UN High-Level Panel (HLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment

UN Report #2 - A Call to Action for Gender EqualityThe UN HLP launched its second and final report on March 14th, 2017, at the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.


Access the full report.

UN Report #1 - A Call to Action for Gender EqualityThe UN HLP launched its first report on September 22, 2016, at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. 


Access the full report.



The United Nations Secretary General's High-Level Panel (UN HLP) for Women's Economic Empowerment is a yearlong initiative (March 2016 - 2017) that brings together leaders from civil society and the private and public sectors to define an actionable agenda for advancing gender equality and improving economic outcomes for women in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). Through research, consultations, and dialogue with a broad set of stakeholders, the panel aims to produce two reports for the UN Secretary-General over the next year that will highlight positive practices and provide a series of action and impact-oriented recommendations. The first of these reports was presented at the annual General Assembly Meeting of the United Nations in September 2016, and the second, which will be primarily focused on implementation, will be presented in March of 2017.

Renana Jhabvala, National Coordinator of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and Chair of the WIEGO board, is representing WIEGO on the panel. She will provide expertise on women in the informal economy grounded in her extensive experience with WIEGO and as National Coordinator of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).  Marty Chen also represents WIEGO in the role of Deputy.
A major objective of WIEGO and SEWA on the panel has been to bring the demands, perspectives and voices of women in the informal economy into the UN HLP process and to ensure that these are reflected in the panel report. To this end, WIEGO has produced six documents for the UN HLP, including a background brief on informal workers and five policy briefs on child care, pay and work conditions, financial and digital inclusion, women’s own-account enterprises and legal barriers from the perspective of women in the informal economy. In addition, WIEGO organized a delegation of representatives from MBOs of street vendors, waste pickers and domestic workers to attend the UN HLP Latin America Regional Consultation in July. Finally, in August, WIEGO and SEWA took part in hosting consultations to provide platforms for informal workers’ voices to be heard in the HLP process. The first of these took place at SEWA’s headquarters in Ahmedabad, India. HLP panelists and deputies traveled to SEWA to engage with women informal workers in their homes and workplaces, and to hear from the women themselves about they define, experience and struggle for economic empowerment. The second consultation was jointly hosted by WIEGO and Oxfam in Johannesburg, South Africa. The consultation brought together worker leaders and members of women’s rights organisations and movements from across the Southern Africa region to discuss the issues on the UN HLP agenda and elaborate a set of recommendations.

Meeting of panelists and deputies:

Inaugural panel meeting (15 March, 2016)

Deputies meeting (29 June, 2016)

Second panel meeting (15 July, 2016)

Report launch at United Nations General Assembly (22 September, 2016)


Round table on women-owned businesses: 17 May, 2016, Washington D.C.
Martha Chen and Marlese Von Borembsen participated in a round table discussion on women-owned businesses designed as an input to the SGHLP. The event was hosted by IDRC, WeConnect International and the Urban Institute. Marlese and Martha presented on the unique legal barriers that women informal workers face both as workers and as women. Specifically they discussed barriers and enabling factors for women own-account operators and cooperatives/producer groups.

Ottawa Consultation: 6 June 2016, Ottawa, Canada
Sofia Trevino and Olga Abizaid participated in the UN SGHLP consultation process in Ottawa, facilitated by the Canadian government. This session was chaired by the Executive Director of UN Women, the Hon. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and attended by Canadian civil society leaders and private and public sector representatives. All participants were invited to provide their input into the deliberations on three of the six major issue areas of the UN SGHLP, namely: Investing in care work or the care economy, improving pay and work conditions and enhancing the productivity of women-owned enterprises.

Latin America Regional Consultation and C189 Side Event: 13 and 14 July 2016, San Jose, Costa Rica

Over two days - July 13 and 14 - a WIEGO delegation participated in the UN HLP Latin America Regional Consultation and a side event concerning the ratification of Convention 189 on Domestic Work in Latin America. Delegates participated in panel discussions, round table working sessions, and contributed their insights during a plenary session.

"Women's Voices from the Informal Economy" Consultation at SEWA: 4 and 5 August 2016, Ahmedabad, India

The consultation “Women's Voices from the Informal Economy” brought together members of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) from across India to share their diverse experiences as workers in the informal economy with members of the UN HLP and other distinguished guests. The consultation took place at SEWA headquarters in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, India.

WIEGO-Oxfam Grassroots Consultation for Southern Africa: 10 August, Johannesburg, South Africa

On August 10, WIEGO and Oxfam co-hosted a consultation focused on grassroots women's organizations and movements in South Africa and the region.
The consultation focused on prioritising the voices of women’s rights organisations and movements to set out how the agenda for women’s economic empowerment can be best implemented in Africa and globally, including by outlining what role women’s rights organisations play and what support they may need.

WIEGO Resources:

Compendium of WIEGO-SEWA Case Studies for UN HLP

Additional Resources:


Poliana Inacio


Madalena Duarte


Ernestina Ochoa


Poonsap Tulaphan


Firoza Mehrotra