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Gender at Work: A Companion to the World Development Report on Jobs

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A companion to the 2013 World Development Report on jobs, Gender at Work finds huge, persistent gender gaps at work around the world. This major new report advances our understanding of key trends, patterns and constraints, and offers innovative, promising approaches to policies and programs that can level the playing field.

A Companion to the
World Development Report on Jobs


Gender at Work


In the
World of


Work




Cover photos from top to bottom:
Construction worker checking progress and quality of dam under construction, Sri Lanka. Photographer Lakshman Nadaraja
Woman attends her produce post in a market, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Photographer Maria Fleischmann
Young woman tending her peppers in the marketplace, Lagos, Nigeria. Photographer Women’s World Banking
Stall owner, Thimphu weekend market, Bhutan. Photographer Michael Foley
Teacher in action, Rajasthan, India. Photographer Michael Foley


Page 1: Women repairing a road, Hanoi. Photographer Tran Thi Hoa
Page 5: Woman works at weaving a carpet, Herat, Afghanistan. Photographer Graham Crouch
Page 17: Woman tends to plants in a nursery, Sri Lanka. Photographer Lakshman Nadaraja
Page 33: Woman works on her farm, Tanzania. Photographer Scott Wallace
Page 53: Woman cutting bamboo to weave into baskets, Vientiane, Lao PDR. Photographer Stanislas Fradelizi




A Companion to the
World Development Report on Jobs


Gender at Work


In the
World of


Work






Acknowledgments vii
Foreword ix


Executive Summary 1
Gender Equality in the World of Work Matters 1
Where Do We Stand? 1
Overlapping Disadvantages and Gender Equality at Work 2
Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 3
Notes 4


1. Introduction: Engendering Jobs 5
Context: Gender and the Jobs Challenge 5
Motivation: Inadequate Progress and Missed Dividends for Development 6
Report Scope, Approach, and Value Added 8
Two Paradoxes Surrounding Equality at Work 10
A Note on Male Disadvantage 11
Context Matters 12
Notes 13


2. Taking Stock: Stylized Facts About Gender at Work 17
Employment Status and Quality 18
Earnings 22
Differences in Entrepreneurship and Farming 24
Labor Force Participation 25
Notes 28


3. Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 33
Bundled Constraints: Norms, Agency, and Economic Opportunities 34
Childhood and Youth: The Start of Unequal Trajectories 38
Productive Age: Constraints at Work 40
Elderly Years: The Culmination of Lifelong Disadvantage 45
Notes 46


4. Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 53
Diagnostics 54
Three Levels of Action 55
Conclusions 72
Notes 72


Table of Contents




iv Gender at Work


FiGures
Figure 1.1. Female labor force participation has increased dramatically in Latin America and the Caribbean 8
Figure 1.2. Gender outcomes result from interactions among markets, institutions, and households 9
Figure 1.3. Countries range widely in the extent of gender gaps in economic opportunities


despite levels of development 10
Figure 1.4. In the Middle East and North Africa, not much improvement in female labor force


participation despite gains in schooling 11
Figure 2.1. A multidimensional perspective to gender equality in the world of work is needed 18
Figure 2.2. Women are underrepresented in every type of employment, with greater gaps


in developing countries 19
Figure 2.3. Women are generally less likely to be full-time employed for an employer 20
Figure 2.4. Women’s employment is more likely to be part-time 20
Figure 2.5. Employment status by sex and income level 22
Figure 2.6. Women are underrepresented in firms’ top management 23
Figure 2.7. Country differences exceed gender differences in attitudes toward women’s leadership ability 23
Figure 2.8. Distribution of self-employed jobs in 97 developing countries 24
Figure 2.9. Women are less likely than men to have formal accounts and credit 26
Figure 2.10. Gender gaps in labor force participation for different age groups 27
Figure 3.1. Biased norms and lack of agency across the lifecycle affect equality at work 34
Figure 3.2. Main reasons given by young women in Morocco for not wanting to work, 2010 35
Figure 3.3. Women face overlapping constraints (percentages of women facing constraints) 37
Figure 3.4. Women are doubly disadvantaged by gender and ethnicity 39
Figure 3.5. Even where gender parity is reached in higher education, segregation persists 41
Figure 3.6. There is little evidence of female underperformance in subjects often dominated by men 41
Figure 3.7. Gender-based time allocations have changed in industrialized countries,


signaling shifting norms 42
Figure 3.8. The share of elderly people is growing rapidly in developing countries 43
Figure 3.9. Percentage of countries with different numbers of sex-based legal differentiations


by regions, and regional averages across countries 44


Boxes
Box 1.1. How gender equality in the world of work contributes to development 7
Box 1.2. Regional perspectives on challenges and opportunities for gender equality at work 12
Box 2.1. To better understand gender at work 19
Box 2.2. Gender and informality: nuanced perspectives are needed 21
Box 3.1. Norms favor men’s economic opportunities, but can policies change them? 36
Box 3.2. Fragility, gender, and jobs 39
Box 4.1. Beyond having a job: gender and the Decent Work Agenda 55
Box 4.2. Navigating the many policy options for childcare services and financing 61
Box 4.3. Companies can help level the playing field for women’s work through corporate philanthropy 66
Box 4.4. Starting from within: The World Bank Group and gender equality at work 68


Resource Box 2.1. Where do countries stand? Global and regional rankings
on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment 28


Resource Box 3.1. Data sources on deprivations and constraints 47
Resource Box 4.1. Using ADePT Gender to support country diagnostics 57
Resource Box 4.2. Identifying what works 65
Resource Box 4.3. Resources for private sector engagement and leadership 69




Table of Contents v


Figure 3.10. Elderly women in India are less independent than elderly men 46
Figure 4.1. Igniting equality at work: World Bank Group entry points 54
Figure 4.2. Both broad-based and targeted actions across the lifecycle can contribute to gender


equality in the world of work 58
Figure 4.3. Implementing STEP as an integrated set of programs across workers’ lifecycles 59
Figure 4.4. Enrollment of children in preprimary education remains very low in low-income countries 62


Figure Box 3.1A. Share of the population agreeing that when jobs are scarce, a man should have
more of a right to a job than a woman 36


Figure Box 3.1B. Discriminating norms are associated with few women working 36


TaBles
Table 4.1. Diagnosing constraints across the lifecycle 56
Table 4.2. Indicators where urgent action is needed to close data gaps 70






This report has been the work of the World Bank Group’s
Gender and Development unit. The task was led by Matthew
Morton. The report was prepared under the guidance of Jeni
Klugman (Director, Gender and Development). The main con-
tributors to the writing and analyses were Jeni Klugman, Lucia
Hanmer, and Dorothe Singer. The team is also grateful to several
other individuals—including Julieth Andrea Santamaria Bonilla,
Alicia Samantha Hammond, Sveinung Kiplesund, Josefina Posa-
das, Emma Samman, and Sarah Twigg—for important contribu-
tions to specific sections and analyses.


The team would also like to acknowledge Kathleen Beegle,
Sarah Iqbal, Leora Klapper, and Claudio Montenegro for their co-
operation; Henriette Kolb, Martin Rama, and Carolina Sanchez-
Paramo for their work in conducting peer reviews; and the World
Bank Group Gender and Development Board members and
others for useful review comments and input. Communications
coordination has been led by Sarah Jackson-Han and administra-
tive support has been provided by Ngozi Kalu-Mba.


Acknowledgments






Foreword


Today, many more girls are going to school and living longer,
healthier lives than 30 or even 10 years ago. That was the good
news in our flagship 2012 World Development Report on gender.
But this has not translated into broader gains. Too many women
still lack basic freedoms and opportunities and face huge inequali-
ties in the world of work. Globally, fewer than half of women have
jobs, compared with almost four-fifths of men. Girls and women
still learn less, earn less, and have far fewer assets and opportuni-
ties. They farm smaller plots, work in less profitable sectors, and
face discriminatory laws and norms that constrain their time and
choices, as well as their ability to own or inherit property, open a
bank account, or take out a loan—to buy fertilizer, for example,
that would boost food production for whole communities.


Gender at Work looks closely at existing constraints as well as
policies and practices that show promise in closing the gaps. A
companion to the 2013 World Development Report on jobs, the
report advocates investing more in women’s capabilities and elim-
inating structural barriers such as laws that bar women from own-
ing property, accessing financing, or working without permission
from a male relative.


Public and private policies and actions can promote equality
over a lifetime. This includes education and training during youth
and creating opportunities for women to participate in paid work
during their economically productive years. It extends to imple-
menting equitable old-age labor regulations combined with ap-
propriate social protection later in life. We need leadership and
innovation as well as scaled-up efforts to fill critical gaps in knowl-
edge and evidence, from the private sector, governments, science,
and media—and individuals. This agenda is urgent. Failure to act
represents a huge missed opportunity. We know that reducing
gender gaps in the world of work can yield broad development
dividends: improving child health and education, enhancing pov-
erty reduction, and catalyzing productivity.


Empowering women and girls is vital in order to achieve our twin
goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared pros-
perity. The World Bank Group is fully committed to this agenda.


Jim Yong Kim


President, The World Bank Group






executive summary


Gender equaliTy in The World oF Work MaTTers
Jobs can bring gains for women, their families, businesses, and communities.


Jobs boost self-esteem and pull families out of poverty. Yet gender disparities persist in
the world of work. Closing these gaps, while working to stimulate job creation more
broadly, is a prerequisite for ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.


Gender equality in the world of work is a win-win on many fronts. A large
and growing body of evidence demonstrates both the business and the development
case. Booz & Company estimates that raising female employment to male levels
could have a direct impact on GDP, increasing it by 34 percent in Egypt, 12 percent
in the United Arab Emirates, 10 percent in South Africa, and 9 percent in Japan,
taking into account losses in economy-wide labor productivity that could occur as
new workers entered the labor force.1 Yet almost half of women’s productive poten-
tial globally is unutilized, compared to 22 percent of men’s, according to the Inter-
national Labour Organization.2 In places where women’s paid work has increased,
as in Latin America and the Caribbean, gains have made significant contributions
to overall poverty reduction.


Both the World Development Report 2013 on Jobs (WDR 2013) and the World
Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality and Development (WDR 2012)
provide valuable and complementary frameworks to help policy makers advance
gender equality in the world of work. The WDR 2013 approach helps us to under-
stand how and when promoting gender equality in the world of work adds significant
development value. The WDR 2012, meanwhile, offers an important framework for
diagnosing and addressing gender-specific constraints. An important link between
the two WDRs is the notion of agency—women’s ability to make choices they value
and to act on those choices. Jobs can increase women’s agency by expanding their life
choices and their capacity to better support their families and more actively partici-
pate in communities and societies. Conversely, significant constraints on agency pose
major barriers to women’s work and help explain the persistence of gender gaps.


Following the WDR 2013, “jobs” are broadly defined to include various
forms of wage and non-wage work, formal and informal. Informal work is the
largest source of employment throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and
working women are more likely than working men to be self-employed or farming.
The jobs that are best for women’s economic empowerment—and development
goals more broadly—depend on country-specific jobs challenges.


Where do We sTand?
Gender equality in the world of work is multidimensional. Broadly, key


dimensions include labor force participation, employment, firm and farming




2 Gender at Work


characteristics, earnings, and job quality. The last is the most
difficult to measure and varies by context. However, full-time
wage employment is a strong predictor of subjective well-be-
ing, and jobs that provide higher earnings, benefits, rights, and
opportunities for skills development are more likely to expand
women’s agency.


On virtually every global measure, women are more eco-
nomically excluded than men. Trends suggest that women’s la-
bor force participation (ages 15–64) worldwide over the last two
decades has stagnated, declining from 57 to 55 percent globally.
Participation is as low as 25 percent in the Middle East and North
Africa. Globally, Gallup estimates that men are nearly twice as
likely as women to have full-time jobs—and, in South Asia, they
are more than three times as likely.3


Gender gaps are evident among farmers, entrepreneurs, and
employees alike. Because of gender-specific constraints, female
farmers tend to have lower output per unit of land and are less
likely to be active in commercial farming than men. In the Cen-
tral Highlands of Ethiopia, the value of output per hectare of fe-
male-headed households has been estimated to be 35 percent lower
than that of male-headed households, a disparity stemming mainly
from unequal access to productive inputs.4 Female entrepreneurs
typically operate smaller firms and in less profitable sectors. In
Latin America and the Caribbean, half of established businesses
owned by women have no employees, compared to 38 percent of
businesses owned by men.5 Female employees are more likely to
work in temporary and part-time jobs, are less likely to be pro-
moted, and are concentrated in occupations and sectors with lower
barriers to entry. Women and girls also do the vast majority of
unpaid care and housework.


Women generally earn less than men. ILO analysis of 83
countries shows that women in paid work earn on average be-
tween 10 and 30 percent less than men.6 Gaps are particularly
acute in the Middle East and North Africa, but also persist in
high-income OECD countries.


Gender sorting into different jobs, industries, and firm types
explains much of the pay gap. Throughout the world, women
are concentrated in less-productive jobs and run enterprises in
less-productive sectors, with fewer opportunities for business
scale-up or career advancement. The latest Grant Thornton In-
ternational Business Report indicates that the share of women in
senior management roles globally is only 24 percent.7 Across de-
veloping countries, 18 percent of non-agricultural self-employed
males work in business-oriented services, compared to only 5 per-
cent of females; women are more heavily concentrated in retail
services, often in the informal sector.8


overlappinG disadvanTaGes and Gender
equaliTy aT Work


Gender-smart jobs strategies need to identify and address
multiple deprivations and constraints that underlie gender
inequality in the world of work. The WDR 2012 provides a


valuable framework for understanding the challenges. It high-
lights key outcome areas—agency, endowments, and economic
opportunities—and underscores the fact that disparities are
driven by multiple constraints that arise in formal and infor-
mal institutions, markets, and households. The constraints are
most severe among women who face other disadvantages, such
as being a member of an ethnic minority, having a disability, or
being poor.


Social norms are a key factor underlying deprivations and
constraints throughout the lifecycle. Norms affect women’s
work by dictating the way they spend their time and underval-
uing their potential. Housework, child-rearing, and elderly care
are often considered primarily women’s responsibility. Further,
nearly four in 10 people globally (close to one-half in developing
countries) agree that, when jobs are scarce, men should have more
right to jobs than women.9 Research shows that women are fre-
quently disadvantaged by gender biases in performance and hiring
evaluations.10


Jobs can increase women’s agency, but a lack of agency also
restricts women’s job opportunities. In most developing coun-
tries, women have fewer choices in fundamental areas of day-to-
day life, including their own movements, sexual and reproductive
health decisions, ability to use household assets, and whether and
when to go to school, work, or participate in other economic-re-
lated activities. Further, a large proportion of women in the world
lack freedom from violence. The World Health Organization es-
timates that more than 35 percent of women have experienced
gender-based violence.11 Without addressing these critical con-
straints on agency, women cannot take full advantage of potential
economic opportunities.


Inequalities in endowments and assets contribute to gaps
in the world of work. While there has been important progress
globally, in some countries fundamental deprivations persist. In
2010–12, female-to-male enrollment ratios for primary school
were less than 90 percent in 16 countries, mainly in Africa,
and some 57 million primary school age children were not en-
rolled.12 Many women lack access to land and financial capital.
Other deep-seated differences also persist. For example, young
women and men often follow different educational streams and
develop differences in aspirations and skills that underlie occu-
pational segregations later in life. A wider account of productive
inputs shows women disadvantaged in areas such as access to
financial services, technology, training, information, and social
networks.


Legal discrimination is a remarkably common barrier to
women’s work. Of 143 economies, 128 had at least one legal dif-
ferentiation in 2013.13 These barriers include restricting women’s
ability to access institutions (such as obtaining an ID card or con-
ducting official transactions), own or use property, build credit,
or get a job. In 15 countries, women still require their husbands’
consent to work. In many economies, especially in the Middle
East and North Africa, women face the cumulative effects of mul-
tiple legal constraints.




Executive Summary 3


iGniTinG Gender equaliTy in The World oF
Work


While there are no “magic formulas,” effectively tackling gen-
der inequality at work is likely to be an integral part of addressing
country jobs challenges. Overcoming gender inequality involves
understanding local specificities and developing bold, coordinated
actions to address multiple constraints. It requires investments in
people’s skills and capabilities, and supporting their abilities to
contribute to higher productivity activities and economy-wide
competitiveness over their life cycles. Four broad areas are likely
to be important.


1. Integrate gender into jobs diagnostics. Growth and labor
market country diagnostics can identify the gender-specific con-
straints that women face in accessing productive jobs. A joint World
Bank and Asian Development Bank gender assessment for Lao PDR
found persistent wage gaps and self-employed women running
smaller businesses. These diagnostics led to growth strategy recom-
mendations focused on improving access to finance and business
training for women entrepreneurs. A gender assessment in Vietnam
identified adverse impacts of gender differences in statutory retire-
ment ages and outlined policy options for addressing the problem.


2. Level the playing field through government actions across
the lifecycle. Biases can begin very early in life, sometimes in sub-
tle ways, and start trajectories of inequality that become increas-
ingly difficult and costly to resolve. Policy actions across the lifecy-
cle to advance gender equality in the world of work will typically
include both (a) broad-based actions that, while benefiting every-
one, may have an even greater impact on women’s economic op-
portunities (such as early childhood development programming
or reducing inefficiencies to business registration) as well as (b)
targeted actions to remove or offset gender-specific constraints.
The report discusses evidence behind a wider range of targeted
actions, but selected examples are highlighted here.


During childhood and youth, policy actions can tackle in-
equalities through education and training. A growing body of
evidence demonstrates the value of cash transfers with special in-
centives as a demand-side tool for boosting equality in schooling.
Examples of supply-side strategies that have shown positive results
by addressing gender-specific constraints include increasing the
proximity of schools to homes in Afghanistan and building “girl-
friendly” schools in Burkina Faso that improve facilities and in-
centives for girls’ education while engaging parents and teachers.14
Education systems can challenge stereotypes through curricula.
Tanzania’s national curriculum includes substantial gender-related
material in its secondary school civics syllabus and examinations.15
Multicomponent skills-development programs can also make a
difference. A World Bank-supported youth employment program
in Liberia that included vocational and life skills training, along
with job placement help, boosted young women’s employment by
47 percent and average weekly earnings by 80 percent.16


For women of productive age, actions can focus on remov-
ing barriers to getting paid work. Eliminating legal and formal


barriers to women’s work is
key to leveling the playing
field. Reforms should focus
on removing restrictions to
women’s work in labor and
employment; removing un-
equal status provisions, such as head-of-household provisions, in
family law; allowing and encouraging women’s ownership and
joint-titling of land; enforcing equitable inheritance laws; and
applying nondiscrimination principles to customary laws. Most
countries have made significant progress toward more equita-
ble laws over recent decades, but there has been less progress in
some regions, notably in the Middle East and North Africa and
in South Asia.


