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Request for research proposals

Tue 13 Aug 2019

The dynamics of women’s work: routes to economic and social empowerment

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) invites proposals for research papers on the dynamics of women’s work, in order to improve our understanding of the linkages between women’s work and their economic and social empowerment. The successful proposals will become part of the body of evidence within the UNU-WIDER project Women’s work – routes to economic and social empowerment. Submission deadline: 31 August 2019, 23:59 UTC+3

Brief background

Recent progress in narrowing gender gaps in education, health, and political representation has not been matched by similar improvements in labour market outcomes for women, or more broadly, women’s economic empowerment. Global data shows that there has been no increase in female labour force participation and no decrease in the gap between men and women. Women typically occupy the worst-paid jobs with the least protection, and attitudes toward gender often hinder access to better opportunities.

Women’s work differs from men’s as women are more likely to be unpaid for their work in family enterprises, and women are primarily responsible for household and caring tasks. Such combined responsibilities to contribute to their family enterprises, earn income in typically low-paid jobs, and care for the household can negatively affect women’s physical and mental wellbeing.

For women to be economically and socially empowered, it is necessary to increase both the quantity and quality of jobs for women, and address gender barriers in accessing job opportunities and segregation in labour markets. Furthermore, the achievement of gender equality in labour market outcomes critically depends on the adoption of policies that address the ‘double burden’ that low-income women in particular face — earning income for the family as well as caring for other household members.

UNU-WIDER’s project Women’s work will cover three broad areas of research, including segregation, transitions, and measurement. This call is for proposals for papers on the key questions related to transitions.

Read the full announcement for more information.

Offer and expectations

UNU-WIDER invites proposals from qualified researchers for papers based on any of the questions/issues listed above, or different questions related to the dynamics of women’s work. The aim is that these papers will culminate as articles in a special issue of a journal.

Proposals from individuals (or groups of individuals) as well as non-profit-organizations are welcome. Applications from suitably qualified women and developing country researchers are particularly encouraged. Applications from groups composed by at least 50% women will be given preference over groups with a smaller female quota. Proposals may address one or more of the research questions. Please read the concept note behind the project carefully before submitting a proposal.

The working paper will be considered for publication in the WIDER Working Paper series. The working paper needs to be written in English and should be limited to 10,000 words or less, as this is likely to be the maximum word count of a journal article should the paper be accepted for future publication in a collection. UNU-WIDER only commissions original research which has not been published elsewhere. To ensure the quality and originality of research, all submitted studies are analysed with the iThenticate software at the first deliverable stage and again prior to publication.

All successful applicants are expected to attend a 1-2-day workshop in 2020 (date and venue TBD) where work in progress will be presented to other contracted researchers.

Read the full announcement for more information.


1 July 2019announcement posted

30 July 2019final opportunity for questions on the request for research proposals

31 August 2019proposals due

15 October 2019target date for informing on final decisions

15 December 2019target date for completion of necessary administrative procedures

1 May 2020target date for submission of first draft of papers

June-July 2020target window for work-in-progress workshop

30 September 2020target date for submission of final papers

31 October 2020target date for publication of working papers

30 November 2020papers enter journal peer review process

Proposal submission details

Submission of proposals is done electronically by using a form on the RFRP announcement page. There are three forms to select from; one for individuals, another for groups of individuals, and a third one for non-profit organizations. Details (such as address, gender, nationality, date of birth) of all researchers involved will need to be entered to the form and the cover page, the proposal, and short CVs (five pages or less) of researcher(s) uploaded. Please familiarize yourself with the form in advance. 

Any questions on the proposal process should be sent to by 30 July 2019. All queries and responses will be published on the RFRP announcement page. Selected answers will be updated on a rolling basis.

See full request for research proposals