How Multinationals Can Advance Gender Equality in Developing Countries

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Because we all deserve gender equality!

Back in 2021, UNCTAD came up with the report dedicated to International Women’s Day, showing that multinationals (multinational enterprises, or MNEs) located in developing countries can be a better place to work in terms of gender equality.

For instance, one statistic presented in this report explained the case of an international textile and garments company in Bangladesh that had 50% more female administrative workers than local businesses in the same industry. The same effect was reached in South Africa by the MNEs that employed similar gender equality policies.

However, the question arises - what exactly do you need to add to your policy as a multinational company in a developing country to ensure gender equality?

Here are some suggestions.

1. Eliminate the Wage Gap

The first thing noticeable in many work environments is the wage gap between male and female workers. In fact, for the same work, women earn 20% less on average than men. Furthermore, the UN Women infographic shows that the wage gap among females with children in Sub-Saharan Africa is 31% and in Southeast Asia is 35%, while for women with no children, the gap is only 4% and 14%, respectively:

UN Women

So, the first thing you should consider reviewing in your company policies is the wages you pay your workers. The salary should not be determined by the social status of the worker or their gender. Rather, you should base the remuneration on the qualifications and accomplishments.

2. Provide Equal Opportunities for Education

Speaking about accomplishments, it’s your task as an employer to encourage professional employee development, which is also an influential factor in gender equality. Aside from that, facilitating a learning culture in the workplace can reduce turnover in your company by 30-50%, helping you create a healthy, inclusive, and supportive work environment.

Why is education a pathway to gender equality?

In most countries with developing economies, education is a male privilege. In some cases, girls are only allowed to attend primary schools to gain basic writing and reading skills, after which they are sent off to marry. Thus, giving them access to corporate education can help improve their skills and get equal career opportunities.

So, what can you offer as an employer?

First of all, it can be English language learning courses since English is the primary language in multinational companies operating abroad. Knowing English well will help your female employees advance in their careers and work more efficiently.

Apart from that, you can also give them access to training that improves job-related skills. It can also be a course for managers that would provide all your workers with equal opportunities to compete for better job positions in the future.

3. Introduce Paternity Leaves

Finally, if you’re a multinational enterprise operating in a developing country, you can introduce paternity leaves as one more adjustment to your corporate policy.

Why are paternity leaves important for gender equality in the workplace?

Some studies have shown that having equal opportunities to get a vacation to take care of a child for men and women matters for female employment. For instance, one research that investigated the company-level data in 53 developing countries highlighted that the availability of paternity leaves balances the opportunities for women and men to get employment.

It’s not a secret that in many countries, even with developed economies, women sometimes don’t get a job because they might have a child and thus will have to get a maternity leave that can last up to three years, depending on the country. So, giving both men and women an opportunity to take time off to look after their newborn children equals their rights at a workplace.

Over to You

Multinationals indeed can advance gender equality in developing countries by finding balance and respecting diversity. Of course, this will require some changes to corporate policies to reach the final goal.

Namely, you will need to eliminate the wage gap, introduce equal opportunities for education, and incorporate paternity leaves to help women get more opportunities to get a job.

Overall, ensuring gender equality involves continuous work, and you will have to tailor your policies to the demands of the country where your business operates. However, if your company can influence equal rights in a workplace in a developing country, by all means, use your power.

About the Author

Ryan is a passionate blogger and writer who likes sharing his thoughts and. Now he works as a content editor and internet researcher, you can check his website He likes to travel and explore new countries.

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