Beyond addressing legal discrimination, targeted policies can
address more subtle constraints. Strategies can include family-
friendly leave and flexibility policies, extending affordable child-
care and early child development programs, and developing tech-
nology and infrastructure to reduce burdens on women’s time for
household chores and care work. The World Bank estimates that
adding one year of preschool education in Turkey, for example,
could increase female labor force participation by 9 percent.17 Fa-
ther-friendly leave policies in the UK and Nordic countries have
strengthened opportunities and incentives for men to share in
domestic responsibilities. A World Bank-supported program in
Cambodia reduced women’s time devoted to collecting firewood
and increased their incomes by selling low-cost, fuel-efficient
cookstoves through local female vendors.18


During elderly years, governments can support equitable
old-age labor regulations combined with appropriate social
protection. The importance of this demographic cannot be ig-
nored. In developing countries, the old-age dependency ratio is
expected to increase by 144 percent from 2010 to 2050, whereas
the child dependency ratio is projected to fall by 20 percent during
the same period. This translates to increased elderly care responsi-
bilities for productive age women, as well as potential challenges
for elderly people themselves. Many governments have removed
differences in retirement and pension ages, but gaps remain in
49 countries. World Bank analysis showed that mandatory earlier
retirement causes early labor force withdrawal of urban women
in China.19 In developing countries, many elderly women are
outside the scope of formal social protection—although studies
in Brazil and South Africa have shown that pensions received by
elderly women significantly increased granddaughters’ education
and health.20 More policy experimentation is needed on interven-
tions for updating older women’s and men’s skills and increasing
connections to the labor market.


3. Proactive private sector leadership and innovation for
gender equality. The private sector accounts for about three out
of four jobs in countries like Egypt, Finland, and France and nine
out of 10 jobs in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Japan, and South
Africa. With International Finance Corporation (IFC) support,
commercial banks in Cambodia, Nigeria, and Romania, among


Agency is the ability to
make one’s own choices
and act upon them.




4 Gender at Work


other countries, are increasing their female clientele,21 and com-
panies in male-dominated sectors, such as chemicals and con-
struction, are increasing women’s access to jobs through more
concerted recruitment and family-friendly work arrangements.
Multinational firms have increased profitability in South Korea by
actively recruiting women for local managerial positions.22 While
success stories are encouraging, a focus on gender equality is still
all too rare. ManpowerGroup surveys report that only 2 percent
of employers across 42 countries have adopted strategies to recruit
more women.23


Private and public sector actors can form powerful partnerships
to support women’s entrepreneurship, which in turn contributes
to growth and a dynamic private sector. Women’s entrepreneur-
ship can be fostered through a combination of increased access to
capital, networks, and new markets; high-quality business skills
and development training; and access to broader services that off-
set gender-specific constraints.


4. Global action is needed to fill knowledge gaps about both
the problems of, and the solutions to, gender inequality in the
world of work. This involves addressing data gaps in such areas as
earnings disparities, control over assets, and gender-based violence
in homes and workplaces. But it also means contributing to stron-
ger evidence on what works for increasing gender equality in the
world of work. The World Bank recently launched enGENDER
IMPACT, a gateway to its gender-related impact evaluations. This
effort complements gender innovation and evaluation initiatives
in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, and
efforts by the IFC to highlight good business practices.


noTes
1. Aguirre, D., L. Hoteit, et al. 2012. Empowering the Third Billion:
Women and the World of Work in 2012. New York: Booz & Co.


2. International Labour Office (ILO). 2010. “Women in labour mar-
kets: Measuring progress and identifying challenges.” Geneva: ILO.
http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/images/stories/contenido/pdf/Gender/WD
-Women2010_123835.pdf.


3. Marlar, J. and E. Mendes. 2013. “Globally, Men Twice as Likely as
Women to Have a Good Job.” Retrieved October 10, 2013, from http://
www.gallup.com/poll/164666/globally-men-twice-likely-women-good-job.
aspx; Clifton, J., and J. Marlar. 2011. “Worldwide, Good Jobs Linked to
Higher Wellbeing.” Retrieved June 1, 2013, from http://www.gallup.com
/poll/146639/worldwide-good-jobs-linked-higher-wellbeing.aspx.


4. Tiruneh, A., T. Tesfaye, W. Mwangi, and H. Verkuijl. 2001. Gender
Differentials in Agricultural Production and Decision-Making Among Small-
holders in Ada, Lume and Gimbichu Woredas of the Central Highlands of Ethio-
pia. El Baton, Mexico: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
(CIMMYT) and Ethiopian Research Organization (EARO).


5. Kelley, D. J., et al. 2013. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2012 Women’s
Report. http://www.gemconsortium.org/docs/2825/gem-2012-womens-report.


6. ILO. 2008. Global Wage Report 2008–09: Minimum Wages and Col-
lective Bargaining, Towards Policy Coherence. Geneva: ILO.


7. Grant Thornton. 2013. Women in senior management: Setting the stage
for growth. Washington, DC: Grant Thornton.


8. Authors’ calculations based on World Values Survey data.


9. Gender at Work team analyses of World Values Survey data.


10. Bohnet, I., van Geen A., Bazerman M. When performance trumps gender
bias: joint versus separate evaluations. Cambridge.


11. World Health Organization (WHO). 2013. Global and regional esti-
mates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate part-
ner violence and non-partner sexual violence. Geneva: WHO.


12. World Development Indicators. Countries include Afghanistan, An-
gola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote
d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali,
Niger, Pakistan, and Yemen.


13. World Bank Group. Women, Business and the Law 2014. Washington,
DC: World Bank.


14. Burde, D. and L. Linden. 2009. The effect of proximity on school
enrolment: evidence from a randomized controlled trial in Afghanistan; Ka-
zianga, H., D. Levy, et al. 2013. “The Effects of “Girl-Friendly” Schools: Ev-
idence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso.”
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5 (3): 41.


15. Levtov, R. Forthcoming. “Addressing Gender Inequalities in Curric-
ulum and Education: Review of Literature and Promising Practices.” Back-
ground paper to the World Bank’s report on Women’s Voice, Agency & Par-
ticipation. Washington, DC: World Bank.


16. Adoho, S. C., D. T. Korkoyah, et al. Forthcoming. “The Impact of
an Adolescent Girls Employment Program: The EPAG project in Liberia.”
Washington, DC: World Bank.


17. World Bank. 2013. Programmatic Concept Note: Turkey: Women’s Access
to Economic Opportunities in Turkey Trust Fund (P146215): Supplementary
Description. Washington, DC: World Bank.


18. World Bank. 2009. “Building on Tradition as the Way to Women’s Em-
powerment in Cambodia.” East Asia and Pacific Region Social Development
Notes. Washington, DC: World Bank.


19. Giles, J., et al. 2011. “The Labor Supply and Retirement Behavior of
China’s Older Workers and Elderly in Comparative Perspective.” Policy Re-
search Working Paper 5853. Washington, DC: World Bank.


20. Filho, I. E. 2012. “Household Income as a Determinant of Child Labor
and School Enrollment in Brazil: Evidence from a Social Security Reform.”
Economic Development and Cultural Change 60 (2): 399–435.; Duflo, E.
2003. “Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old‐Age Pensions and Intra-
household Allocation in South Africa.” World Bank Economic Review 17 (1):
1–25; Case, A. and A. Menendez. 2007. “Does money empower the elderly?
Evidence from the Agincourt demographic surveillance site, South Africa.”
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 35 (69 suppl.): 157–64.


21. IFC. 2013. Banking on Women: Changing the Face of the Global Econ-
omy. Washington, DC: IFC.


22. Siegel, J., L. Pyun, et al. 2013. Multinational Firms, Labor Market
Discrimination, and the Capture of Competitive Advantage by Exploiting
the Social Divide. Working Paper No. 11-011. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
Business School.


23. ManpowerGroup. 2013. 2013 Talent Shortage Survey: Research Results.
ManpowerGroup.




Engendering Jobs


introduction


ConTexT: Gender and The JoBs ChallenGe
Today, as ever, the global spotlight remains squarely on jobs. As the World De-


velopment Report 2013: Jobs1 (WDR 2013) underscores, good jobs are not just the
engine of poverty reduction or a derivative of growth—they are transformative in
and of themselves and can help drive development. Yet the challenge is daunting.
Globally, 200 million people—disproportionately youth—are unemployed and ac-
tively looking for work.2 Solving the jobs challenge is critical to achieving the World
Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.


Underlying this immense task is the challenge of equitable access to economic
opportunities. This has many aspects, including income, racial and ethnic dispari-
ties. This report focuses on one dimension of inequality that is often related to other
aspects of disadvantage. The starting point is the recognition that women are dis-
advantaged globally on virtually every indicator in the world of work3—earnings,
quality of employment, employment status, participation—and that these differ-
ences matter for development.


The global jobs challenge is also about fostering the types of jobs that add the
greatest development value. In many low-income countries, unemployment is low
but underemployment is high, and the available jobs often lack basic rights and pro-
tections, not to mention opportunities for advancement. Only about one in four
of the world’s adult population was employed full-time by an employer in 2012.4


KEy mEssAgEs


▶ Gender inequality is a major part of the global jobs challenge. Appro-
priate responses require leveling the playing field and creating the
types of jobs that can empower women.


▶ Reducing gender gaps in the world of work can yield big development
payoffs. These extend beyond benefits to the women themselves,
including spillover effects on children, enhanced poverty reduction,
catalyzing business productivity, and broader social cohesion.


▶ Policy strategies geared toward economic growth or increasing general
education levels, although necessary, are generally insufficient to close
gender gaps. Targeted, gender-specific, and multi-sectoral solutions are
also needed to respond to country-specific constraints.


▶ Connecting women’s agency with economic opportunities and taking a
lifecycle approach lead to better, more comprehensive policy actions.




6 Gender at Work


MoTivaTion: inadequaTe proGress and
Missed dividends For developMenT


Gender inequality in the world of work has been stubbornly
persistent across multiple dimensions, despite relatively large
gains in recent decades in women’s health and education.5 The
evidence presented in chapter 2 shows the persistence of these
gender disparities. For example, women’s labor force participation
has stagnated around 56 percent, and actually fell by one percent-
age point since 1990. Women remain heavily concentrated into
lower-paying jobs, including less-productive and less-profitable
entrepreneurship and farming, than men. Occupational segrega-
tion is enduring, as are wage gaps. This lack of progress in eco-
nomic opportunities is puzzling. It raises several questions, such
as: why do these gaps persist? Do gaps simply reflect differences in
free choices and preferences between women and men, or are they
better explained by market failures and formal and informal insti-
tutional biases that constrain women’s choices? Are there examples
at the policy or country levels that stand out as outliers by having
made greater progress, and what can we learn from them to en-
courage broader change? These questions are explored in chapters
3 and 4.


This inequality is costly on multiple levels. It is clear that jobs
can add value to people’s lives. They increase people’s incomes,


allowing them to purchase
the goods and services they
value; and jobs can contrib-
ute to self-esteem and happi-
ness.6 One’s ability to choose
whether to seek a paid job,
and what type of work to do,
is itself an important expres-
sion of agency (the ability to
make choices that one values
and to act on those choices).7
Jobs can also be instrumental
in fostering broader empow-
erment for women.8 They
can teach skills and change


attitudes, behaviors, and aspirations.9 Even basic informal and
self-employed jobs, such as microenterprise and casual work with-
out a contract, can advance decision-making power at home and
control over assets.10 Women’s economic empowerment is also
smart economics, as it is associated with reduced poverty, faster
growth, and better economic, health, and educational outcomes
for the next generation.11 The WDR 2013 framework for analyz-
ing “good jobs for development” helps us to understand the ways
in which greater gender equality in the world of work can drive
development (see Box 1.1).


Boosting women’s agency


Expanding agency is an important way in which jobs contrib-
ute to social cohesion.25 By definition, jobs that expand women’s


agency increase their spectrum of choices and strengthen women’s
capabilities to act on those choices. Even informal and self-em-
ployed jobs can have positive effects such as increasing aspira-
tions, household decision-making, and control over assets.26 Jobs
can also teach skills, build networks, and change attitudes and
behaviors,27 all of which can improve women’s ability to act on the
things they value in life.


Which jobs are good for women’s agency will vary. For some
women, a part-time job or small household enterprise close to home
are ideal arrangements that provide the flexibility to earn income
while tending to household responsibilities; for other women, they
represent poor sources of protection, earnings, and skills-develop-
ment and an inadequate range of options. A “good job” can also
change within a person’s lifetime. A low-wage job without fringe
benefits, for example, may be desirable as a career entry point and
opportunity to develop skills, while it may be demoralizing and
add little value beyond basic subsistence at a later stage.


Nonetheless, the fact women are disproportionately concen-
trated into jobs that offer lower earnings, fewer rights and ben-
efits, and less opportunity for skill-building and enhancement
means that women are not deriving as much agency from jobs
as men. Jobs among the working poor can even diminish agency
when they are exploitative or demeaning, because facilities are un-
safe, or because they expose workers to harassment and violence.


Catalyzing business


Companies are increasingly recognizing the business case for
investing in women’s economic inclusion.28 Gender equality in
the world of work generates a broader consumer base. Diversity
also translates to a bigger and richer talent pool for driving firm
innovation and productivity. Women can additionally bring par-
ticular strengths to firms. For instance, some research suggests that
women are generally more advanced in negotiating, empathizing,
and working behind the scenes to facilitate better cooperation in
the workplace.29


Firms can reap significant business payoffs from investments in
women and gender diversity:


◆ Women-friendly work policies have been shown to boost
firm profitability.30 Channels through which women’s partic-
ipation benefits firms include broadening the talent pool and
contributing to more diverse—and therefore more innova-
tive—exchange of ideas.31


◆ Gender diversity in senior leadership has been associated
with higher company profits.32 A 2012 Credit Suisse study
of nearly 2,400 companies across the world found that the
share prices of companies that have at least one woman on
their boards perform 26 percent better than companies that
do not. Analysts attribute the better performance of boards
with women to higher risk aversion and lower debt, which
paid off during the global economic downturn.33


◆ The International Finance Corporation (IFC) recently high-
lighted several cases in which companies profited from en-


“Happiness and equality
are related. If the husband
understands that happiness
is supporting and helping
his wife in housework and in
taking care of children, the
happiness of the family will be
reinforced.”

—Adult male, Ba Dinh district,
Hanoi, Vietnam, On Norms and
Agency




Introduction 7


Box 1.1. How gender equality in the world of work contributes to development


The extent to which gender-specific jobs strategies have de-
velopment payoffs, and the focus of those strategies, depends
on country circumstances. Broadly, the WDR 2013 defines
three areas in which jobs contribute to development: living
standards, productivity, and social cohesion. Gender equality
is important for all three.


living standards: Jobs can boost living standards through
earnings opportunities that lift people out of poverty, raise
their consumption levels, and contribute to their broader
well-being. Jobs for women can have especially positive spill-
over effects on poverty reduction through greater spending on
children’s health and education. A review of 15 studies found
that increases in women’s earnings and bargaining power typ-
ically12 translate into greater spending on, and results for, chil-
dren’s education and health.13 In India, the National Rural Em-
ployment Guarantee Scheme increased children’s—especially
girls’—time in school as a byproduct of increasing mothers’,
but not fathers’, days of employment.14 Women who migrate
for work have also been shown to send larger amounts of re-
mittances home, and over a longer time period, compared to
male migrants.15 In terms of broader well-being, research has
also found that jobs can increase women’s self-esteem.16


productivity: Low use of women’s potential resulting from
gender gaps in entrepreneurship and labor force participation
can pose sizeable drags on aggregate productivity.17 Investing
in women-owned enterprises, which are typically smaller and


more informal, can also have multiplier effects on job creation
for women. Research in India has found agglomeration effects,
with women-owned firms benefitting from lower production
costs arising from urban proximity and, in the Middle East and
North Africa, tending to hire more women.18 In Africa, non-tar-
iff barriers disproportionately push women traders and pro-
ducers into the informal economy, where a lack of access to
finance, information, and networks jeopardizes their capacity
to grow and develop businesses.19 Reducing occupational
segregation can also help drive productivity: women are less
present in many high-growth fields like science, technology,
and engineering, which are important to countries’ innova-
tion, connectedness, and competiveness in global markets.20


social cohesion: Jobs contribute to social cohesion by shap-
ing values and behaviors, and encouraging trust and civic en-
gagement. Fairness, equity, and social inclusion are elements
considered constitutive of social cohesion.21 In this sense,
gender equality is an end in itself. Further, when jobs redefine
women’s roles in society, they contribute to a new and more
inclusive sense of social cohesion. In some societies, basic
wage-earning jobs can remold women’s image and status in
society.22 In the United States, people with exposure to female
management are more likely to prefer a female boss.23 Jobs
can also expand social networks, which tend to be smaller for
women. In high-crime and conflict-affected situations, high
unemployment and underemployment among young men is
a liability for further violence and fragility.24


LIVING
STANDARDS


SOCIAL
COHESIONPRODUCTIVITY


developMenT


JoBs


Increasing
women’s


wellbeing
More equitable


norms


Closing
gender productivity


gaps in firms


Spillover effects
on children


Expanding women’s
networks


Closing
gender gaps in high-


growth jobs


Women’s
remittances
to families


Boosting rights
and agency


Increasing
women’s roles in


value chains


Source: Adapted from the WDR 2013.




8 Gender at Work


hanced measures to recruit and support women employees.
Finlays Horticulture Kenya, for instance, strengthened poli-
cies to prevent workplace harassment and introduced wom-
en’s committees to increase voice. Internal promotion of
women resulted in major savings related to advertising costs,
training and lost productivity, while gender-sensitive policies
slashed absenteeism by 75 percent. In Vietnam, Nalt Textile
reduced staff turnover by 10 percent by improving its health
programs and childcare facilities.34


Given emerging evidence on the business case, the pursuit of
gender equality by private sector firms is increasingly understood
as a win-win for women, companies, and their communities. The
payoffs imply that companies’ involvement in this agenda is about
more than philanthropy or corporate social responsibility. Por-
ter and Kramer (2011) describe investments in gender equality
as “creating shared value.” When companies help train, prepare,
and support vulnerable women and men to thrive in the world of
work, they foster a kind of economic value that can promote both
company success and social progress simultaneously.35


strengthening development


The business case applies more broadly. The ILO estimates that
almost half (48 percent) of women’s productive potential globally
is unutilized, compared to about one-fifth (22 percent) of men.36
As governments struggle to stimulate economic growth, better
utilizing this enormous pool of untapped talent is crucial. Al-
though aggregate estimates should be interpreted cautiously and
in light of their underlying assumptions, a series of studies point
to significant potential gains:


◆ Labor force participation: Booz & Company estimates that
raising female employment to male levels could have a direct
net impact on GDP of 34 percent in Egypt, 12 percent in
the United Arab Emirates, 10 percent in South Africa, and 9
percent in Japan as a result of an increased labor force.37 The
potential gains are highest where female labor force participa-
tion is relatively low and women are relatively well-educated.


