Around the world, women face more restricted access to employment opportunities. Typically, women’s labor force participation rates are lower than men’s, their income and earnings are less than men’s, and when they work they are often disproportionately employed in the informal sector. While much attention has been given to entrepreneurship as a viable option for women to improve their livelihoods, it is important to recognize that closing gender gaps in wage employment and improving the terms and conditions of employment would impact larger numbers of women and potentially do more for overall poverty reduction.
ICRW’s research seeks to expand the understanding of women’s labor and employment conditions, the challenges of combining caring and employment responsibilities, and what works to create an empowered workforce. We seek to inform programming to better serve the needs of women employees and promote gender equality in the workplace, addressing issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment, workforce development, and skills training. On the policy side, ICRW research provides evidence about the importance of strong labor market institutions and social protections for all workers, but especially for women. We demonstrate that when women are empowered in the workforce, the benefits flow from individuals and families to communities and national economies.
Funded by USAID, and sub-contracted through Dexis Consulting Group, ICRW produced an evidence summary and guidance document that summarizes women’s employment trends around the world and explores where investments can be made to increase gender equity in labor markets and improve the terms and conditions of women’s employment. Specifically, programs and policy actions that increase women’s employment and reduce both labor market segmentation and gender wage gaps can generate significant benefits for women and communities around the world, and can secure positive macroeconomic outcomes as well. In the final report, ICRW emphasizes the need to address gender equality in labor markets from both the supply-side (skills training, workforce development, and human capital development, etc.) and from the demand side (emergency employment, targeted sectoral, and procurement policy, etc.)