Gender imbalances in employment and working conditions are more than previously thought and progress in reducing them disappointingly slow in the last two decades, said a newILObrief.
Jobs Gap, a new indicator developed by the ILO, the captures all persons without employment that are interested in finding a job. This indicator painted a much bleaker picture of the situation of women in the world of work than the more commonly used unemployment rate.
WORKING AGE WOMEN
The brief – New data shine light on gender gaps in the labour market– showed that 15 per cent of working-age women globally would like to work but do not have a job, compared with 10.5 per cent of men. The ILO said that this gender gap remained almost unchanged for two decades (2005-2022). Moreover, the UN Organisation stated that global unemployment rates for women and men are very similar as the criteria used to define unemployment tends to disproportionately exclude women.
The ILO brief states that personal and family responsibilities, including unpaid care work, disproportionately affect women. These prevent women not only from being employed but also from actively searching for employment or being available to work at short notice, the ILO added. It is necessary to meet these criteria to be considered unemployed, so many women in need of a job aren’t reflected in the unemployment figures, the organisation said.
The jobs gap is severe in developing countries where the proportion of women unable to find a job reaches 24.9 per cent in low-income countries. The corresponding rate for men in the same category is 16.6 per cent, a worryingly high level but significantly lower than that for women, the brief explained.
It further said that gender disparity in labour income is much worse in low and lower-middle income countries. Here women earn 33 cents and 29 cents on the dollar respectively. In high-income and upper-middle income countries, women’s relative labour income reaches 58 and 56 cents respectively per dollar earned by men. This striking disparity in earnings is driven by both women’s lower employment level, as well as their lower average earnings when they are employed, the ILO said.
Gender imbalances in decent work are not limited to access to employment. While vulnerable employment is widespread for both women and men, women tend to be over-represented in certain types of vulnerable jobs. For instance, women are more likely to be helping out in their households or in their relatives’ businesses rather than being in own-account work.
This vulnerability, together with lower employment rates, takes a toll on women’s earnings. Globally, for each dollar of labour income men earn, women earned only 51 cents.
The global unemployment rate stood at 5.8 per cent in 2022, below the average rates in the two decades before the pandemic, and it is projected to remain at that level in 2023. Estimates range from 4.3 per cent for men in high-income countries to 6.2 per cent for women in lower-middle income countries. In 2022, the global jobs gap stood at around 473 million people, more than double the unemployment headcount of 205 million. This equates to a jobs gap rate of 12.3 per cent, which represents the share of those who would like to work that are jobless
The new estimates shine light on the magnitude of gender disparities in labour markets, underscoring how important it is to improve women’s overall participation in employment, to expand their access to employment across occupations, and to address the glaring gaps in job quality that women face.