◆ Entrepreneurship: Using a theoretical framework, Cuberes and
Teignier (2012) show that gender gaps in entrepreneurship38
can have significant effects on aggregate productivity and re-
source allocation. Their model predicts that these effects can
amount to an income loss (in GDP per capita) of between
4 and 7 percent across geographic regions—the highest loss
being in the Middle East and North Africa.39


◆ Farming: The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates
that developing countries could boost their agricultural out-
put between 2.5 and 4 percent by removing the constraints
that prevent equal yields of land farmed by women and men.40
World Bank research indicates that reducing time burdens on
women in Tanzania could increase cash incomes for small-
holder coffee and banana growers by 10 percent.41


The Latin America and the Caribbean region provides a com-
pelling illustration of how unleashing women’s labor-force poten-


tial can dramatically reduce poverty levels. Women’s labor force
participation in the region has risen by 35 percent since 1990
(Figure 1.1), which presents a clear outlier to the lack of progress
mentioned above: No other region has enjoyed such a steep in-
crease as this in recent decades, and increased participation rates
were highest among low-income women. In 2010, extreme pov-
erty in the region would have been 30 percent higher and average
income inequality (measured by the Gini coefficient) would have
been 28 percent higher were it not for women’s increased income
through a combination of increased labor earnings, access to pen-
sions, and labor force participation between 2000 and 2010.42
Major drivers of women’s increased labor force participation and
earnings in the region include increased investments in education
alongside the decline of fertility and delays in marriage.


Gaps do remain, including in terms of wages, occupational seg-
regation, and profitability of enterprises. Policies to expand wom-
en’s agency, develop aspirations and marketable skills, increase
time for market activities, and connect women with productive
inputs will be critical to extend progress. Nonetheless, women’s
contribution to poverty reduction in the region is a powerful illus-
tration of how gender equality in the world of work can influence
the development process.


reporT sCope, approaCh, and value added
This report was initiated as a companion to the WDR 2013 on


Jobs and builds on key findings and frameworks from both that
report and the preceding WDR 2012 on Gender Equality and
Development. 43 The value added of this report is to revisit the key
constraints to gender equality in the world of work in light of new
evidence, and go more deeply into the importance of women’s
agency for boosting their participation in the world of work (and
vice versa) using a lifecycle perspective.


Source: World Development Indicators. LAC = Latin America and the
Caribbean.


40


45


50


55


60


World LAC


20122005200019951990


w
o


m
en


in
t


h
e


w
o


rk
fo


rc
e


(%
)


year


43


49


51


55


58
57 57 57 57


55


Figure 1.1. Female labor force participation has increased
dramatically in Latin America and the Caribbean




Introduction 9


Building on the Wdr 2012 and 2013 Frameworks


The WDR 2013 framework helps us to understand how, when,
and under what circumstances jobs can boost a country’s devel-
opment prospects. It emphasizes that the types of jobs that con-
tribute most to development will depend on country context,
outlining three “pillars”—living standards, productivity, and so-
cial cohesion—for assessing the development value. It focuses on
the benefits of women’s work for living standards, drawing on the
significant body of evidence demonstrating the positive spillover
effects of women’s increased incomes, although all three pillars
have important gender dimensions.


The WDR 2012 provides a basis for analyzing the constraints to
and corresponding policy entry points to promote gender equal-
ity, including in the world of work. It emphasizes that households
do not always act as unitary decision-makers. Women’s (and
men’s) individual bargaining power is influenced by markets and
institutions. Intra-household bargaining perspectives help us to
understand why jobs for women can have especially positive de-
velopment value, and why women and girls’ lack of agency, and
therefore bargaining power, within the household can pose a bar-
rier to jobs. This report builds on this framework. As the “cogs
and wheels” image in Figure 1.2 illustrates, interactions between
markets, institutions, and households influence outcomes in eco-
nomic opportunities, endowments, and agency. As the framework
suggests, the subcomponents of equality also interact. The con-
tribution of endowments—such as education, land, and financial
capital—to economic opportunities was well established in the


WDR 2012. This report reinforces these connections and reviews
new evidence that connects agency to both endowments and eco-
nomic opportunities. The lifecycle approach helps to illustrate the
connections between agency and equality in the world of work
more fully.


sharpening the focus on equality in the world of work
through agency and the lifecycle


As well as being fundamental to human rights, key aspects of
women’s agency—such as the ability to move freely and freedom
from violence—have direct economic implications. A randomized
evaluation, for example, of ProJoven, a youth employment pro-
gram in Peru, showed that incentives to overcome constraints on
women’s time and mobility, and promoting women’s participation
in male-dominated vocations significantly improved young wom-
en’s (but not men’s) employment outcomes and reduced occupa-
tional segregation.44


An agency perspective underpins the phrase “gender equality in
the world of work.” The ability to choose whether or not to seek
paid jobs, and what type of work to do, is itself an important ex-
pression of agency.45 Agency in the world of work does not mean
that every woman, or every man, should be in paid employment
or that they should all have particular jobs. The goal is not to re-
create the male labor market with women.46 An agency perspec-
tive means that women and men enjoy an equal range of choices
in the world of work and an equal ability to act on those choices
to realize their own goals.


Figure 1.2. Gender outcomes result from interactions among markets, institutions, and households


Source: WDR 2012.


Data &
evidence


FORMAL
INSTITUTIONS


Laws, public
systems


MARKETS
Buyers and sellers
exchange goods


and services. Items
evaluated and


priced.


HOUSEHOLDS
Intra-household


bargaining


Gender Equality


INFORMAL
INSTITUTIONS


Gender roles,
norms, social


networks


ECONOMIC
OPPORTUNITIES


AGENCY ENDOWMENTS




10 Gender at Work


Our approach identifies constraints that arise at different life
stages. The patterns that foster low labor force participation, earnings
gaps, and occupational segregation begin early in life and accumulate
over time. If girls marry early and drop out of school, they will have
a harder time catching up to their male counterparts in adulthood,
even with increased access to capital or progressive labor regulations.
If social norms and educational streaming limit girls’ opportunities
and aspirations to become engineers, doctors, or business executives
early in life, then the female talent pool for these occupations will
automatically be smaller in the next generation of workers. Although
framing gender equality in the context of a lifecycle approach is not
new,47 it merits renewed attention here in light of findings related
to norms and agency. Both the agency and lifecycle perspectives
reinforce the message that overcoming gender inequality will not
result from specific, isolated programs, but from a comprehensive
approach that involves multiple sectors and stakeholders.


The rest of this chapter helps frame the need for addressing
overlapping constraints by illustrating how the fundamentals for
jobs, such as economic growth and education, are insufficient to
facilitate gender equality in the world of work. It then presents
the business and development motivation for prioritizing wom-
en’s empowerment and gender equality in the world of work.


TWo paradoxes surroundinG
equaliTy aT Work


To help illustrate the importance of a broader approach to un-
derstanding gender-specific constraints to gender equality in the
world of work, this section explores how obvious fundamentals for


jobs can be necessary but insufficient. Indeed fundamentals such
as economic growth and education can increase even as women’s
economic opportunities stagnate.


economic growth does not guarantee gender equality
Because jobs tend to improve with development, and gender in-


equality is sometimes seen as a symptom of low development, it is
sometimes assumed that policy makers should focus on economic
growth and gender equality in work will inevitably improve. Some
theoretical arguments suggest that market competition can drive
out discrimination against women by firms as it is inefficient and
hence costly.48


The WDR 2012 showed that “economic development is posi-
tively correlated with the share of female workers in wage employ-
ment and negatively correlated with the share of women in un-
paid work, self-employment, and entrepreneurship.”49 However,
the direction of cause-and-effect is difficult to untangle. As more
women enter wage jobs that are more stable and higher paying,
they can help to fuel economic growth, while growth brings more
urbanization and wage jobs that move women out of unpaid and
less productive work.


Figure 1.3 plots GDP per capita against the World Economic
Forum’s Gender Gaps in Economic Participation and Opportu-
nity subindex—a composite measure reflecting inequality in out-
comes related to labor force participation, wages, earned income,
and high-level and professional jobs (with zero representing total
inequality). A number of high-income countries, including Japan,
Kuwait and Qatar, have high gender inequality, while, at low lev-


Figure 1.3. Countries range widely in the extent of gender gaps in economic opportunities despite levels of per capita GDP


Sources: Hausmann et al. 2013 (y-axis data) and World Development Indicators (x-axis data, latest year available [2011–12]).


2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0
0.2


0.4


0.6


0.8


1.0


Ec
on


om
ic


p
ar


tic
ip


at
io


n
an


d
op


po
rt


un
ity


in
de


x
sc


or
e


(0
=


p
er


fe
ct


in
eq


ua
lit


y,
1


=
p


er
fe


ct
e


qu
al


ity
)


log of per capita GDP


Burundi
Lesotho


Bangladesh


India


Pakistan


Syria


Saudi Arabia
Iran


Jordan Turkey


Suriname


Mexico


Barbados
USA Norway


Spain


Japan Qatar


Kuwait


UAE


Switzerland


Cape Verde


Uganda


Mongolia


Ethiopia


Ukraine




Introduction 11


els of per capita GDP, the variation in the size of gender gaps is
huge. This variance is important.


Two recent global reviews investigated directions of influence be-
tween economic growth and gender equality. Duflo (2011) found
that, although economic development and women’s empowerment
are closely correlated, the connections between the two are too weak
to expect that pulling one lever will automatically pull the other.50
Kabeer and Natali (2013) found that increased gender equality, es-
pecially in education and employment status, contributes signifi-
cantly to economic growth, but that evidence on the effects of eco-
nomic growth on gender equality was less consistent.51


The type of growth matters, as do the policies (or lack thereof )
for more inclusive growth. In urbanizing countries, for instance,
women tend to benefit more from growth in light manufactur-
ing.52 In East Asia, growth in the manufacturing sector—particu-
larly in textile and food services industries—has increased women’s
wage work and improved female and child health and education
outcomes.53 At the same time, the drive for global competitiveness
reinforced occupational segregation and downward pressure on
women’s wages.54


Natural resource–driven growth has had few or mixed results for
gender equality. In Kazakhstan, a country gender assessment con-
ducted by the Asian Development Bank found that women had
benefited relatively little from robust oil-driven economic growth.
In Egypt, oil-driven and market-oriented growth starting in the
1970s and extending through the early 2000s involved transitions
to non-trade sectors (such as construction and transport) and de-
regulated private sector jobs where women faced greater barriers
to entry and higher levels of discrimination, though the expansion
of social services and public sector jobs benefited women. World
Bank analysis of labor market data from 1998 to 2006 similarly
found that growth had little impact on women’s labor force par-
ticipation in Egypt. These findings reinforce the complex relation-
ships between growth and women’s empowerment, and the need
for gender-informed growth and jobs strategies.


education does not guarantee gender equality


Education is critical for increasing girls’ opportunities. School-
ing is one of the most powerful determinants of young women’s
avoidance of early marriage and childrearing.55 Progress in school
enrollment, particularly at the primary level, has helped advance
gender equality and women’s empowerment—though gaps persist.
From 2010 to 2012 (the latest year for which data are available), 16
countries, mostly in Africa, reported fewer than nine girls enrolled
for every 10 boys in primary school.56 School progression and com-
pletion at upper levels is also problematic. Twenty-nine countries
during the same time period reported fewer than nine girls enrolled
for every 10 boys in secondary school, while 13 countries (mainly
in the Caribbean and the Middle East) have fewer boys enrolled.57


Yet schooling per se does not guarantee equality in the world of
work. As the chapters that follow show, stereotypes and stream-
ing in education can reinforce occupational segregation, and in


a range of countries, including Japan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia,
significant educational achievements have not closed significant
gender gaps in the workforce.58 In Qatar, there are more than five
women enrolled in higher education for every man, yet there are
twice as many men as women in the labor force.59


The Middle East and North Africa region illustrates how size-
able gains in girls’ education can be necessary but insufficient to
closing gender gaps in the world of work.60 Girls’ net primary
and secondary school enrollment in the region rose by 16 and 23
percentage points, respectively, over the last two decades, while
female labor force participation for the working age population
(15–64) rose by only three percentage points (Figure 1.4).61 This
is not to suggest that education is unimportant for women’s eco-
nomic opportunities. In the case of Jordan, analyses show that
women’s economic activity increases significantly with education,
particularly with university attendance.62 But the very slow prog-
ress in women’s economic activity, despite the gains in education,
reinforces the fact that other constraints are at play.


Some have argued that political commitments to invest in girls’
education were not matched by similar actions for women’s eco-
nomic empowerment.63 Norms in some cultures may see women’s
education as a valuable family resource, rather than as a means to in-
dividual economic empowerment.64 As girls transition to adulthood,
additional constraints emerge—including pressures to marry and
limits on women’s time and mobility.65 Addressing a broader range
of constraints can help to reap the full dividends of investments in
education and enable the expansion of choice and opportunities.


a noTe on Male disadvanTaGe
In some contexts, gender-informed jobs strategies appropri-


ately prioritize men’s work, along with women’s, as good for de-


Source: World Development Indicators.
p


er
ce


n
ta


g
e


0


20


40


60


80


100


20111990


female working age
labor force participation


female secondary
school enrollment


female primary
school enrollment


Figure 1.4. In the Middle East and North Africa, little
improvement in female labor force participation despite gains
in schooling




12 Gender at Work


velopment. In many high-in-
come societies, for example,
young men are more likely
than young women to be
“NEET”—not in education,
employment, or training.66
As discussed above, in high-
crime and conflict-affected
situations, higher young
males’ employment is often
requisite for security, stability,


and growth.67 Men may be hard hit by structural changes. For
example, in Europe and Central Asia, contractions in manufac-
turing sectors have had more adverse effects on men’s work than
on women’s, while recent expansion of the service industry has
increased jobs more for women.68 These examples illustrate that
there are some cases of at least short-term male disadvantage, and


it can make sense to include male-specific priorities and programs
within jobs strategies.69 Gender-informed jobs strategies require
diagnostics and priority-setting which take both sexes into ac-
count, as we suggest in chapter 4.


Broadly, however, women are much more systematically disad-
vantaged in terms of economic opportunities. Women lag on vir-
tually every measure, including labor force participation, earnings,
productivity, job quality, experience, and career mobility, among
others. We document these gaps in the next chapter. Against this
backdrop, this report focuses largely on addressing constraints to
women’s economic opportunities in increase gender equality.


ConTexT MaTTers
Ultimately, jobs priorities and actions must respond to the


circumstances faced by each region, country, and community.


Box 1.2. Regional perspectives on challenges and opportunities for gender equality at work


East Asia and the Pacific: Gender gaps have narrowed in labor
force participation, but intraregional differences remain. Al-
though female access to basic education is no longer a first-or-
der issue in most countries, gender “streaming” in education
and persistent gender stereotypes in school curricula are a
concern. Gender disparities in the ownership and control of
productive assets persist and appear to be less responsive to
economic growth than investments in human capital.


Europe and Central Asia: Whereas the contraction of the man-
ufacturing sector has had a disproportionate and adverse im-
pact on men, the growth in the service sector has opened up
relatively more opportunities for women. However, women’s
wages are much less than men’s and women participate less in
entrepreneurship. Also, a dramatically aging population means
there will be more elderly, especially women, vulnerable to old
age poverty, stretching caring needs.


Latin America and the Caribbean: Major progress has been
made in female labor force participation, thanks largely to
higher female education and lower fertility. However, conflicting
gender roles and constraints on time persist. Within countries,
poorer women face greater constraints. For example, whereas
marriage predicts lower labor force participation for low-income
women, for high-income women it predicts higher participa-
tion. Especially among women in poverty, expanding agency
can strengthen equality in economic opportunities.


Middle East and North Africa: Progress in female labor force
participation has been slow. Beyond factors that drive women’s
work worldwide, such as decreased fertility and increased ed-
ucation, rigid social norms concerning gender roles and wom-
en’s decision-making are especially influential. Occupational
segregation runs deep, for instance with women in Egypt are
more concentrated into education, agriculture, and public sec-


tor jobs. Clustering into certain degree programs at university
reflects this segregation. Well-intended subsidies have the per-
verse effect of encouraging women to stay home.


OECD: School enrollment is nearly universal in OECD coun-
tries, where education up to age 15 or 16 is generally com-
pulsory. Yet although boys are more likely to drop out of
secondary school, leaving girls increasingly better educated,
high-growth fields such as science, technology, and engineer-
ing remain male-dominated. Gender wage gaps persist, and
women are underrepresented in corporate leadership. Wider
provision of affordable childcare and family-friendly policies
that include paid paternal leave are needed to address wom-
en’s time constraints.


South Asia: Labor force participation for women is low, espe-
cially in urban areas, and women earn 20–40 percent of what
men earn, even after controlling for factors such as education
and employment type. Most rural working women are em-
ployed in traditional agriculture, and self-employed women
are more likely than men to be classified as family (rather than
own-account) enterprise workers. Women and girls remain
significantly constrained in levels of education, contributing
to occupational segregation.


Sub-Saharan Africa: Although women’s labor force participa-
tion is high in many Sub-Saharan African countries, most of
the work is subsistence-based and confined to farming and
household enterprises. Gender earnings gaps persist and are
largely explained by differences in human capital variables,
such as education, training, and experience. Women and girls
have fewer educational opportunities and more domestic re-
sponsibilities. Lack of access to infrastructure for water and
electricity compounds cultural constraints on women’s time
by adding inefficiencies to household work.


“I want to work; it is very
important in my life. I
cannot stay home watching
television.”

—Adult female, rural Morocco,
Jobs for Shared Prosperity




Introduction 13


We have distilled stylized facts, key constraints, and promising
solutions from a large body of established and emerging evidence
spanning a wide range of jobs challenges and contexts. To avoid
overgeneralization, we seek to be explicit about the context in
which evidence is cited and to recognize regional differences as
much as possible. Fuller regional perspectives on gender equal-
ity in the world of work have been captured in several recent re-
ports.70 Some highlights are summarized in Box 1.2.


noTes
1 World Bank. 2012. World Development Report 2013: Jobs. Washington,
DC: World Bank. doi: 10.1596/978-0-8213-9575-2. Henceforth WDR
2013. http://go.worldbank.org/TM7GTEB8U0.


2 Ibid., 48.


3. In line with International Labour Organization (ILO) usage, we fre-
quently use the term world of work to capture a fuller continuum of paid
and unpaid, formal and informal work that best reflects the range of people’s
economic activities—especially women’s.


4. Marlar, J. 2012. “Global Payroll to Population Employment Rate at
27% for 2011.” Retrieved June 1, 2013, from http://www.gallup.com
/poll/156944/global-payroll-population-employment-rate-2011.aspx.


5. Hausman, R., L. D. Tyson, et al. 2013. The Global Gender Gap Index
2013 Report. Davis, World Economic Forum.


6. WDR 2013.


7. Alkire, S., and R. Black. 1997. “A practical reasoning theory of de-
velopment ethhics: furthering the capabilities approach.” Journal of In-
ternational Development 9 (2): 263–79. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1328
(199703)9:2<263::aid-jid439>3.0.co;2-d; I. Robeyns, I. 2003. “Sen’s capa-
bility approach and gender inequality: selecting relevant capabilities.” Femi-
nist Economics 9 (2–3), 61–92. doi: 10.1080/1354570022000078024.


