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How to increase women’s economic participation

As per a recent poll conducted by ILO and Gallup, when ladies throughout the globe had been requested in the event that they most well-liked to work in paid jobs, care for his or her households, or do each, a staggering 70% of girls – no matter their employment standing – most well-liked to work.

Regardless of this astonishing willingness to work, we see that ladies’s participation within the workforce has remained stagnant, and even declined in South Asia, over the past three many years, marking a gender hole of 30 share factors between women and men within the workforce (see Determine 1). Amongst those that are employed, for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 77 cents. Closing these gaps could be a central driver of inclusive financial development. International locations can achieve as a lot as a 20 percent increase in GDP per capita and a 14 percent increase in wealth, on common, if ladies’s employment was as a lot as males’s and if ladies earned as a lot as males, respectively.

Determine 1. Gender gaps in labor drive participation, 1990–2019

Notes: The highest and backside line in every sub-figure signify the proportion of women and men engaged within the labor market, respectively.  Supply: Gender Information Portal 

Drivers of the hole

There are a large number of obstacles—each on the labor supply-side and demand-side—that constrain ladies’s participation within the workforce. Provide-side constraints embrace gender variations in endowments—equivalent to technical and socio-emotional abilities, belongings, and networks, time constraints resulting from mounting family and care tasks, and restricted mobility.

On the labor-demand aspect, mismatch in abilities and schooling wanted for accessible jobs; gender gaps and discrimination in hiring and retention; and lack of advantages that present help for childcare, parental depart, re-entry packages, and profession development circumscribe ladies’s financial participation. Additional, contextual elements equivalent to social and cultural norms and restrictive insurance policies and legal guidelines usually reinforce the impact of the above obstacles and severely constrain ladies’s capability to enter or re-enter the market. Amongst ladies who’re capable of overcome some such obstacles and get employed, many don’t attain their full potential resulting from wage gaps, under- illustration in management and gender-based occupational sorting.

Options to shut the hole

In two new thematic coverage notes, “Increasing Female Labor Force Participation” and “Closing Gender Gaps in Earnings,” we critically assess the proof on examined options, spotlight operational good practices, and provide a menu of coverage choices that might work. Primarily based on the power of the proof, we categorised the assessed interventions into 3 classes:

  • Efficient signifies that there’s multiple causal examine demonstrating the effectiveness of the method throughout contexts
  • Rising refers to an method for which there’s just one piece of causal proof or a robust physique of descriptive proof
  • Much less promising signifies that there’s some causal proof that demonstrates the intervention has restricted or negligible influence

Diploma of effectiveness

Intervention sort (no particular order inside every class)



Much less promising


Be aware: For ease of exposition, we now have linked one examine for every sort of intervention. The total checklist of references might be discovered within the thematic coverage notes. 


Taken collectively, three key classes floor from this assessment.

First, addressing only one constraint is usually crucial however not ample. Girls face a large number of constraints that usually reinforce each other. Efficient interventions usually want to deal with multiple barrier. For example, we discover that coaching and mentorship packages will help bridge the talents hole, handle occupational segregation, and enhance ladies’s illustration in management. Nonetheless, it’s usually more difficult for women to access and complete these programs, resulting from time-poverty, motion restrictions, and gender norms. Thus, packages that combine gender-smart design aspects —equivalent to offering childcare providers and holding coaching in accessible and secure places—can enhance ladies’s participation.

Second, authorized, and institutional reforms are an necessary pre-condition to enhance ladies’s labor market outcomes; but efficient implementation by way of help providers, socialization, communication and monitoring are very important to foster change from de jure to de facto. For example, parental depart mandates must be complemented with provision of childcare providers alongside addressing norms related to outsourcing childcare.

Third, aside from focusing on ladies, it’s equally necessary to engage their partners, parents and different household and group members. Girls, throughout contexts, don’t make selections alone; their household and group members usually enforce gender norms and play a vital function in decision-making. Thus, to really empower ladies, it’s pertinent to design interventions that focus on varied stakeholders in ladies’s circles in order to positively influence attitudes and norms round ladies’s work.