Gender gap is one of key challenges facing women in the world of work today, says ILO report


The IFJ has welcomed a major new ILO report calling for action to address gender pay gaps, remove obstacles to women’s career progression and tackle discrimination, violence and harassment at work.

'The World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2017' issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 14 June, 2017, identifies the gender gap as the main challenge for women in the labour market.

The report examines gender trends and gaps in the global and regional labour market as well as the main factors driving them. 

Based on an analysis of labour force participation and unemployment rates, employment status, as well as gaps in income and sectoral and occupational opportunities, the report shows that gender gaps in the labour market still remain widespread across the world and limit women’s access to the world of work. 

The report also presents a detailed analysis of the major factors driving female participation in the labour market by investigating and understanding the preferences of women and their societal gender role as well as the socio-economic constraints women face.

According to the report, women still have limited access to the labour market. Women in emerging countries are facing the largest gender gap in participation rates that accounts for nearly 31%. They are followed by those women in developed and developing countries, in which the gender gap in participation rates is more than 16% and 12% respectfully. The worst situation is in the Arab States, Northern Africa and Southern Asia where the gender gap in participation exceeds 50%. 

Another important finding is that women also have restricted access to quality employment opportunities. They are less likely than men to find a well-paid quality job and are more likely to undertake a greater number of hours of unpaid work and to be in vulnerable forms of employment.  

The study says that in 2017, the global unemployment rate for women stands at 6.2% in comparison with the male unemployment rate of 5.5% which represents a gap of 0.7%. It is estimated in the report that based on current trends this gap will remain at the same level until 2021. In the Arab States and Northern Africa, unemployment rates among women exceed 20%, which represents more than twice the rate of their male counterparts.

However, it is demonstrated that the share of women in wage and salaried employment tends to increase with a country’s level of economic development. Since 1997 the share for women has increased by 8.9%, from 46.5% to 55.4%, while for men it has increased only by 6%, from 48.4% to 54.4%. It means that the gender gap was reversed, so that in 2017 the share of workers in wage and salaried employment is higher for women than for men.

Concerning the gaps in income, as outlined in the ILO 'Global Wage Report (2016/17)', the problem of unequal remuneration between women and men varies widely by country and exists virtually everywhere. Differences in the remuneration of men and women can be partially explained by education level, skills and experience; however, studies have proven that unequal remuneration is largely determined by the gender wage gap.

According to the study 'The World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2017', in developed countries, the higher the average wage is, the wider is the gap in wages.

The report shows that closing these labour market gaps and engaging more women in the labour force will definitely create significant economic benefits and positive impacts not only in terms of GDP growth but also on a global scale, in terms of socio-economic and gender norms and policies development. 

The study suggests that a comprehensive set of measures should be introduced to address the gender issues in the world of work and in society, including measures such as: 

  • Promoting equal remuneration for work of equal value
  • Tackling the root causes of occupational and sectoral segregation
  • Transforming institutions to prevent and eliminate discrimination, violence and harassment against both women and men
  • Introducing improved policies to promote work-family balance
  • Creating and protecting quality jobs in the care economy
  • Targeting the macroeconomic environment and informal economy

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 141 countries

Follow the IFJ on Twitter and Facebook

Subscribe to IFJ News