8. Speer, P. W., C.B. Jackson, and N.A. Peterson. 2001. “The Relation-
ship between Social Cohesion and Empowerment: Support and New Im-
plications for Theory.” Health Education & Behavior 28 (6): 716–32. doi:
10.1177/109019810102800605.


9. Raheim, S. and J. Bolden. 1995. “Economic Empowerment of Low-In-
come Women Through Self-Employment Programs.” Affilia 10 (2): 138–54.
doi: 10.1177/088610999501000204.


10. Kabeer, N. 2005. “Gender equality and women’s empowerment: A crit-
ical analysis of the third millennium development goal” Gender & Develop-
ment 13 (1): 13–24. doi: 10.1080/13552070512331332273.


11. World Bank. 2007. Gender Action Plan: Gender Equality as Smart Eco-
nomics. Washington DC: The World Bank.


12. It is important to distinguish the circumstances under which increased
income to women versus men translates to greater expenditures on children,
as, despite conventional wisdom, this is not universally the case. Econometric
modelling by Doepke and Tertilt suggests that female and male differences
in spending better reflect differences in constraints than in innate preferences
between women and men to invest in children. When women’s agency is
more restricted than men’s—for example, in driving, recreation, or access-
ing markets—their range of consumption choices is also more limited. The
results suggest that the impacts of women’s jobs relative to men’s on living
standards through increased investments in children will be larger in contexts
where women’s agency is more heavily constrained. As countries develop and
constraints on women diminish, spending behaviors between sexes within
households may look more similar. In assessing the impacts of gender-specific
jobs on living standards, research also needs to account for a broader range of


possible expenditures, such as a tin roof to keep rain out of the home, con-
struction of a toilet, or investment goods like business machinery or a motor-
cycle to increase access to markets. If men’s income is used disproportionately
on items such as cigarettes, alcohol, or recreation, then increased earnings
among women can have higher impacts on living standards and poverty re-
duction. In contexts, however, in which men consume greater investment
goods, the case for women’s increased earnings and expenditures having
greater effects than men’s on poverty reduction may be less clear. There is
also relatively little empirical evidence documenting differences in spending
between female-headed and male-headed households. See Doepke, M. and
M. Tertilt (2011), Does female empowerment promote economic development?
CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8441.


13. Yoong, J., et al. (2012). The impact of economic resource transfers to
women versus men: a systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science
Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.


14. Afridi, F., A. Mukhopadhyay, et al. 2012. “Female Labour Force Par-
ticipation and Child Education in India: The Effect of the National Rural
Employment Guarantee Scheme.” IZA DP No. 6593.


15. Docquier, F., B. L. Lowell, et al. 2009. “A gender assessment of highly
skilled emigration.” Population and Development Review 35(2): 297-321.


16. Elliott, M. 1996. “Impact of Work, Family, and Welfare Receipt on
Women’s Self-Esteem in Young Adulthood.” Social Psychology Quarterly
59(1): 80-95.


17. Cuberes, D. and M. Teignier. 2012. Gender gaps in the labor market and
aggregate productivity. Sheffield Economic Research Paper Series. Sheffield,
UK: University of Sheffield.


18. Ghani, E., et al. 2013. “Promoting Women’s Economic Participation
in India.” Economic Premise (World Bank) 107; Chamlou, N. 2007. The En-
vironment for Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa
Region. Washington, DC: World Bank.


19. Brenton, P., et al. 2013. Women and Trade in Africa: Realizing the Po-
tential. Washington, DC: World Bank.


20. Dahlman, C. 2007. “Technology, globalization, and international com-
petitiveness: Challenges for developing countries.” In: United Nations De-
partment of Economic and Social Affairs (ed.), Industrial Development in the
21st Century: Sustainable Development Perspectives (New York: United Na-
tions), 29-83. http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/publications/industrial_devel-
opment/full_report.pdf (27.08.2012); Dutta, S. 2011. The Global Innovation
Index, 2011: Accelerating Growth and Development. INSEAD.


21. Norton, A. and A. de Haan. 2012. “Social cohesion: theoretical debates
and practical applications with respect to jobs.” Background Paper for the
World Development Report 2013. Washington, DC: World Bank.


22. Ibid.


23. Newport, F. and J. Wilke (2013). “Americans Still Prefer a Male
Boss.”http://www.gallup.com/poll/165791/americans-prefer-male-boss
.aspx, retrieved December 8, 2013.


24. WDR 2013.


25. Norton, A. and A. de Haan. 2012. Social cohesion: theoretical debates
and practical applications with respect to jobs. Background Paper for the
World Development Report 2013. Washington, DC: World Bank.


26. Kabeer, N. (2005). Gender equality and women’s empowerment: A crit-
ical analysis of the third millennium development goal.” Gender & Develop-
ment 13 (1): 13–24. doi: 10.1080/13552070512331332273.


27. Raheim, S., and J. Bolden. 1995. “Economic Empowerment of Low-
Income Women Through Self-Employment Programs.” Affilia 10 (2): 138–
54. doi: 10.1177/088610999501000204




14 Gender at Work


28. IFC Corporate Relations. 2011. Women and Business: Drivers of De-
velopment: Telling Our Story. Vol. 5, Issue 2. http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/
connect/e6d87700484e76dda3f5af5f4fc3f18b/TOSwomen_Sep2011.pdf
?MOD=AJPERES (Accessed April 14, 2013).


29. Guy, M. E. and M. A. Newman. 2004. “Women’s Jobs, Men’s Jobs:
Sex Segregation and Emotional Labor.” Public Administration Review 64 (3):
289–98.


30. OECD. 2012. “The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empower-
ment.” Background Paper. Paris: OECD.


31. Ibid.


32. Herring, C.. 2009. “Does Diversity Pay? Race, Gender, and the Busi-
ness Case for Diversity.” American Sociological Review 74 (2): 208–24.


33. Credit Suisse. 2012. Gender diversity and corporate performance. Zurich:
Credit Suisse.


34. IFC. 2013. Investing in Women’s Employment: Good for Business, Good for
Development. Washington, DC: International Finance Corporation.


35. Porter, M. E. and M. R. Kramer. 2011. “Creating Shared Value.” Har-
vard Business Review, January 2011.


36. International Labour Office (ILO). 2010. “Women in labour markets:
Measuring progress and identifying challenges.” Geneva: ILO. http://www
.ilocarib.org.tt/images/stories/contenido/pdf/Gender/WD-Women2010
_123835.pdf.


37. Aguirre, D., L. Hoteit, et al. 2012. Empowering the Third Billion: Women
and the World of Work in 2012. New York: Booz & Co.


38. The entrepreneurship gender gap is defined as the gap between males
and females in the fraction of entrepreneurs in the working age population.


39. Cuberes, D. and M. Teignier. 2012. Gender gaps in the labor market and
aggregate productivity. Sheffield Economic Research Paper Series. Sheffield,
UK: University of Sheffield.


40. UN Food and Agriculture Organization (2011). The State of Food and
Agriculture 2010-2011. Rome: FAO.


41. World Bank. 2009. Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook. Washington, DC:
World Bank.


42. World Bank. 2012. The Effect of Women’s Economic Power in Latin Amer-
ica and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: World Bank. https://openknowledge
.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/11867/9780821397701.pdf.


43. WDR 2012 215; WDR 2013 300.


44. Ñopo, Hugo, Miguel Robles, and Jaime Saavedra. 2007. “Occupational
Training to Reduce Gender Segregation: The Impacts of ProJoven.” Research
Department Working Paper #623. Washington, DC: Inter-American Devel-
opment Bank.


45. Alkire, S., and R. Black. 1997. “A practical reasoning theory of de-
velopment ethics: furthering the capabilities approach.” Journal of In-
ternational Development 9 (2): 263–79. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1328
(199703)9:2<263::aid-jid439>3.0.co;2-d; Obeyns, I. 2003. “Sen’s capability
approach and gender inequality: selecting relevant capabilities.” Feminist Eco-
nomics 9 (2–3), 61–92. doi: 10.1080/1354570022000078024.


46. ILO 2010. Women in labor markets: Measuring progress and identifying
challenges. Geneva, ILO.


47. For example, see: UNICEF. 2007. The State of the World’s Children 2007:
Gender and the Life Cycle. New York: UNICEF; McKinsey & Company.
2010. The Business of Empowering Women. London: McKinsey & Company.


48. Naila Kabeer and Luisa Natali. 2013. “Gender Equality and Economic
Growth: Is there a Win-Win?” Working Paper 417. Brighton, UK: Institute
of Development Studies; Naila Kabeer et al. 2013. Paid Work, Women’s Em-


powerment and Inclusive Growth: Transforming the Structures of Constraint.
New York: UN Women. http://www.unwomen.org/~/media/Headquarters
/Attachments/Sections/Library/Publications/2013/1/Paid-work-womens
-empowerment-and-inclusive-growth2%20pdf.pdf.


49. World Bank. 2011. World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality
and Development (Washington, DC: World Bank), 212. http://go.world-
bank.org/CQCTMSFI40.


50. Esther Duflo. 2011. “Women’s Empowerment and Economic Devel-
opment.” Working Paper No. 17702. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of
Economic Research.


51. Naila Kabeer and Luisa Natali, “Gender Equality and Economic
Growth: Is there a Win-Win?” (Working Paper 417, Institute of Develop-
ment Studies, Brighton, UK: 2013); Naila Kabeer, et al. 2013. Paid Work,
Women’s Empowerment and Inclusive Growth: Transforming the Structures of
Constraint. New York: UN Women. http://www.unwomen.org/~/media
/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/Library/Publications/2013/1/Paid
-work-womens-empowerment-and-inclusive-growth2%20pdf.pdf.


52. WDR 2013.


53. World Bank. 2012. Toward Gender Equality in East Asia and the Pacific.
Washington, DC: World Bank.


54. Rodgers, Y. and J. E. Zveglich. 2012. “Inclusive growth and gender
inequality in Asia’s labor markets.” ADB Economics Working Paper Series
No. 321. Manila: Asian Development Bank.


55. Singh, S. and R. Samara. 1996. “Early Marriage Among Women in
Developing Countries.” International Family Planning Perspectives 22 (4):
148–175; Jain, S. and Kurz, K. (2007). New Insights on Preventing Child
Marriage: A Global Analysis of Factors and Programs. Washington, DC: Inter-
national Center for Research on Women.


56. World Development Indicators (Ratio of female to male primary enroll-
ment (%)). Countries include: Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cen-
tral African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic
of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, and Yemen.


57. World Development Indicators (Ratio of female to male secondary en-
rollment [%]). Countries with gaps disadvantaging girls include: Afghanistan,
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic,
Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea,
Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Mali, Malta, Mau-
ritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sol-
omon Islands, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and the Republic of Yemen. Countries
with gaps disadvantaging boys include: Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda,
Cape Verde, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Lebanon, Lesotho, Samoa, Sao
Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Suriname, and West Bank and Gaza.


58. Hausman, R., L. D. Tyson, et al. 2012. The Global Gender Gap Index
2012 Report. Davos: World Economic Forum.


59. World Development Indicators, 2011 data.


60. World Bank. 2013. Opening Doors: Gender Equality and Development
in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank. https://
openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/12552.


61. World Development Indicators.


62. Mryyan, N.. 2012. “Demographics, labor force participation and un-
employment in Jordan.” Working Paper No. 670. Giza, Egypt: Economic
Research Forum.


63. World Bank. 2005. The Economic Advancement of Women in Jordan:
A Country Gender Assessment. Washington, DC: World Bank.


64. Read, J. N. G. and S. Oselin. 2008. “Gender and the Education-
Employment Paradox in Ethnic and Religious Contexts: The Case of Arab
Americans.” American Sociological Review 73 (2): 296–313.




Introduction 15


65. World Bank. 2013. Opening Doors: Gender Equality and Development
in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank; World
Bank. 2005. The Economic Advancement of Women in Jordan: A Country Gen-
der Assessment. Washington, DC: World Bank.


66. The Economist. 2013. “Generation Joblessness.”


67. World Bank. 2012. Creating Jobs Good for Development: Policy Directions
from the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs. Washington, DC: World Bank.


68. Sattar, S. 2012. Opportunities for Men and Women in Emerging Eu-
rope and Central Asia. Washington, DC: World Bank.


69. Heinrich, C. J. and H. Holzer. 2010. Improving Education and Em-
ployment for Disadvantaged Young Men: Proven and Promising Strategies.
Washington, DC: Urban Institute.


70. EAP: World Bank. 2012. Toward Gender Equality in East Asia and
the Pacific. Washington, DC: World Bank. ECA: Sattar, S. 2012. Op-


portunities for Men and Women in Emerging Europe and Central Asia.
Washington, DC: World Bank; LCR: Chioda, L. 2011. Work & Fam-
ily: Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance.
Washington, DC: World Bank; World Bank. 2012. The Effect of Women’s
Economic Power in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC:
World Bank. MNA: Gatti, R., M. Morgandi, et al. 2013. Jobs for Shared
Prosperity: Time for Action in the Middle East and North Africa. Wash-
ington, DC: World Bank; World Bank. 2013. Opening Doors: Gender
Equality and Development in the Middle East and North Africa. Washing-
ton, DC: World Bank; OECD. 2012. Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now.
OECD Publishing. SAR: Nayar, R., P. Gottret, et al. 2012. More and Bet-
ter Jobs in South Asia. Washington, DC: World Bank. SSA: Arbache, J. S.,
E. Filipiak, et al. 2010. Overview: Why Study Gender Disparities in Africa’s
Labor Markets? Gender Disparities in Africa’s Labor Market. Washington,
DC: World Bank, 1–20.






stylized Facts About gender at Work


Taking stock


The gender differences in the world of work are striking, extensive and enduring.
They exist in multiple dimensions. Although the most obvious gap is in labor force
participation rates, there are other persistent gender gaps—in earnings and types of
jobs, particularly—that affect the extent to which paid work expands well-being,
agency, and future economic opportunities.


One-dimensional pictures are limited, if not misleading. Often the focus is too
narrowly on labor force participation, for example. In some of the world’s poorest
countries, such as Rwanda and Tanzania, women’s rate of labor force participation
is close to 90 percent.1 However, this does not mean that women are employed in
good jobs, farming productive crops, running profitable enterprises, or earning as
much as their male counterparts. On the contrary, much of the work done by the
world’s poor is subsistence-based, insecure, and lacking in basic protections.


Figure 2.1 illustrates the importance of a multidimensional perspective for the 10
most populous developing countries for which we have data, representing one-third
of the world’s population. In all cases, women are less likely to be in the labor force,
earn less than men, and, in all but Brazil, working women are less likely than work-
ing men to be employed in wage jobs. In Turkey, while gender wage gaps appear to
be small, there are large disparities in labor force participation and employment in
wage jobs. And a deeper analysis of Turkey’s wage differences reveals that the gap


KEy mEssAgEs


▶ Gender gaps in the world of work arise in multiple forms, including
types of jobs, firms, and farming; earnings; and rates of participation.
Diagnostics examine multiple dimensions together for a fuller picture.


▶ Women and men sort into different types of economic activity, includ-
ing different occupations, sectors, industries, and types of firms.


▶ Women consistently earn less than men, with gaps largely traced to
sorting.


▶ Women’s farming and entrepreneurship is generally less productive and
profitable than men’s because of gender differences in firm characteris-
tics and access to productive inputs rather than differences in ability.


▶ Women’s labor force participation globally has stagnated, falling
slightly from 57 percent in 1990 to 55 percent in 2012.




18 Gender at Work


widens when one controls for basic characteristics such as age,
education, and tenure.2 This underscores the importance of mul-
tidimensional appraisals of gender equality in the world of work.
Box 2.1 offers an empirical picture, highlighting some key facts
that are not widely known.


eMployMenT sTaTus and qualiTy
Women are less likely than men to have full-time wage jobs


with an employer. Women in developing countries are underrep-
resented in every type of employment and are more than twice as
likely to be out of the labor force altogether (Figure 2.2). Signif-
icant, though less extreme, gaps persist in high income countries
as well. Globally, Gallup finds that men are nearly twice as likely
as women to be in full-time employment for an employer, and
people in this type of work report the highest levels of well-being.4
These jobs are more likely to come with a higher and more de-
pendable wage, benefits, and protections. There are also regional
differences between men and women that work full time for an
employer (Figure 2.3). In the Middle East and North Africa and
South Asia for example, among the entire working age popula-
tion, men are about four times as likely as women to have full-
time jobs for an employer.5


Women’s jobs are consistently more likely than men’s to be
part-time (Figure 2.4).6 Part-time work can provide increased
flexibility and bring more women into the labor force. But it tends
to involve lower earnings, fewer benefits and protections, and less


career mobility.7 Notably, part-time work among women is high-
est in the Netherlands, who benefit from policies that extend so-
cial protection and entitlements to part-time workers.8


Gender inequality is perpetuated in the informal economy.
The informal economy includes workers in informal sectors—all
jobs in unregistered and small-scale private unincorporated en-
terprises—as well as informal jobs in formal sector firms—such
as unpaid family enterprise workers and casual, short-term, and
seasonal workers without contracts or legal status.9 Although men
outnumber women in absolute terms in the informal economy in
all regions but Sub-Saharan Africa, in developing countries work-
ing women tend to be more concentrated into informal work.10
Recent analysis of 41 developing countries with gender-disaggre-
gated data found that women were more likely than male counter-
parts to be in non-agricultural informal employment in 30 coun-
tries,11 including 56 versus 48 percent in Peru, and 62 versus 55
percent in Uganda.12


As informal workers, women generally earn less than men
and sort into different types of jobs.13 Women are particularly
concentrated into the more “invisible” activities, such as domestic
labor and unpaid work.14 Recent data indicate that over a quar-
ter (27 percent) of all female wage workers in Latin America and
the Caribbean, and 14 percent in Africa are domestic workers.15
Women represent an estimated 83 percent of domestic workers
worldwide.16 Many of these workers are not covered by labor laws,
including those guaranteeing maximum weekly working hours,
minimum wages, and maternity leave.


Figure 2.1. A multidimensional perspective to gender equality in the world of work is needed


Source: World Development Indicators and WDR 2013 statistical annex (for wage gaps, except Mexico’s, which comes from UN Statistics).


pe
rc


en
ta


ge


0


20


40


60


80


100


Gender wage gapWage and salary workersLabor force participation


TurkeyEgyptPhilippinesVietnamMexicoBangladeshPakistanBrazilIndonesiaIndia


Male(bar) Female




Taking Stock 19


Box 2.1. To better understand gender at work3


Ten global facts everyone should know


◆ Women’s labor force participation has stagnated, in fact
decreasing from 57 percent in 1990 to 55 percent in
2012.


