “Opportunities for Youth’s Economic Inclusion in the Agriculture and Agribusiness sector in Africa”
  • June 2021: UNIDO at the European Development Days
  • March 2021: CSW65 Side Event: Women’s Leadership for Climate-Neutral and Circular Industries
  • November 2020: 2nd Annual Vienna Discussion Forum
  • July 2020: Women in Industry and Innovation
  • VDF

    Together with the Permanent Missions of Finland, Norway and Sweden, UNIDO and UNODC hosted the 2021 Vienna Discussion Forum on the topic “Cyber equality and digital inclusion”. The 2021 edition of the Forum focused on the importance of gender-responsive digitalization to ensure that inequalities are not reinforced in the process of technological development and digital transformation.

    For more information on the event and its outcomes, please consult the dedicated UNODC webpage here.

  • Eurasian

    Within the framework of the third Eurasian women’s forum, under the general theme “Emerging opportunities for women in the digital age”, UNIDO organized a series of webinars and an on-site panel discussion focused on women in post-COVID-19 recovery; women-led SMEs and start-ups; women in the attainment of SDG9; women in research, development and innovation; the gender digital divide; and women in modern creative industries. More information on the webinar series can be found here and the following news story highlights some of the key outcomes of the panel discussion.

  • 1

    Online workshop organized by UNIDO in partnership with Youth20, the G20’s official youth engagement group, to further youth economic inclusion in the agribusiness sector “Opportunities for Youth’s Economic Inclusion in the Agriculture and Agribusiness sector in Africa”.

    More information here and video recording here.

  • Find out more about UNIDO's involvement at the European Development Days - “Can the future of skills be green and gender-inclusive? How the public and private sectors are teaming up to empower young female champions in technical and vocational trades in Africa” here.

  • 2

    Find out more about the CSW65 Side Event: Women’s Leadership for Climate-Neutral and Circular Industries here.

  • 1Find out more about the 2nd Annual Vienna Discussion Forum - “The future is gender inclusive: Global responses in crisis management and recovery” here.

  • A UNIDO-organized conference to promote the development of an inclusive and sustainable environment for the economic empowerment of women (here).