International Labour Organization (ILO) on 8 March 2016 released a report titled Women at Work: Trends 2016. The Women at Work report provides the latest ILO data on women’s position in labour markets and examines the factors behind these trends and explores the policy drivers for transformative change.
The report which was released on International Women’s Day says that gender equality in the workplace remains elusive. It finds millions of women worldwide are not getting the same kind of quality, well-paying jobs as men.
New data of 178 countries present a gloomy picture of the current state of working women. The report shows the gender gap in employment, wages and social protection has changed little in 20 years.
Major Highlights of the report
• Globally, 812 million of the 865 million women who have the potential to contribute to their national economies through employment live in emerging and developing countries.
• Between 1995 and 2015, the global female labour force participation rate decreased from 52.4 to 49.6 percent. The corresponding figures for men are 79.9 and 76.1 percent, respectively. Worldwide, the chances for women to participate in the labour market remain almost 27 percentage points lower than those for men.
• In 2015, the gender gap in the employment rate amounted to 25.5 percentage points in women’s disfavour, only 0.6 percentage points less than in 1995.
• Only marginal improvements have been achieved since the Fourth World Conference on Women of Beijing in 1995, leaving large gaps to be covered in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations in 2015.
• Women are more likely to be unemployed than men, with global unemployment rates of 5.5 percent for men and 6.2 percent for women. With the exception of Eastern Asia, Eastern Europe and Northern America, male unemployment rates are lower than female unemployment rates in all other regions of the world.
• Globally, youth unemployment remains an issue of concern. Unemployment is affecting young women more than young men in almost all regions of the world.
• Globally, the share of contributing family workers has decreased significantly among women (by 17.0 percentage points over the last 20 years) and to a lesser extent among men (by 8.1 percentage points over the same period), resulting in a decrease in the gender gap from 19.5 percentage points in 1995 to 10.6 percentage points in 2015.
• 52.1 percent of women and 51.2 percent of men in the labour market are wage and salaried workers. This in itself constitutes no guarantee of higher job quality. In fact, globally, nearly 40 percent of women in wage employment do not contribute to social protection.
• Since 1995, women’s employment in services has increased from 41.1 percent to 61.5 percent.
• Across the world, women represent less than 40 percent of total employment, but make up 57 percent of those working on a part-time basis.
• Globally, the gender wage gap is estimated to be 23 per cent; in other words, women earn 77 per cent of what men earn. If current trends prevail, it will take more than 70 years before gender wage gaps are closed completely.
• Nearly 65 per cent of people above retirement age without any regular pension are women. This means that 200 million women in old age live without any regular income from social protection (old age or survivors pension), compared to 115 million men.
Main Recommendations of the report
• An integrated policy framework is needed to promote women’s access to more and better quality jobs.
• Affirmative action policies represent an important measure that can be applied by governments, trade unions, employers’ organizations and companies to help remedy the severe underrepresentation of women and their concerns in decision-making in business and societies.
• Education, outreach and training programmes must be designed to encourage and enable girls, boys and young women and men to venture more into non-stereotypical fields of study and work.
• More determined efforts to eliminate outright discrimination and to embed the principle of equal opportunity and treatment between women and men in laws and institutions constitute a key first step.
• Further progress can be made by promoting equal remuneration for work of equal value through wage transparency, training and gender-neutral job evaluations. These measures will help significantly in identifying discriminatory pay practices and unfair pay differences.
• In addition, countries need to support adequate and inclusive minimum wages and to strengthen collective bargaining as key tools in efforts to address low pay, improve women’s wages and hence reduce gender wage gaps.
• Unpaid care work must be recognized, reduced and redistributed and harmonization achieved between work and family life.
Report with respect to India
• If female employment rates were to match male rates, the GDP of India would increase by 27 per cent.
• In India, the minimum wages for domestic workers is lower than that of the cleaning workers, who are the lowest paid. Despite the low minimum wage set for domestic workers in India and other countries that were studied, the compliance rate is less than 50 per cent in the majority of the countries.
• In India, Estonia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Republic of Korea and Turkey, women devote more than three times as much time to unpaid care work as men do.
• India has 100 percent deficit in terms of percentage of total population not covered by national legislation related to long-term care (LTC) coverage in 2015. In the face of these LTC shortages, family members remain the main caregivers of their ageing relatives. Similarly, in India, children can be prosecuted if they fail to provide care for their parents.
• In countries with social insurance systems such as India, employers are still statutorily responsible for the full payment of providing maternity protection, when women do not qualify for contributory social security benefits.
Women at Work: Trends 2016
ILO’s Women at Work: Trends 2016 is a key contribution to these efforts and seeks to further the central goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The report provides a picture of where women stand today in the world of work and how they have progressed over the past 20 years.
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When: 8 March 2016