◆ Women on average earn between 10 and 30 percent less
than working men.


◆ Women are only half as likely as men to have full-time
wage jobs for an employer.


◆ In only five of the 114 countries for which data are
available have women reached or surpassed gender
parity with men in such occupations as legislators, senior
officials, and managers; namely, Colombia, Fiji, Jamaica,
Lesotho, and the Philippines.


◆ Women spend at least twice as much time as men on
unpaid domestic work such as caring and housework.


◆ A total of 128 countries have at least one sex-based legal
differentiation, meaning women and men cannot func-
tion in the world of work in the same way; in 54 coun-
tries, women face five or more legal differences.


◆ Across developing countries, there is a nine percent-
age point gap between women and men in having an
account at a formal financial institution.


◆ More than one in three women has experienced either
physical or sexual violence by a partner or non-partner
sexual violence.


◆ In 2010–12, 42 countries reported gender gaps in sec-
ondary school enrollment rates exceeding 10 percent.


◆ One in three girls in developing countries is married
before reaching her 18th birthday.


…and some signs of progress


◆ Women’s labor force participation in Latin America and
the Caribbean rose by 33 percent since 1990.


◆ Half of the legal constraints documented in 100 coun-
tries in 1960 on access to and control over assets, ability
to sign legal documents, and fair treatment under the
constitution had been removed by 2010.


◆ Seventy-five countries have enacted domestic violence
legislation since the adoption of CEDAW in 1979.


◆ The global ratio of female to male primary education en-
rollment increased from 92 percent in 2000 to 97 percent
in 2011.


◆ The share of people agreeing that men should have the
priority over jobs fell from 48 percent in 1999–2004 to 41
percent in 2008–2012 in the 23 developed and develop-
ing countries with data.


◆ International commitments to gender equality are
increasing. The World Bank documents nearly US$31
billion of gender-informed lending in fiscal year 2013,
and, in 2011, OECD countries contributed about US$20.5
billion toward gender equality and women’s empower-
ment projects.


Figure 2.2. Women are underrepresented in every type of employment, with greater gaps in developing countries


Source: Analysis by Leora Klapper of Gallup World Poll data for 2011, population-weighted country averages.


Out of workforceUnemployedEmployed for employerSelf-employedBusiness owners


Developing countries, women Developing countries, men High-income countries, women High-income countries, men


11%
20%


8% 11%
7%


45%6%


31%


47%


14%


25%


19%


24%
16% 30%


5%


5%


6%


49%


21%




20 Gender at Work


Figure 2.3. Women are generally less likely to be full-time employed for an employer


Figure 2.4. Women’s employment is more likely to be part-time


Note: Full-time employed for an employer (% of labor force, ages 15-64)


Source: Analysis of Gallup World Poll data for 2012, population-weighted country-averages.


Source: UN Statistics Division. Accessed on September 7, 2013; statistics reflect most recent year available. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic
/products/indwm.


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an




Taking Stock 21


Women also do most of the world’s unpaid work—usually for
family enterprises, as well as in the home. It is estimated that
women account for 58 percent of all unpaid contributing family
work, and about one out of every four women in the labor force
globally is an unpaid contributing family worker –someone who
works in a market orientated business owned by a related house-
hold member but is not a partner in the business (compared to
one in ten men).17 This does not include housework and childcare,
which is mainly done by women as well. The unpaid contributing
family worker gap is largest in South Asia (51 percent of women
compared to 14 percent of men).18 Household survey data suggest
that in Latin America and the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pa-
cific, and Sub-Saharan Africa, women are about twice as likely as
men to be non-paid employees.19 Interestingly, gender wage gaps
tend to be larger in the informal than the formal sector.20 Because
the informal economy is a source of both job creation and gender
inequality in the world of work, a long-term approach in the con-
text of overall jobs creation is needed (Box 2.2).


Workers, especially women, are concentrated in farming and
self-employment in low-income countries where only 9 per-
cent of women have wage jobs, compared to 21 percent of men
(Figure 2.5). The data clearly illustrate that formal-sector jobs
strategies alone would not address the needs of the vast majority
of women and men in developing contexts.


In terms of wage employment, men tend to dominate man-
ufacturing, construction, transport and communications
whereas women are concentrated in health, social work, and
education. Differences in education, training, preferences for job
security, and the need for flexible working hours help explain this
segregation, alongside gender stereotyping. ILO analysis shows
that in both developed and developing economies women’s em-
ployment is most heavily concentrated in occupations such as
clerks and service and retail sales workers. In contrast, men’s em-
ployment dominates in crafts, trades, plant and machine opera-
tions, and managerial and legislative occupations.31


Box 2.2. gender and informality: nuanced perspectives are needed


The informal economy is an important job source for women
and men in developing countries, and a major contributor to
national economies. Estimates show that informal employ-
ment comprises one-half to three-quarters of non-agricultural
employment in developing countries.21 Yet gender gaps in
earnings and opportunities tend to be particularly stark within
the informal economy. Gender sorting into different types of
work reinforces disparities in earnings and vulnerability and
responds to multiple constraints.22 For example, women’s lack
of access to property and financial services poses barriers to
formal firm creation. Government corruption, time-intensive
bureaucracy, high tax rates, and lack of flexibility in the formal
sector can push women into the informal economy.23 Domes-
tic responsibilities and restricted mobility also limit women’s
ability to participate in higher paying activities farther from
home. Gender differences in levels of literacy, education, skills,
and aspirations further contribute to gaps.


Given women’s concentration into lower-paying and more
vulnerable work, gender-sensitive policies are often needed
to extend social protection to those in the informal econ-
omy—both to mitigate vulnerability and to ensure that safety
nets, public works, and other social services benefit vulnera-
ble women.24 Collective action plays a particularly important
role in filling voids in voice, representation, and support where
formal organizing structures and protections are otherwise
lacking.25 Groups like Women in Informal Employment Global-
izing and Organizing (WIEGO, a global action-research-policy
network), the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA, an
India-based organization of poor, self-employed women),
HomeNet Southeast Asia (a network of home-based workers),
and StreetNet International (an alliance of organizations of in-


formal vendors and hawkers) have been critical mobilizers of
rights-based action.


While movement toward formalization is one aspect of a
comprehensive jobs strategy, it is necessarily longer-term
in nature.26 Overly hasty policies toward formalization could
disproportionately affect women by reducing an accessible
source of economic opportunity without removing barriers to
entry in the formal economy.27 WIEGO suggests a comprehen-
sive four-tier approach that involves: (1) creating more jobs,
preferably formal jobs; (2) registering informal enterprises and
regulating informal jobs; (3) extending state protection (social
and legal) to the informal workforce; and (4) increasing pro-
ductivity of informal enterprises and incomes of the informal
workforce.28


In some cases, strategic investments can help women enter
the formal economy. For example, where Special Economic
Zones exist, as in Costa Rica, Egypt, and the Philippines, these
can provide women with a gateway into formal sector em-
ployment and opportunities for higher pay when they in-
clude gender-sensitive practices, such as extending health
education programs, family-friendly policies, and childcare
options.29 In other cases, initiatives create jobs for women
within the informal economy. For example, public-private
partnerships that engage non-governmental organizations
have extended opportunities through “bottom-of-the-pyr-
amid” models, which extend distribution channels through
micro-franchises selling a variety of goods, like shampoos and
SIM cards, providing jobs for very poor women in countries
like Bangladesh and Kenya, and helping companies penetrate
hard-to-reach markets.30 The partnerships help link services to
address gendered constraints and vulnerabilities.




22 Gender at Work


Women are especially underrepresented in science, technol-
ogy, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Out of 102 econ-
omies for which there are recent data, only two had at least as
many female as male graduates in engineering, manufacturing,
and construction, and only 30 (29 percent) had attained gender
parity in science in tertiary enrolment.32 Women’s share of the
information and communication technology (ICT) workforce is
less than one-third in Jordan and only around one-fifth in South
Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.33


Glass ceilings remain: at the top of the business ladder, cor-
porate boards and CEO roles are dominated by men. A range
of facts illustrates this basic point:


◆ A 2013 survey of 4,322 companies from 34 industrialized
and emerging market countries found that, in aggregate, only
11 percent of board members are women.34


◆ Among Fortune 500 companies in the United States, only
4 percent of CEOs, 14 percent of executive officers, and 17
percent of board members were female in 2012.35


◆ Our analysis of survey data from 13,000 firms in 135 coun-
tries found that fewer than one in five firms (18 percent) have
a female top manager, and only 10 percent of large firms have
female management.36 In South Asia, women manage about
one in 16 firms (Figure 2.6).37


◆ In only five of the 114 countries for which data are available
have women reached or surpassed gender parity with men in oc-
cupations as legislators, senior officials, and managers; namely,
Colombia, Fiji, Jamaica, Lesotho, and the Philippines.38


This in turn may reflect biased expectations about leadership
capacity. In 30 out of 66 developed and developing countries cov-
ered by the World Values Survey from 2005-2012, the majority
of men felt that men make better executives than women.39 While
higher percentages of men than women generally subscribe to this
belief, differences between countries tend to be larger than differ-
ences between sexes (see Figure 2.7). In other words, where biased
views against women’s leadership capabilities are strong, women
also internalize these views.


earninGs
Women consistently earn less than men and no country


has reached gender wage parity.40 While comparable data is a
challenge, the stylized fact is clear. Evidence from 83 developed
and developing countries shows that women in paid work earn
10–30 percent less than men on average.41 Another recent anal-
ysis of gender pay gaps across 43 countries estimated the average
at around 18 percent.42 Additionally, earlier progress in reducing
gender pay gaps appears to have stagnated over the last decade.43


Figure 2.5. Employment status by sex and income level


Source: International Income Distribution Database (I2D2). Unweighted country average of last available year after 2000 is based on data from 95 coun-
tries (accessed on November 1, 2013).


0


20


40


60


80


100


farmingself-employmentwage employment


FemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMale


High-income Upper middle–
income


Lower middle–
income


Low-income


pe
rc


en
ta


ge




Taking Stock 23


Figure 2.6. Women are underrepresented in firms’ top management


Figure 2.7. Country differences exceed gender differences in attitudes toward women’s leadership ability


Source: Enterprise Surveys data for 2007–12.


Note: Figures represent most recent data available for the five countries with the highest and lowest overall agreement toward the statement.


Source: World Values Surveys.


0


5


10


15


20


25


30


35


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


Sm
al


l (
5-


19
e


m
pl


oy
ee


s)


M
ed


iu
m


(2
0-


99
)


La
rg


e
(1


00
+)


East Asia &
Pacic


High-income Latin America
& Caribbean


Pe
rc


en
ta


ge
o


f
rm


s
w


ith
to


p
fe


m
al


e
m


an
ag


er


Europe &
Central Asia


Sub-Saharan
Africa


Middle East &
North Africa


South Asia


0 20 40 60 80 100


FemaleMale


Egypt (2008)


Pakistan (2012)


Iran (2007)


Mali (2007)


Jordan (2007)


United States (2011)


Canada (2006)


Switzerland (2007)


Netherlands (2012)


Sweden (2011)


Percentage who agree with the statement,
“On the whole, men make better business executives than women do”


Lo
w


es
t


M
al


e
le


ad
er


sh
ip


b
ia


s


H
ig


he
st





24 Gender at Work


Most of the pay gap in wage work is due to differing jobs
and hours. Women and men earn different wages primarily be-
cause of different types of work. The ILO, for example, docu-
ments substantial earnings differences between male-dominated
and female-dominated occupations.44 The implication is that
labor policies, such as minimum wages and anti-discrimination
regulations, may help in some cases but will not be enough to
erase gaps, and longer-term strategies are needed to reduce gender
sorting into different types of jobs and firms.


Nonetheless, women earn less than men even when controlling
for industry and occupation. In 2010, controlling for these fac-
tors, women earned 86 percent of what men earned in Chile,
69 percent in Estonia, and only 36 percent in Pakistan.45 In the
United States, full-time female secretaries earned 14 percent less
than male secretaries in 2011, and full-time first-line women re-
tail sales supervisors earned 21 percent less than men in the same
position.46


Unexplained earnings gaps are largest among part-time
workers and those with low levels of education. Analysis of
64 developing countries reveals that women in part-time work
(20 hours or fewer per week) and with low levels of education
(less than complete primary) are significantly more likely to earn
less than men with similar profiles.47 We also know that women
are heavily concentrated into part-time work and, in developing
countries, are more likely to have lower levels of education.


Women’s earnings often decline when they have children.
Across 28 developed and developing countries, 71 percent of
women under the age of 30 experienced lower earnings after
having children, compared to 43 percent of men.48 Women aged
30–39 with children are twice as likely as men with children to
have reduced earnings (88 versus 43 percent). Men of all ages
with children are more likely to have higher earnings than men
without children, which is not the case for women in any age
group.


diFFerenCes in enTrepreneurship and
FarMinG


Entrepreneurship is critical to gender at work. Micro, small,
and medium enterprises (MSMEs)49 comprise 90 percent of all
jobs in developing countries,50 and over the past decade their
growth rate in low-income countries has been triple that of MS-
MEs in high-income countries.51 Agricultural employment re-
mains the primary source of livelihood for about 38 percent of
the population in developing countries.52 Women comprise about
43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries
overall, and about half in East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.53 The
“feminization of agriculture” has been documented in develop-
ing countries as men migrate farther away and for longer for off-
farm employment while women, more constrained in terms of
time and mobility, are more likely to continue agricultural work.54
Women are generally concentrated into low levels of agricultural
value chains, performing mostly basic smallholder farming activi-


ties.55 Some key areas of female disadvantage are well established,
although data tend to be weak.


Female-owned businesses are generally smaller and employ
fewer people. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor indicates
that women are more likely than men to run single-person busi-
nesses without any employees. In Latin America and the Carib-
bean, for example, half of established businesses owned by women
have no employees, compared to 38 percent for men, and in
Sub-Saharan Africa, the respective figures are 44 and 30 percent.56
Likewise, analysis of unregistered firms across six African countries
found that women’s firms were significantly smaller than men’s.57


Female entrepreneurs in developing countries are more likely
than their male counterparts to be concentrated into small
and informal firms and retail sectors.58 Most non-agricultural
entrepreneurs in developing countries, especially women, operate
in the retail sector. Men dominate construction and business-ori-
ented services whereas women are more likely found in retail and
manufacturing (Figure 2.8). About 18 percent of non-agricultural
self-employed males work in business-oriented services, compared
to only 5 percent of females.59


Because of differences in human capital and productive
inputs, female farmers achieve lower productivity than male
farmers—20 to 30 percent less, due largely to differences in hu-
man capital and access to productive inputs.60 As a result of gen-
der-specific constraints, female farmers tend to have lower output
per unit of land and are much less likely to be active in commer-
cial farming than men.61 In western Kenya, the 23 percent gap
in yields between male- and female-headed households has been
explained largely by female-headed households having less-secure
access to land and lower levels of education.62


Note: Based on 97 developing countries.
Source: International Income Distribution Database (I2D2).


0


20


40


60


80


100


OtherServices (Community-Oriented)
Services (Business-Oriented)Retail


ConstructionManufacturingAgriculture


FemaleMale


p
er


ce
n


t


Figure 2.8. Distribution of self-employed jobs in 97 developing
countries




Taking Stock 25


When firm size, sector, and capital intensity are controlled
for, gender gaps in firm productivity diminish or disappear.63
Because women and men sort into different types of enterprises,
simply comparing productivity or profitability by gender is mis-
leading. When key firm characteristics are controlled for, Hall-
ward-Dreimeier (2013) finds that gender gaps in productivity
virtually disappear.


Women typically farm less profitable crops and smaller
plots than men. Women farm both cash and subsistence crops,
though social norms often result in men’s farming concentrating
more on the former and women’s more on the latter.64 For ex-
ample, in Ghana, cocoa is grown more by male farmers, while
cocoyam, a staple crop often consumed at home, is dispropor-
tionately grown by women.65 In all 14 countries for which there
are data, the farm sizes of male-headed households are larger
than those of female-headed households, and in some countries
the gaps are particularly wide—in Ecuador and Pakistan, for in-
stance, farms of male-headed households are more than twice as
large.66


Women entrepreneurs and farmers tend to have less ac-
cess than men to capital, financial services, equipment, land,
agricultural technologies, hired labor, and market informa-
tion.67 Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, for exam-
ple, consistently have assets of lower value than men, and yet
prospective female entrepreneurs are generally required to put
up significantly more collateral than prospective male entrepre-
neurs to access capital.68 These asset gaps are costly. According
to a recent Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, re-
ducing gender inequalities in access to productive resources and
services could produce an increase in yields on women’s farms of
between 20 percent and 30 percent, which could raise agricul-
tural output in developing countries by 2.5 percent to 4 percent
(based on data from 52 countries).69 In some countries, the gains
could be even larger. In Zambia, if women farmers had the same
capital as their male counterparts, national output could rise by
up to 15 percent.70


There are well documented disparities in access to and con-
trol of financial and physical capital—particularly credit and
land.71 For many women, this gender bias extends to non-land
assets, such as livestock—especially more valuable livestock, such
as cattle.72 Sex-disaggregated data on livestock ownership are rare73
but available data consistently shows gaps. A study of men’s and
women’s livestock ownership in Northeastern Uganda found
that 62 percent of men, compared to only 14 percent of women,
owned cattle.74


Women have less access than men to financial services. The
Global Findex database measures how people in 148 countries—
including the poor, women, and rural residents—save, borrow,
make payments, and manage risk.75 The data document signifi-
cant gender gaps:


◆ Only 47 percent of women globally have opened an account at
a formal financial institution compared to 55 percent of men.


◆ The gap is wider in developing countries—37 percent of women
compared to 46 percent of men. South Asia and the Middle
East and North Africa have the largest gender gap: women are
about 40 percent less likely than men to have a formal account.


The gender gap extends to access to credit as well (Figure 2.9).


Having an account at a formal financial institution has multi-
ple benefits in the world of work and beyond. It provides a reli-
able payment channel for employers and government programs,
it opens more opportunities for financial credit that can be used
in business start-up and growth, and it provides protection for
workers’ earnings.76 Access to finance affects both women as in-
dividuals and women-owned firms.77 The IFC (2011) estimates
that while women-owned entities represent over 30 percent of
registered businesses worldwide, on average, only 5 to 10 per-
cent of women-owned entities have access to commercial bank
loans.


