European Union and UN Women partner to advance the economic rights of women migrant workers in China
[Joint Press Release]
[For immediate release]
Beijing, China — UN Women and the European Union today jointly launched “Women in Motion”, a two-and-half-year programme to enhance decent work and career development among migrant women workers in Guangdong Province.
Funded by the European Union, the programme will facilitate dialogue among national and local government entities, industry associations, civil society organizations, academic institutions and women’s organizations towards creating an environment that promotes the rights of women workers. The programme will enhance women workers’ capacity that enables progression for career development. It also provides employers and industries with tools, capacities and established mechanisms to advance women’s career development.
UN Women will work closely with the Chinese Academy of Labour and Social Security, the China Enterprise Confederation and industry associations to implement the programme.
Despite progress, gender gaps persist in most workplaces. Many women workers cluster in lower-earning jobs where they encounter wide pay gaps, sexual harassment, employment discrimination, the absence of women in leadership roles and a lack of family-friendly policies.
According to an enterprise questionnaire UN Women conducted in China in 2022, around 70 per cent of 266 private companies do not provide any childcare facilities or services. Only 27 per cent have measures to prevent workplace violence and sexual harassment. In half of companies, less than 20 per cent of middle and senior managers are women. A lack of equality is evident as well in unpaid care work; women spend around 2.5 times as much time on it as men in China according to National Bureau of Statistics of China.
Internal migrant women workers are particularly vulnerable to multiple forms of discrimination and abuse, and face numerous challenges in accessing resources, which is further compounded by their non-local identity and relatively low levels of education.
Smriti Aryal, Country Representative of UN Women in China, says: “Women workers need equal participation in the decision-making process to ensure their voices and needs are heard in factories and communities. For this, gender-responsive mechanisms, programmes and policies for women workers, especially women migrant workers, must be established. We are glad to continue our partnership with the European Union and local partners including government partners in this regard.”
Ambassador Jorge Toledo of the EU Delegation to China states: “The European Union wants to provide the same opportunities for all women and men, who share the same aspirations. All external actions of the European Union should mainstream gender equality and promote women’s empowerment. We are happy to engage UN Women, with this pilot project in 100 factories in Guangdong Province, to enhance equality and dignity in employment in a gender-inclusive workplace.”
The corporate partnership between UN Women and the European Union started in 2012, when the two organizations signed their first memorandum of understanding. The current programme in China builds on the corporate partnership as well as previous collaborative efforts between UN Women and the EU in China. These include the WeEmpowerAsia programme implemented from 2019-2022, which helped integrate gender into business practices and benefited over 12,000 companies across multiple industries in China.