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Women and youth face distinct challenges in participating in the productive sectors of the economy. Although women and youth are not a homogeneous group and their circumstances vary according to age, class, education, ethnicity, location and other cultural- and socio-economic characteristics, it is widely acknowledged that women and youth bear a disproportionate burden of global poverty.

Large and growing youth unemployment threatens sustainable development and social stability, and women continue to experience barriers in almost every aspect of economic life. Women suffer from persistent social and cultural discrimination and unequal access to and control over assets and services.

The primary focus of UNIDO’s activities in this area is on the knowledge, skills, technologies and business support services needed to enable women and youth to engage in productive activities, generate income, and thereby reduce poverty. UNIDO assists governments in developing policies that are gender and age-responsive.

This is achieved through capacity-building activities and policies so as to equip women and youth with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to seize economic opportunities, gain control of their lives and exert influence in society.

Gender equality is promoted by increasing opportunities for both girls and boys, for example through education and the ability to make vocational choices that combat gender divisions in the labour market. UNIDO’s activities in this area also concentrate on the creation of an enabling environment for female entrepreneurs; support for youth entrepreneurship; and the promotion of clusters and partnerships to facilitate access to information, technology and markets for both demographics.

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