Women—especially poor women—still trail men in terms
of access to information and communication technology. In
2012, 200 million fewer girls and women than boys and men were
online in developing countries, a gap of 23 percent. And this gap
is much higher in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North
Africa, and South Asia.78 Women are also less likely than men to
own or have access to a mobile phone in developing countries—
reportedly as much as 21 percent less likely.79 In India, only 44
percent of women own cell phones (compared to 66 percent of
men), and a meager 4 percent of women use the internet regularly
(compared to 9 percent of men).80


laBor ForCe parTiCipaTion
Of the roughly 3.3 billion people who are part of the global


labor force, 40 percent—1.3 billion—are women. Globally, in
2012, the labor force participation rate (ages 15–64) was 82 per-
cent for men compared to 55 percent for women.81


Women’s labor force participation has stagnated, and has
actually fallen two percentage points (to 55 percent) since
1990. While the gender gap has narrowed slightly from 27 to 26
percentage points since 1990, this is entirely due to falling male
labor force participation. Regional patterns vary: Sub-Saharan Af-
rica and Latin America and the Caribbean have seen increases in
female labor force participation, while female participation has
declined in South Asia—particularly in India, though this case is
complex.82 Further, women’s labor force participation in develop-
ing countries is often lower in urban areas. In Turkey, for example,
recent declines have been attributed largely to migration out of
rural areas—where a large share of women participate as unpaid
family workers and subsistence farmers, and where women tend
to have greater extended family networks to support childcare and
household functions.83


Gender gaps in labor force participation occur across all
regions and age groups to varying extents. In most regions,
the steepest increase in gaps occurs in the 15–24 and 25–34 age
groups, with the onset of childcare responsibilities (Figure 2.10).




26 Gender at Work


Europe and Central Asia is the exception, where the gap widens
later on. In most regions, the largest gender gaps are found after
age 55, suggesting that women leave the labor force earlier. The
largest regional gender gap in labor force participation—62 per-
centage points for the age group 35–54—is found in the Middle
East and North Africa.


All around the world women spend more time on unpaid
domestic work—that is, child and elderly care and house-
work—than men.84 Focus group discussions in 18 developing
countries found that women on average report spending about
three hours more per day on housework and childcare and about
2.5 hours less per day on market activities compared to men.85


The burden of childcare responsibilities creates a “mother-
hood penalty.”86 One study of panel data across 97 countries es-
timated that, on average, a birth reduces a woman’s labor supply
by almost two years during her reproductive years.87 The gender
differences in the effects of having children on caring responsibili-
ties and work are substantial. In Australia, for example, when men
have one child under five, their full-time employment on average
increases by about 27 percent; when women have one child under
five, their full-time employment drops by 20 percent.88


Women’s labor force participation tends to fall as country
incomes rise and some women move out of subsistence-based
agricultural work. At the same, the nature of women’s labor
force participation tends change with development. Namely,
self-employment, which in developing countries is often subsis-
tence-based, tends to decline, while the share of women in wage
work increases. Notably, the share of women as employers remains
constant with countries’ income.89


In sum, gender gaps in the world of work are both extensive and
multidimensional. These gaps reflect the persistence of gender-spe-
cific constraints across the lifecycle, which are explored in the next
chapter. The relative magnitude and importance of different dispar-
ities depends on the country context, and it is useful to compare
performance across countries. Further, while inequality in the world
of work is a global phenomenon, it is clearly more extensive in par-
ticular countries and regions. It is often helpful for policy-makers,
donors, and other stakeholders to start with an understanding of
how a particular country of concern fairs relative to others with
respect to gender equality in the world of work and more broadly.
Resource Box 2.1 summarizes common indices that capture aggre-
gate outcomes and practices related to gender equality.


Figure 2.9. Women are less likely than men to have formal accounts and credit


Note: “Formal account” data indicate responses to the query, “Do you, either by yourself or together with someone else, currently have an account at any of
the following places? Either financial institution or post office.”


Source: Gallup World Surveys.


0


20


40


60


80


100


Female


Su
b-


Sa
ha


ran
Af


ric
a


So
ut


h A
sia


Mi
dd


le
Ea


st
& N


or
th


Af
ric


a


La
tin


Am
eri


ca
&


Ca
rib


be
an


Eu
ro


pe
&


Ce
nt


ral
As


ia


Ea
st


As
ia


& P
ac


ic


Hi
gh


-in
co


me
0


4


8


12


16


20


Male


Su
b-


Sa
ha


ran
Af


ric
a


So
ut


h A
sia


Mi
dd


le
Ea


st
& N


or
th


Af
ric


a


La
tin


Am
eri


ca
&


Ca
rib


be
an


Eu
ro


pe
&


Ce
nt


ral
As


ia


Ea
st


As
ia


& P
ac


ic


Hi
gh


-in
co


me


Formal account, by gender Formal credit, by gender


Pe
rc


en
t o


f p
op


ul
at


io
n


Pe
rc


en
t o


f p
op


ul
at


io
n




Taking Stock 27


Figure 2.10. Gender gaps in labor force participation for different age groups


Note: Figures represent unweighted averages (population-weighted averages would require population sizes by age group).


Source: Team analyses of ILO KILM data (2012).


0


20


40


60


80


100


Female
Male


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


East Asia & Pacic


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


Europe & Central Asia


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


High Income


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


Middle East & North Africa


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


Sub-Saharan Africa


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


World


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


South Asia


pe
rc


en
t


0


20


40


60


80


100


65+55–6435–5425–3415–24


Latin America & Caribbean


pe
rc


en
t




28 Gender at Work


noTes
1. World Development Indicators. Washington, DC: World Bank.


2. Aktas, A. and G. Uysal. 2012. “Explaining the Gender Wage Gap in
Turkey Using the Wage Structure Survey.” BETAM Working Paper Series
#005. Istanbul, Bahçeşehir University.


3. Facts come from the following sources.


For Global Facts:
1) Team analyses of ILO data.
2) World Economic Forum. 2013. “Gender Parity Task Forces.” Re-
trieved December 1, 2013, from http://www.weforum.org/issues/
gender-parity-task-forces.
3) ILO. 2008. Global Wage Report 2008–09: Minimum Wages and Collective
Bargaining, Towards Policy Coherence. Geneva: ILO.
4) Marlar, J. and E. Mendes. 2013. “Globally, Men Twice as Likely as Women
to Have a Good Job.” Retrieved October 10, 2013, from http://www.gallup.
com/poll/164666/globally-men-twice-likely-women-good-job.aspx.
5) World Bank Group. Women, Business and the Law 2014. Washington, DC:
World Bank.
6) United Nations. The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. New York:
United Nations.
7) Team analyses of Gallup World data.


8) World Health Organization (WHO). 2013. Global and regional estimates
of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner vio-
lence and non-partner sexual violence. Geneva: WHO.
9) Team analyses of World Development Indicators data.
10) UNICEF. 2011. The State of the World’s Children 2011, Adolescence: An
Age of Opportunity. New York: UNICEF. (Figure excludes China).


For Signs of Progress:
1) Team analyses of World Development Indicators.
2) Team analyses of World Values Survey data.
3) Hallward-Driemeier, Mary, Tazeen Hasan, and Anca Bogdana Rusu
(2013). “Women’s legal rights over 50 years: progress, stagnation or re-
gression?” Policy Research working paper no. WPS 6616. Washing-
ton, DC: World Bank. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en
/2013/09/18287629/women%C2%92s-legal-rights-over-50-years-progress
-stagnation-or-regression.
4) World Bank Group “Women Business and the Law” team analyses.
5) Team analyses of World Development Indicators data.
6) World Bank. 2013. Update on implementation of the gender equality agenda
at the World Bank Group: Report to the Board. Washington, DC: World Bank;
and OECD. 2013. Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empower-
ment. Geneva: OECD.


4. Marlar, J. and E. Mendes. 2013. “Globally, Men Twice as
Likely as Women to Have a Good Job.” http://www.gallup.com/poll
/164666/globally-men-twice-likely-women-good-job.aspx;Clifton, J., and J.


Resource Box 2.1. Where do countries stand? global and regional rankings on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment


Indices can provide powerful benchmarking tools for evaluat-
ing where a particular country or region stands relative to oth-
ers, or to itself over time, on critical outcomes and practices
related to gender equality in the world of work (see notes for
Website links):


◆ Gender inequality index (UNDP): The index reflects
women’s disadvantage in three dimensions—reproduc-
tive health, empowerment and the labor market—for
as many countries as data of reasonable quality allow.
The index shows the loss in human development due to
inequality between female and male achievements in
these dimensions.90


◆ Global Gender Gap index (World Economic Forum): Intro-
duced in 2006, the index provides a framework for captur-
ing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities
around the world. The index benchmarks national gender
gaps on economic, political, education and health-based
criteria and provides country rankings that allow for com-
parison across regions and income groups and over time.91


◆ Gender equality index (European Institute for Gender
Equality): The index, specific to the European Union, is
a measurement tool that combines gender indicators,
according to a conceptual framework, into a single
summary measure. Core domains include: work, money,
knowledge, time, power, health and two satellite do-
mains (intersecting inequalities and violence).92


◆ Gender Gedi index (Global Entrepreneurship and
Development Institute): Based so far on a 17-country
pilot analysis, the index measures the development of
high-potential female entrepreneurship worldwide.93


◆ social institutions and Gender index (OECD): The
index is a measure of underlying discrimination against
women for over 100 countries. SIGI captures and quan-
tifies discriminatory social institutions—these include,
among others, early marriage, discriminatory inheritance
practices, violence against women, son bias, and restrict-
ed access to productive resources.94


◆ Weventurescope (The Economist Intelligence Unit and
the Multilateral Investment Fund): The tool assesses the
environment for supporting and growing women’s mi-
cro, small, and medium-sized businesses in Latin Amer-
ica and the Caribbean. It measures business operating
risks, access to finance, capacity and skill-building oppor-
tunities, and the presence of social services.95


◆ Women’s economic opportunity index (The Econo-
mist Intelligence Unit): The index is a pilot effort funded
by the World Bank to assess the laws, regulations,
practices, and attitudes that affect women workers
and entrepreneurs. It uses 26 indicators, selected and
validated by a panel of gender experts, to evaluate
every aspect of the economic and social value chain for
women.96




Taking Stock 29


Marlar. 2011. “Worldwide, Good Jobs Linked to Higher Wellbeing.”http://
www.gallup.com/poll/146639/worldwide-good-jobs-linked-higher-well
being.aspx.


5. Team analysis of Gallup World Poll data.


6. Gender at Work team’s calculations based on UN Statistics Division
figures accessed on September 7, 2013, available at http://unstats.un.org
/unsd/demographic/products/indwm.


7. Chioda, L. 2011. Work & Family: Latin American and Caribbean Women
in Search of a New Balance. Washington, DC: World Bank.


8. ILO. 2010. Women in labour markets: Measuring progress and identifying
challenges. Geneva: ILO.


9. ILO. 2013. “KILM 7th Edition Manuscript.” Retrieved August 15,
2013, from http://kilm.ilo.org/manuscript/kilm08.asp.


10. Charmes, J. 2012. “The Informal Economy Worldwide: Trends and Char-
acteristics.” Margin: The Journal of Applied Economic Research 6 (2): 103–32.


11. ILO. 2012. “Statistical update on employment in the informal econ-
omy.” Geneva: ILO. http://laborsta.ilo.org/applv8/data/INFORMAL
_ECONOMY/2012-06-Statistical%20update%20-%20v2.pdf.


12. Authors, based on International Labor Organisation 2009 data re-
trieved April 14, 2013, from the Key Indicators of the Labour Market (7th
Edition) database.


13. Chen, M. A. 2001. “Women and informality: A global picture, the
global movement.” SAIS Review 21 (1): 71–82.


14. Chant, S. and C. Pedwell. 2008. “Women, gender and the informal
economy: An assessment of ILO research and suggested ways forward.” Dis-
cussion Paper. Geneva: ILO.


15. ILO. 2013. Ending child labour in domestic work and protecting young
workers from abusive working conditions. Geneva: ILO. http://www.ilo.org
/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=21515.


16. ILO. 2013. Domestic workers across the world: Global and regional statis-
tics and the extent of legal protection. Geneva: ILO. http://www.ilo.org/travail
/Whatsnew/WCMS_173363/lang--en/index.htm.


17. ILO. 2010. Women in labour markets: Measuring progress and identifying
challenges. Geneva: ILO.


18. Ibid.


19. Gindling, T. H. and D. Newhouse. 2013. Self-Employment in the De-
veloping World. Background Paper for the World Development Report 2013.
Washington, DC: World Bank.


20. Chen, M. A. 2001. “Women and informality: A global picture, the
global movement.” SAIS Review, 21 (1), 71–82.


21. ILO. 2002. Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A statistical pic-
ture. Geneva: ILO; Charmes, J. 2012. “The Informal Economy Worldwide:
Trends and Characteristics.” Margin: The Journal of Applied Economic Re-
search 6 (2): 103–132.


22. Chen, M. A. 2012. “The informal economy: definitions, theories and
policies.” Working Paper No. 1. Cambridge, Mass.: Women in Informal
Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WEIGO); Ramani, S. V., A.
Thutupalli, et al. 2013. “Women entrepreneurs in the informal economy: Is
formalization the only solution for business sustainability?” UNU-MERIT
Working Paper Series. New York: United Nations University.


23. Ramani et al. 2013. “Women entrepreneurs in the informal economy.”


24. Kabeer, N. 2008. Mainstreaming Gender in Social Protection for the In-
formal Economy. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.


25. Kapoor, A. 2007. “The SEWA way: Shaping another future for infor-
mal labour.” Futures 39 (5): 554–68; Kabeer, N. 2008. Mainstreaming Gen-
der in Social Protection for the Informal Economy. London: Commonwealth
Secretariat.


26. McKenzie, D. and Y. S. Sakho. 2009. “Does it pay firms to register for
taxes? The impact of formality on firm profitability.” Policy Research Work-
ing Paper 4449. Washington, DC: World Bank; de Mel, S., D. McKenzie,
et al. 2012. The demand for, and consequences of, formalization among infor-
mal firms in Sri Lanka. Impact Evaluation Series No. 52. Washington, DC:
World Bank.


27. Ramani et al. 2013. “Women entrepreneurs in the informal economy.”


28. Chen, M. A. 2012. The informal economy: definitions, theories and
policies. Working Paper No. 1. Cambridge, Mass.: Women in Informal Em-
ployment Globalizing and Organizing (WEIGO).


29. IFC. 2011. Fostering Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Special
Economic Zones. Washington, DC: IFC.


30. Dolan, C., M. Johnstone-Louis, et al. 2012. “Shampoo, saris and SIM
cards: seeking entrepreneurial futures at the bottom of the pyramid.” Gender
& Development 20 (1): 33–47.


31. ILO. 2012. Global Employment Trends for Women. Geneva: ILO.


32. Team analyses of data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics.


33. Information and Communications Technology Association – Jordan
(int@j). 2012. ICT & ITES Industry Statistics & Yearbook. Amman, Jordan:
int@j and Ministry of Information and Communications Technology; MG
Consultants. 2010. National ICT Workforce Survey. e-Sri Lanka Development
Project, Cr : 3986-CE, ICTA/CON/QCBS/P1/248, ICT Agency of Sri
Lanka; Sanders, J. 2005. “Women and IT: Fast Facts.” Presented at Interna-
tional Symposium of Women and ICT “Women and ICT: Creating Global
Transformation,” June 2005, Baltimore, USA; Griffiths, M. and K. Moore.
2006. “Issues Raised by the WINIT Project.” In E. Trauth (ed.), Encyclopedia
of Gender and Information Technology. Hershey, Penn.: Idea Group Inc.


34. Gladman, K. and M. Lamb. 2013. GMI Ratings’ 2013 Women on
Boards Survey. GMI Ratings. http://info.gmiratings.com/Portals/30022/docs
/gmiratings_wob_042013.pdf?submissionGuid=05f4980d-638e-428a-b45c
-69517342345c.


35. Catalyst. 2013. Catalyst Pyramid: U.S. Women in Business. New York:
Catalyst.


36. Authors. Data retrieved April 14, 2013, from the Enterprise Surveys
database.


37. Ibid.


38. World Economic Forum. 2013. “Gender Parity Task Forces.” Re-
trieved December 1, 2013, from http://www.weforum.org/issues
/gender-parity-task-forces.


39. Team analysis of WVS data.


40. Hausman, R., L. D. Tyson, et al. 2012. The Global Gender Gap Index
2012 Report (Davos: World Economic Forum), 46. This statement uses ac-
tual estimated earned income figures, rather than those based on US$40,000
cut-offs.


41. ILO. 2008. Global Wage Report 2008/09: Minimum Wages and Collective
Bargaining, Towards Policy Coherence. ILO: Geneva.


42. Tijdens, K. G. and M. Van Klaveren. 2012. Frozen in time: Gender pay
gap unchanged for 10 years. Brussels: ITUC.


43. Ibid.


44. ILO. 2010. Women in labour markets: Measuring progress and identifying
challenges. Geneva: ILO.




30 Gender at Work


45. WDR 2013, 358–9. Note: Wage earnings for women relative to the
wage earnings of men having the same characteristics; as a ratio. The estimate
is based on a country-specific regression of the logarithm of monthly earn-
ings in local currency on years of education and potential years of experience
(and its square), controlling for industry, occupation, urban residence and
gender. The methodology is described by Claudio E. Montenegro and Harry
Anthony Patrinos (2012) in “Returns to Schooling around the World,” a
background paper for the World Development Report 2013. Data sources: see
table 9 in the WDR 2013, p. 379.


46. Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). 2012. Fact Sheet: The
Gender Wage Gap by Occupation. Washington, DC: IWPR.


47. Hugo Ñopo, Nancy Daza, and Johanna Ramos. 2012. “Gender earn-
ing gaps around the world: a study of 64 countries.” International Journal of
Manpower 33 (5): 464–513.


48. Tijdens, K. G. and M. Van Klaveren. 2012. Frozen in time: Gender pay
gap unchanged for 10 years. Brussels: ITUC.


49. The World Bank defines MSMEs as follows: micro: 1–9 employees,
small: 10–49 employees, and medium: 50–249 employees.


50. Page, J. and S. Söderbom. 2012. Is Small Beautiful? Small Enterprise,
Aid and Employment in Africa. UNU-WIDER.


51. Kushnir, K., M. L. Mirmulstein, et al. 2010. Micro, Small, and Me-
dium Enterprises Around the World: How Many are There, and What Af-
fects the Count? Washington, DC: World Bank and IMF.


52. World Development Indicators, Employment in agriculture (% of total
employment), 2010.


53. UN Food and Agriculture Organization (2011). The State of Food and
Agriculture 2010–2011. Rome, FAO.


54. de Schutter, O.. 2013. The Agrarian Transition and the ‘Feminization’
of Agriculture. Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue. New Haven, Conn.:
Yale University.


55. World Bank (2011). Afghanistan: Understanding Gender in Agricul-
tural Value Chains : The Cases of Grapes/Raisins, Almonds and Saffron in
Afghanistan. Washington, DC: World Bank; World Bank (2010). Liberia:
Gender-Aware Programs and Women’s Roles in Agricultural Value Chains.
Washington, DC: World Bank.


56. Kelley, D. J., et al. 2013. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s
2012 Women’s Report. http://www.gemconsortium.org/docs/2825
/gem-2012-womens-report.


57. Amin, M.. 2010. Gender and Firm Size: Evidence from Africa. Washing-
ton, DC: World Bank.


58. Hallward-Driemeier, M.. 2013. Enterprising Women: Expanding Eco-
nomic Opportunities in Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.


59. Authors’ calculations based on I2D2 data.


60. UN Food and Agriculture Organization (2011). The State of Food and
Agriculture 2010-2011. Rome: FAO.


61. Croppenstedt, A., M. Goldstein, et al. 2013. “Gender and Agriculture:
Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps.” World Bank Re-
search Observer 28 (1): 79-109.


62. Alene, A.D., et al. 2008. “Economic efficiency and supply response
of women as farm managers: comparative evidence from Western Kenya.”
World Development 36 (7): 1247–60.


63. Hallward-Driemeier, M.. 2013. Enterprising Women: Expanding Eco-
nomic Opportunities in Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.


64. Peterman, A., et al. 2011. “Understanding the Complexities Sur-
rounding Gender Differences in Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria and


Uganda.” Journal of Development Studies 47 (10): 1482–1509; Doss, C. R..
2002. “Men’s Crops? Women’s Crops? The Gender Patterns of Cropping in
Ghana.” World Development 30 (11): 1987–2000.


65. Doss, C. R.. 2002. “Men’s Crops? Women’s Crops? The Gender Pat-
terns of Cropping in Ghana.” World Development 30 (11): 1987–2000.


66. UN Food and Agriculture Organization (2011). The State of Food and
Agriculture 2010–2011. Rome, FAO.


67. Mehra, R. and M. Rojas. 2008. Women, food security and agriculture in
a global marketplace. International Center for Research on Women. http://
www.icrw.org/publications/women-food-security-and-agriculture-global
-marketplace; IFC. 2013. Assessing Private Sector Contributions to Job Creation
and Poverty Reduction. IFC Jobs Study. Washington, DC: IFC.


68. GTZ, et al. 2010. Women’s Economic Opportunities in the Formal
Private Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Focus on Entrepre-
neurship. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank.


69. UN Food and Agriculture Organization. 2011. The State of Food and
Agriculture 2010–2011. Rome: FAO.


70. World Bank. 2009. Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook. Washington, DC:
World Bank.


71. World Bank (2011). World Development Report 2012: Gender Equal-
ity and Development. Washington, DC: World Bank; ICRW. 2005. Property
Ownership for Women Enriches, Empowers and Protects: Toward Achieving the
Third Millenium Development Goal to Promote Gender Equality and Empower
Women. Washington, DC: ICRW; Doss, C., et al. Forthcoming. “Gender
inequalities in ownership and control of land in Africa: myth and reality.”


72. Oladele, O. I., and M. Monkhei. 2008. “Gender ownership patterns of
livestock in Botswana.” Livestock Research for Rural Development 20 (10).


73. World Bank et al. 2013. “What does sex-disaggregated data say about
livestock and gender in Niger?” Livestock Data Innovation in Africa Brief.
Washington, DC: World Bank.


74. Oluka, J. et al. “Small stock and women in livestock production in
the Teso Farming System region of Uganda.” Small Stock in Development.
2005: 151; Deere, C. D. and J. Twyman. 2010. “Poverty, headship, and gen-
der inequality in asset ownership in Latin America.” Working Paper #296.
East Lansing, Mich.: Center for Gender in Global Context, Michigan State
University.


75. Demirguc-Kunt, A., L. Klapper, et al. Forthcoming. “Measuring fi-
nancial inclusion: The Global Findex Database.” Brookings Papers on
Economic Activity. The database is available at: http://econ.worldbank.org
/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTRESEARCH/EXTPROGRAMS
/EXTFINRES/EXTGLOBALFIN/0,,contentMDK:23147627~pagePK
:64168176~piPK:64168140~theSitePK:8519639,00.html, accessed on Jan-
uary 20, 2014.


76. Demirguc-Kunt, A., L. Klapper, et al. 2013. Women and Financial In-
clusion. FINDEX Notes. Washington, DC: World Bank.


77. International Finance Corporation (IFC). 2011. Strengthening Access to
Finance for Women-Owned SMEs in Developing Countries. Washington, DC:
IFC.


78. Intel and Dalberg. 2012. Women and the Web. Santa Clara, Calif.: Intel
Corporation.


79. GSMA 2010. Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity. London:
GSMA.


80. Pew Research Center. Spring 2012 Survey Data from PewRe-
search Global Attitudes Project. http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/04/20
/spring-2012-survey-data.


81 World Development Indicators, accessed on January 15, 2014.




Taking Stock 31


82. Much of the recent decline in female labor force participation in India
may reflect the fact that more young women are in school. From 2005 to
2010, female labor force participation (ages 15–64) declined by 9 percent.
However, during the same time period, gross female school enrollment in-
creased by 12 percent for secondary education and by 6 percent for tertiary
education. Some research projects a substantial rebound in women’s labor
force participation in the decade ahead as dividends from increased educa-
tion begin to materialize. Nonetheless, overall labor force participation rates
would still remain low, even relative to other countries in the region. For
further analysis, see S. Bhalla and R. Kaur (2011), “Labour Force Participa-
tion of Women in India: Some Facts, Some Queries,” Asia Research Centre
Working Paper 40 (London: London School of Economics).


83. Uraz, A., M. Aran, et al. 2010. “Recent Trends in Female Labor Force
Participation in Turkey.” Working Paper No. 2. Ankara: State Planning Or-
ganization of the Republic of Turkey and World Bank.


84. United Nations. The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. New
York: United Nations.


85. WDR 2012, 221.


86. De Silva De Alwis, R. 2011. “Examining Gender Stereotypes in New
Work/Family Reconciliation Policies: The Creation of a New Paradigm for


Egalitarian Legislation.” Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy 18:305. http://
scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1190&context=djglp.


87. Bloom, D., D. Canning, G. Fink, and J. Finlay. 2009. “Fertility, female
labor force participation, and the demographic dividend.” Journal of Eco-
nomic Growth 14 (2): 79–101. doi: 10.1007/s10887-009-9039-9.


88. Australia Human Rights Commission. 2013. “Investing in Care: Rec-
ognising and Valuing Those Who Care.” Vol. 2, Technical Papers.


89. Hallward-Driemeier, M. 2013. Enterprising Women: Expanding Eco-
nomic Opportunities in Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.


90. http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/gii.


91. http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap.


92. http://eige.europa.eu/content/gender-equality-index.


93. http://www.thegedi.org/research/womens-entrepreneurship-index.


94. http://genderindex.org.


95. http://www.weventurescope.com.


96. http://www.eiu.com/site_info.asp?info_name=womens_economic
_opportunity&page=noads.






This chapter explores why gender gaps in the world of work have been so per-
sistent. More specifically, why do women and men sort into different types of jobs
(and firms) and enjoy different levels of access to key productive inputs, and why do
so many women stay out of the workforce altogether? There is no single dataset or
global study that can answer these questions conclusively, but established and new
emerging evidence casts important light.


We take as a starting point the WDR 2012 analytical framework, which empha-
sized the importance of how markets and institutions (formal and informal) inter-
act with norms and behaviors at the household level and influence outcomes for
gender equality. We elaborate on the importance of market and institutional fail-
ures. Whereas some market and institutional failures stem from overt discrimina-
tion, others result from more subtle failures to address gender-specific constraints,
which are often linked to biased norms and restricted agency. We also argue that
gender gaps in the world of work are preceded by key constraints during child and
youth years. The implication is clear: while immediate jobs crises require short-term
actions directed at the working age, effective policy strategies to close gender gaps
in the world of work must start early.


Some key definitions are in order. Social norms are widely held beliefs by a group
or society about what people should and should not do.1 They can be held at mul-


overlapping Constraints
across the lifecycle


KEy mEssAgEs


▶ Gender differences in time use, in access to productive inputs, and in
the nature and impacts of market and institutional failures are major
contributors to inequality in the world of work.


▶ A deeper understanding of informal institutions and social norms and
the limits they can place on women’s agency provides insights into how
constraints to women’s economic opportunities materialize.


▶ Constraints emerge throughout the lifecycle, and are amplified for
those facing overlapping disadvantages. These need to be addressed in
a coordinated and coherent way.


▶ Public or private sector actions that only address single constraints to
women’s jobs without accounting for different levels of agency may not
achieve optimal participation or impact.




34 Gender at Work


tiple levels, including the community, school, workplace, and na-
tion. They interact with attitudes and behaviors at the individual
and household levels. Biased gender norms are those social norms
that set different expectations on what women and men or girls
and boys can and should do, thus constraining agency. Agency is
the ability to make one’s own choices and act upon them,2 which
may be constrained by formal and informal institutions, market
failures, and practices in the household.


The biased norms and restricted agency that limit women’s
economic opportunities manifest early and can be compounded
through life. Norms and agency are mutually reinforcing. As Fig-
ure 3.1 illustrates, a deeper understanding of the connections be-
tween norms, agency, and economic opportunities across the life-
cycle sheds light on the cumulative effects of multiple constraints
that many women in poverty face. In practice, these constraints
vary in form, number, and severity across settings. By exploring


the underlying and interacting constraints that emerge through-
out women’s lives, we get a better sense of the complex processes
that have held back progress on women’s economic opportunities
for decades.


Bundled ConsTrainTs: norMs, aGenCy,
and eConoMiC opporTuniTies


While some women (and men) choose to abstain from paid
work or prefer lower paying or lower level jobs, women’s jobs are
often heavily constrained by multiple factors that run through-
out women’s lives and are closely linked to biased norms and re-
strictions on agency. Yet many take a “gender-neutral” approach,
assuming that economic opportunities are equally available to
women and men alike, thus overlooking the uneven playing
field on which people live. This section reviews some common


Figure 3.1. Biased norms and lack of agency across the lifecycle affect equality at work


Constraints on women and girls
vis-à-vis norms and agency


Consequences for
economic opportunities


Early biases and son-preferences
Child sexual abuse and maltreatment


Foundations of different aspirations, cognitive abilities
and non-cognitive functioning
Girls held back from school


Gender roles: domestic responsibilies
Early marriage and pregnancy


Less mobility
Stereotypes and biases


Lack of political and community voice
Gender-based violence in homes, schools, or public


Drop out of school earlier or attend less
Inability to participate in community activities or training
Acquire less early work experience
Educational streaming and limited aspirations
Inability to influence economic policies and institutions
Trauma impairs basic functioning and learning


Gender roles: domestic responsibilies
Legal discrimination


Workplace discriminiation
Lack of control over resources


Less mobility
Less political and workplace voice and representation


Gender-based violence in homes, workplace, or public


Lack of time for paid work and career mobility
Occupational segregation and fewer economic opportunities
Lower wages and less promotion
Fewer productive inputs for entrepreneurship and farming
Inability to travel far for work, training, or networking
Inability to influence economic policies and institutions
Trauma impairs basic functioning and productivity


Gender roles: domestic responsibilies
Retirement and pension age differences


Widows face legal discriminiation on inheritance
Gender-based violence in homes, workplace, or public


Drop out of workforce earlier
Less promotion
Less physical or financial capital for economic
opportunities and independence


Early years and
childhood


Adolescence
and youth


Productive age


Old age




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 35


constraints through the lifecycle, especially related to norms and
agency, but it is not exhaustive.


Market and institutional failures frequently limit women’s
opportunities in the world of work. Even if discrimination
is a losing proposition for businesses, other factors affect firms’
and employers’ behavior. Because employers may have imperfect
information about workers’ skills and competencies, they often
make inferences on one’s potential based on observable charac-
teristics, such as gender or race.3 In the workplace, women tend
to lose out in these inferences. People have been shown to have
a higher propensity to negatively evaluate women in a range of
areas, from auditions for orchestras to suitability for health sector
jobs predominately held by men.4 In recruitment and promotion,
a randomized experiment in the United States showed that eval-
uators were significantly more likely to rely on group stereotypes,
rather than past performance, when judging candidates separately
compared to assessments in joint evaluation.5 Similarly, neglecting
gender-specific needs can translate into service delivery failures
that disadvantage women. For example, biased rules, low female
representation among extension agents, and poor targeting con-
tributes to gender gaps in access to agricultural extension services.
Prior to recent reforms, rules for membership in farmers’ and for-
estry clubs in Kenya and India—key sources for extension and
advisory services for small farmers—allowed for only the head of
household to join, effectively excluding most women.6 Only 15
percent of extension agents globally are women; this means fewer
jobs for women in extension services and services that are poten-
tially less relevant to women, who comprise 43 percent of agricul-
tural labor force in developing countries.7 These kinds of market
and institutional failures are often reinforced by social norms and
attitudes.


Biased norms can dictate the use of time and limit aspira-
tions. Social norms influence behavior because conformity is so-
cially acceptable, whereas deviations can incur social exclusion,
ridicule, or even violence.8 This threat limits women’s agency.
Some norms, such as those related to gender roles, are rooted in
centuries of cultural heritage9 and are especially “sticky.”10 This
“stickiness” helps to explain the pervasiveness of gender inequality
in the world of work. Gender norms are passed from one genera-
tion to the next, with families, along with broader communities,
being important transmitters.11 For example, young people’s ideal
gender allocation of housework has been shown to reflect their
parents’ attitudes toward gender roles during their childhood.12
Adult men are more likely to contribute to housework if their
mothers were employed during their childhood.13


Norms are “sticky,” but they are not static. Changes can be
quite dramatic. In the United States, fewer than 20 percent of
people supported the idea of wives working if husbands could
support them in 1936, compared to more than 80 percent in
1998.14 But can policies and interventions promote change? Box
3.1 explores this question.


Women’s agency in the world of work is restricted both di-
rectly and indirectly. Their choices about whether and where to


work may be constrained. In the case of Morocco, with a female
labor force participation rate of 28 percent for young women (ages
15–24), many young women lack agency in deciding whether and
when they work: over one-third do not work primarily because
their husbands or parents will not allow them, and another third
are constrained by social norms or related domestic responsibili-
ties (Figure 3.2).27 In Mozambique and Tanzania, some husbands
and fathers actively prevent women from working in jobs where
they would interact with other men.28


Many women face the cumulative impacts of multiple dis-
advantages across the lifecycle. The reality of overlapping dis-
advantages implies that policies and programs often need to start
early and ensure the most vulnerable are included, and that co-
ordinated, multi-sectoral solutions are needed to address com-
pounding constraints.


As the Venn diagrams in Figure 3.3 illustrate, deprivations often
come in bundles for women living in developing countries. For
the three countries presented, the Dominican Republic, Ghana,
and Nigeria, we see that the
vast majority of both work-
ing and non-working women
in each sample face con-
straints—although, in these
countries, higher shares of
non-working women report
bundled constraints. For ex-
ample, 11 of 12 non-working
women in the Dominican
Republic exposed to intimate
partner violence face at least
one other constraint. Among


Source: Data from La Cava et al. (2012), Kingdom of Morocco: Promoting
Youth Opportunities and Participation (Washington, DC: World Bank),
which uses the Morocco Household and Youth Survey 2010.


Figure 3.2. Main reasons given by young women in Morocco for
not wanting to work, 2010


12%12%


23%


11%


23%


Husband won’t
allow


Parents won’t
allow


Busy at home


Other


Social norms


“When mother is absent,
I am there to take care of
everything. Women take
care of everything. The man
is the household head, but
the woman takes care of
everything.”

—Young woman, Serbia, On
Norms and Agency




36 Gender at Work


Box 3.1. Norms favor men’s economic opportunities, but can policies change them?


Gender norms favor men’s economic opportunities. Globally,
nearly four in 10 people (close to one-half in developing coun-
tries) agree that, when jobs are scarce, a man should have
more right to a job than a woman (Figure A).15 These views are
important: a study of OECD countries showed that an increase
of 10 percent in the proportion of people who think ”scarce
jobs should go to men first” reduces women’s employment
rate by 5–9 percent (Figure B).16 A study of second-generation
American women—governed by the same laws and formal
institutions—found that variation in work behavior was sig-
nificantly explained by their parents’ country of origin.17 So if
biased norms act as constraints, can they be changed, rather
than just offset?


There is disagreement regarding the extent to which policy
actions can and should change norms. Change is often grad-
ual, if not lacking or even regressive, particularly for “sticky”
norms related to gender roles in patriarchal societies.18 A re-
cent expert meeting concluded that the importance of ad-
dressing norms to influence behavior varies by topic, address-
ing norms is only one part of a comprehensive social change
agenda, and a new positive norm can be more effective than
dismantling a negative one.19 Interventions to change social
norms have grown as an area of focus, particularly in public
health.20 There is growing evidence that well-designed, par-
ticipatory programs focused on transforming gender norms


and the wider social context beyond the individual can
change men’s and boys’ attitudes toward gender roles and re-
lationships, but larger studies with longer follow-up periods
are needed.21 Toolkits designed in recent years have given
policy makers, educators, and program leaders a starting
point for developing strategies to help young people adopt
more equitable norms and attitudes.22


Well-implemented laws themselves may help foster changes.
For example, in the United States, Title IX, the 1972 legislation
ensuring equal educational opportunities for women and
girls, including in school athletics, has been largely credited
with contributing to changing, though not leveling, gender
norms in schools and colleges.23 School systems can be useful
entry points for addressing norms early. Tanzania’s national
curriculum, for instance, includes gender-related material in
its standard secondary school civics syllabus and examina-
tions.24 Participatory discussions on gender inequality in pub-
lic schools in Mumbai showed positive effects on children’s
attitudes toward gender equality.25 School systems can also
reform textbooks. Studies in several countries show textbooks
reinforcing gender stereotypes through both text and im-
ages.26 Better evaluation is needed to test innovative school-,
community-, and workplace-based interventions and to un-
derstand the long-term effects.


Source: World Values Survey data, 2005–08, and World Development Indicators for labor force participation, matching years


Figure A. Share of the population agreeing that when jobs
are scarce, a man should have more of a right to a job than a
woman


Figure B. Discriminating norms are associated with few
women working


20%
40%
60%
80%
100%


Male Female


South Asia


Middle East & North Africa


Latin America & Caribbean


Europe & Central Asia


East Asia & Pacic


World


0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
0.0


0.2


0.4


0.6


0.8


1.0


Ra
tio


, f
em


al
e


to
m


al
e


la
bo


r f
or


ce
p


ar
tic


ip
at


io
n


Believe men should have jobs priority


Azerbaijan
Burkina FasoChina


South Africa


Uganda


Dominican Republic
Mexico


Japan


USA


Denmark


Bangladesh
Malaysia Mali


Turkey


Iran


Pakistan Iraq


Egypt




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 37


Movement
47


Violence
10


Education
43


Resources
17


Without restrictions
26


Movement
52


Violence
12


Education
55


Resources
29


Without restrictions
16


Figure 3.3. Women face overlapping constraints (percentages of women facing constraints)


Source: Team analyses of DHS data.
Note: The variables are as follows, all reported by women aged 18–30: movement = lack of autonomy in visiting friends or family, education = less than sec-
ondary school education, resource = a lack of autonomy in controlling household resources, and violence = experienced intimate partner violence (physical
or sexual) within the last 12 months. Figures represent the percentage of the full sample.


20


2
15


16


3


3


31


1
1


1


0


0


44


15


2
14


18


7


5


41


1
2


0


0


1


8 5


dominican republic
Working


Working


Working


Not Working


Not Working


Not Working


Movement
53


Violence
19


Education
51


Resources
35


Without restrictions
15


Movement
62


Violence
17


Education
45


Resources
49


Without restrictions
11


14


4
12


13


9


6


52


1
3


1


1


2


67


14


5
10


6


7


11


21


2
4


0


0


3


11 11


Ghana


Movement
39


Violence
17


Education
61


Resources
55


Without restrictions
12


Movement
34


Violence
12


Education
73


Resources
70


Without restrictions
7


7


2
5


13


22


6


31


2
3


2


1


2


811


4


1
4


11


35


5


11


1
2


2


1


2


16 8


nigeria




38 Gender at Work


non-working women report-
ing restricted movement in
Ghana, 62 percent have less
than a secondary school ed-
ucation. In each case, lim-
ited control over household
resources is usually accom-
panied by multiple other
constraints. The fact that
both working and non-work-
ing women face overlapping
disadvantages reinforces the
need for policy options to ad-


dress multiple constraints that could be contributing to gender
gaps within the workforce and women’s exclusion from the labor
market altogether.


Failure to address overlapping constraints can translate to
policy failure. One of the clearest cases comes from the literature
on financial credit for impoverished women entrepreneurs. Un-
equal access to financial capital is an important wedge between
female and male entrepreneurs in developing settings.29 But is fi-
nancial capital, a key endowment, sufficient to close gender gaps
between firms? The evidence suggests not. Systematic reviews
have revealed no significant effect of microloans overall on poor
women’s business outcomes.30 A randomized trial in Ghana also
found that financial capital was not enough to grow subsistence
enterprises owned by women.31 Women who received cash grants
had greater pressures than men to share funds with others in the
family rather than invest in the business. The problem highlights
hurdles related to women’s control over resources and bargaining
power within the home. Other unobserved constraints were also
likely at play.


In contrast, the Targeted Ultra-Poor program, a successful inter-
vention run by BRAC in rural Bangladesh, combined two years
of intensive skills training and support with asset transfers (in the
form of a choice of livestock packages). The program resulted in
significant shifts for women from agricultural labor to running
small businesses and a 38 percent increase in earnings over four
years.32 This suggests that, especially for the poorest women who
experience multiple constraints, multicomponent programs and
linked services may be needed to complement financial capital or
to open up alternatives for women who would be better off in wage
jobs than entrepreneurship.


Gender disadvantage is compounded when women also ex-
perience other marginalized identities. The effect of such inter-
secting axes of exclusion is well-substantiated in Inclusion Mat-
ters.33 For example, an individual who is female, lives in poverty,
and belongs to an indigenous community is likely to face a greater
burden of overlapping disadvantages than an individual who has
only one of these characteristics. Overlapping disadvantages can
stem from personal characteristics, including gender, age, poverty,
sexual orientation, caste, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, and
life experiences, just to name a few.


For example, being young and living in a rural area significantly
decreases a woman’s likelihood of being in the labor force in the
Middle East and North Africa.34 In Guatemala, the gender gap
in illiteracy is four times higher among the indigenous popula-
tion than for the “ladino” population.35 A recent multi-country
analysis of census data in Latin American and African countries
shows that the interaction between being female and belonging
to a minority group (defined as native speakers of a minority lan-
guage within the country) has a compounding effect on educa-
tional attainment.36 This overlapping disadvantage is illustrated
with respect to primary school completion in Figure 3.4.


Poverty is perhaps one of the most pervasive axes of exclusion
that compounds gender disadvantage. Multi-country data show
gender disparities in education and health outcomes are typically
widest, and women’s control over their own income is usually low-
est, among women in the bottom quintiles of wealth and income.
There are large gender gaps, for example, in median grade attain-
ment among young people, ages 15–19, in the bottom two wealth
quintiles in Benin, The Gambia, India, and Pakistan, whereas the
gap virtually disappears in the highest quintile.37 Research in ru-
ral India has found that parents express a desire to educate their
sons and daughters equally, but opt to favor sons when resource
constraints require choices.38 In other words, while norms may
favor boys’ education in many settings, a family’s circumstances
determine whether the norm translates to outcomes. In devel-
oping countries, adolescent girls in the poorest quintiles in their
countries have marriage and birth rates approximately three times
higher than those in the richest.39 This adds layers of disadvan-
tage. Perhaps the starkest example is the exacerbation of gender
inequality in fragile and conflict-affected situations (Box 3.2).


Childhood and youTh: The sTarT oF un-
equal TraJeCTories


The child and youth years are especially critical for human tal-
ent formation through education and skills development, which
the WDR 2013 describes as fundamental to jobs. This section
looks at the drivers behind early gender gaps and biases in educa-
tion, skills, and aspirations.


Expressed preferences about work often reflect early limits
of aspirations and self-confidence. Aspirations are the hopes
and ambitions that people have of achieving something. Self-con-
fidence, or what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” involves one’s
belief in her or his ability to overcome challenges and achieve
specific tasks.48 Aspirations and a sense of efficacy are fundamen-
tal to agency,49 and research shows that they are important pre-
dictors of work-related outcomes.50 Research shows that people
struggle to attribute feminine characteristics to entrepreneurship
and achievement-related careers, and women appear to internalize
these biases in the forms of lower aspirations and confidence.51
Decades of psychological and sociological research have shown
how behaviors and aspirations are shaped by expectations and
social interactions.52 Women’s and girls’ expressed aspirations are


“Many women in Uganda are
still held back by inadequate
resources, lack of capital,
traditional and cultural norms
that dictate that we must
be submissive and act like
women.’’

—Woman fisher, Uganda,
Status of the World’s Girls 2012




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 39


Figure 3.4. Women are doubly disadvantaged by gender and ethnicity


Source: Tas et al. 2013, using data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series-International (IPUMS-I) initiative.
Note: Secondary school completion for ages 25 and above. Survey years for Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, and Sierra Leone are 2001, 2010, 2007, 2002,
and 2004, respectively.


pe
rc


en
ta


ge
c


om
pl


et
ed


p
rim


ar
y


sc
ho


ol


0


10


20


30


40


50


60


70


80


Female Male


Minority
group


Reference
group


Minority
group


Reference
group


Minority
group


Reference
group


Minority
group


Reference
group


Minority
group


Reference
group


Bolivia Mexico Peru Senegal Sierra Leone


Box 3.2. Fragility, gender, and jobs


Fragile and conflict-affected situations create severe chal-
lenges including for jobs.40 All of the fundamentals for
growth tend to suffer in this context. Where institutions
and infrastructure are weak and there are high levels of in-
security or instability, private investors may be reluctant to
do business. Disrupted education and training mean that
people’s skills in these settings are often well below their
potential. Fragility also contributes to the severity of more
gender-specific constraints. Men can be traumatized by con-
flict, unemployed, and socially excluded.41 Insecurity and
lack of infrastructure can disproportionately affect women’s
mobility. Fragility and conflict tend to worsen gender-based
violence, both in the household and as a weapon of war.42
Female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Iraq face lower
mobility and especially high vulnerability to harassment and
violence, hindering simple business transactions or building
networks.43 In Burkina Faso, Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines,
South Sudan and Zimbabwe, surveys conducted by Plan In-
ternational found that while both adolescent boys and girls
faced high dropout rates in periods of crisis, due largely to


heightened needs for children to participate in paid labor
(especially boys) or domestic work (especially girls), girls
overall were particularly vulnerable to dropping out.44 Girls
are also especially vulnerable to early and forced marriage.45


While there are no easy answers, integrated service models
that boost women’s agency and economic opportunities si-
multaneously may be especially important. A small but grow-
ing evidence base offers promising examples. For instance, a
new World Bank-supported trial in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo shows significant reductions of violence-related
trauma symptoms and significant increases in women’s earn-
ings among participants in a Village Savings and Loans Associ-
ation with an added psychosocial support component.46 Help-
ing ex-combatants, typically men, reintegrate into economic
life is also key. A current evaluation of a World Bank-supported
project in Liberia is testing the effectiveness of an integrated
model that aims to support young adult ex-combatants in re-
habilitation and employment through agricultural skills train-
ing alongside life skills training and resettlement assistance.47




40 Gender at Work


constrained by the expecta-
tions placed on them through
social norms and stereotypes
that begin early in life.53 In
India and Ethiopia, longitu-
dinal research found that girls
had lower self-efficacy and
lower educational aspirations
than boys, and that these out-
comes mirrored aspirations
by parents for their female


and male children.54 Even within the first months of life, differ-
ent biases about girls’ capabilities related to motor skills and basic
functioning have been documented.55


Many girls are still denied the basic right to learn due to
biased norms and traditional gender roles. Some 31 million
primary-aged girls and 34 million lower secondary-aged girls are
out of school.56 In Iraq, girls between the ages of 11 and 24 are
2.5 times as likely as boys to cite a lack of family interest as their
reason for dropping out.57 Son-preference in Nepal is associated
with higher female child labor and lower gender parity in educa-
tion.58 Among poor households, children may be held back from
schooling in order to work. In some cases these expectations are
stronger on boys and in other cases on girls, but both market and
domestic labor need to be taken into account. Research using
UNICEF data has suggested higher female child labor force rates
(72 percent) compared to male (64 percent) overall when both
market and domestic work are counted.59 The expectation for girls
to perform unpaid care work and domestic responsibilities is com-
pounded by the belief that girls’ education offers less value.


Biased expectations underlie educational streaming and
stereotypes, which in turn contribute to gender sorting in the
world of work. Young women and men are typically concen-
trated in the educational streams that are more associated with
social norms around “masculine” and “feminine” areas of work—
such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields
for males, and arts, humanities, and human services for females
(Figure 3.5).60 These patterns often exist despite good test per-
formance: across OECD countries, young women outperform
young men in reading and show little difference in mathematics
scores and none in science scores according to standardized tests
(see Figure 3.6).61 This streaming is costly to women themselves.


In the United States, for ex-
ample, although women rep-
resent only 24 percent of the
STEM workforce, they earn
33 percent more when they
work in these high-growth
fields.62


Nearly one in five girls
in developing countries be-
comes pregnant before her
18th birthday.64 The figure is


as high as 28 percent in West and Central Africa, 25 percent in
East and Southern Africa, and 22 percent in South Asia. Higher
birth rates are associated with a lower probability of women enter-
ing and staying in the labor market.65 In Chile, giving birth reduces
a girl’s likelihood of completing secondary school by 37 percent.66
In developing countries, adolescent pregnancy and marriage go
hand-in-hand - Some 95 percent of adolescent pregnancies occur
in developing countries, and 9 in 10 of these occur within marriage
or a union.67 One in three girls in developing countries, excluding
China, is married before her 18th birthday (about half in India and
three out of four in Niger).68 Incentives for early marriage are strong
among poor families in many cultures, including social pressure,
customary bride payments (incentivizing the bride’s family with
payments by the groom or his family), dowries (incentivizing the
husband’s family with property transferred from the bride or her
family), and the expectation that early marriage brings domestic
support to the husband’s family or sheds a perceived financial bur-
den on the bride’s family.69 In turn, these constraints erode girls’ fu-
ture economic opportunities.70 A study in Bangladesh found that a
one-year delay in marriage among girls between the ages of 11 and
16 increased their likelihood of attaining literacy by 6 percent.71


Girls’ mobility is often more restricted than boys. Reasons
vary, but often include greater domestic responsibilities that make
travel farther from home more difficult, safety concerns (harass-
ment or rape), unequal access to cars or bicycles, and cultural dis-
approval of girls’ movements.72 Weak infrastructure can compound
the problem. In Ghana and South Africa, for example, girls have re-
ported their lesser ability than boys to swim as a barrier to attending
school (paths to school often flood during rainy season).73 Mobility
barriers are exacerbated by significant distances between home and
school. A survey of schoolgirls in the Dar es Salaam area of Tanzania
indicated that 80 percent of girls had to travel one hour or longer
to get to school; 13 percent of girls reported traveling three or more
hours.74 The combination of girls’ restricted mobility, weak infra-
structure, and poor public transportation, combined with a lack of
local schooling options, adversely affect girls’ education.


Although most of the data on gender-based violence starts
with adulthood, the problem starts earlier. Trauma impairs basic
functioning and schooling is sometimes directly disrupted. Chil-
dren exposed to sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other forms
of maltreatment have shown impaired social-emotional func-
tioning and educational outcomes in adolescence, and lower job
performance, job stability, and earnings into adulthood.75 Addi-
tionally, research shows that gender-based violence en route to and
inside of schools—including by teachers—is a significant problem
in many countries, including Liberia and Malawi, for example.76


produCTive aGe: ConsTrainTs aT Work
The WDR 2012 argued that individual decisions on whether


and how to participate in market work are conditioned by gen-
der differences in (1) time-use patterns; (2) access to productive
inputs, especially land and capital; and (3) the impacts of market
and institutional failures, including legal and regulatory frame-


“Sending an older girl
to school is a wasted
opportunity. What is a girl
for if she cannot help her
mother?”

—Grandmother, Mali, Status
of the World’s Girls 2012


“I was forced to leave school
in order to get married. I
was very young then. I was
divorced after eight months of
my marriage. I wish other girls
don’t suffer like me.’’

—Adolescent girl, Sudan,
Breaking Vows




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 41


Figure 3.5. Even where gender parity is reached in higher education, segregation persists


Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.63
Note: Data represent female tertiary graduates as a percentage of all graduates in the given program.


0 20 40 60 80 100


science


social sciences, business, and law


humanities and arts


health and welfare


engineering, manufacturing,
and construction


education


agriculture


Albania 2011


Azerbaijan 2011


Chile 2010


France 2009


Lebanon 2011


Mongolia 2011


Netherlands 2010


Thailand 2010


Percentage (%) of graduates, female


Figure 3.6. There is little evidence of female underperformance in subjects often dominated by men


Source: OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 data.
Note: PISA assesses students age 15.


0


100


200


300


400


500


600


Female Male


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


Sc
ie


nc
e


M
at


he
m


at
ic


s


Re
ad


in
g


OECD
average


Brazil Russia Albania Tunisia


Non-OECD


Kazakhstan Vietnam


PI
SA


S
co


re
(m


ea
n)




42 Gender at Work


works.77 This section builds on these findings, showing how recent
research has deepened insights into both the impact of gender
norms and roles and the ways in which restrictions on women’s
agency can compound or reinforce other constraints.


Workplace norms about characteristics of an “ideal worker”
can disadvantage women and privilege men when they intersect
with gender norms. Workplace norms typically favor people who
work full-time, and often those who are accessible and working
beyond even a traditional full-time job schedule.78 They are not
compatible with the social and cultural pressures women face
with regard to domestic responsibilities. Case studies of the ICT
industry culture in India, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom
have found long hours and a “workaholic” ethic disproportion-
ately affect women’s retention and promotion.79 Similar patterns
have been identified in other professions where women are in the
minority and less likely to be promoted, including law, invest-
ment banking, and consulting in the United States.80 In these


cases, policies that increase workplace flexibility or provide more
part-time options may not overcome the barriers to women’s ca-
reer mobility unless men take on more domestic work to offset
demands on women’s time.


Norms typically impose unpaid caring and domestic respon-
sibilities on women. On Norms and Agency presents findings from
interviews with over 4,000 women, men, boys and girls from 20
countries across all regions.81 It shows that norms about women’s
roles are closely formed around household and childcare activities.
These norms influence decisions about women’s use of time and
participation in paid work. When we consider both paid jobs and
domestic activities, women are generally busier than men.82 Time
surveys from 11 cities in Sub-Saharan Africa show that women
spend more time on domestic activities than their male counter-
parts regardless of household status—head of household, wife, or
daughter.83


Figure 3.7. Gender-based time allocations have changed in industrialized countries, signaling shifting norms


Source: Gimenez-Nadal and Sevilla 2012.
Note: The charts illustrate changes in mean time allocation (hours per week) among adults (ages 21–65) from the 1970s until 1997–2005, depending on
the country.


-15


-10


-5


0


5


10


15


Female


Male


Un
ite


d K
ing


do
m


No
rw


ay


Ne
th


erl
an


ds


Fra
nc


e


Fin
lan


d


Ca
na


da


Au
str


ali
a


-15


-10


-5


0


5


10


15


-15


-10


-5


0


5


10


15


-15


-10


-5


0


5


10


15


Un
ite


d K
ing


do
m


No
rw


ay


Ne
th


erl
an


ds


Fra
nc


e


Fin
lan


d


Ca
na


da


Au
str


ali
a


Un
ite


d K
ing


do
m


No
rw


ay


Ne
th


erl
an


ds


Fra
nc


e


Fin
lan


d


Ca
na


da


Au
str


ali
a


Un
ite


d K
ing


do
m


No
rw


ay


Ne
th


erl
an


ds


Fra
nc


e


Fin
lan


d


Ca
na


da


Au
str


ali
a


Ch
an


ge
in


ti
m


e
al


lo
ca


tio
n


(h
ou


rs
)


Ch
an


ge
in


ti
m


e
al


lo
ca


tio
n


(h
ou


rs
)


Ch
an


ge
in


ti
m


e
al


lo
ca


tio
n


(h
ou


rs
)


Ch
an


ge
in


ti
m


e
al


lo
ca


tio
n


(h
ou


rs
)


Paid Work


Childcare Leisure


Unpaid Work




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 43


Evidence from high-income countries shows that women’s and
men’s time allocations can and do change (Figure 3.7).84 Women in
industrial countries have increased the amount of time devoted to
paid work and reduced time doing unpaid work (such as household
chores, meal preparation, and home maintenance), while men have
shown reverse trends. Both women and men have increased time
devoted to childcare, although to a larger extent among women.
This could reflect a combination of more flexible work options
(through paid maternity leave and part-time work, for example)
and increased awareness in high-income countries of the impor-
tance of time devoted to positive parent-child interactions for child
development. Nonetheless, women’s increased paid work time is
clearly enabled by reductions in unpaid work time—thanks, in
part, to men’s increased domestic role sharing as well as labor-saving
technological changes. Qualitative and intergenerational evidence
suggests that these changes are taking place in developing countries
too, but they are much less tractable in societies with very tradi-
tional gender norms.85 A combination of policies is needed to help
facilitate change. These will be reviewed in the next chapter.


Elderly care demands placed on daughters, daughters-in-law,
and granddaughters are increasing. A survey in Australia found
that, up to age 25, women have greater caring responsibilities
for the sick, disabled, and elderly than for children.86 This bur-
den is increasing as life expectancies rise and fertility rates fall. A
survey of women with higher education in Brazil, Russia, India,
and China found that 69, 78, 94, and 95 percent of respondents,
respectively, had elder care responsibilities.87 The elderly demo-
graphic is rapidly growing.88 In developing countries, the child
dependency ratio is projected to fall by 20 percent from 2010 to
2050 whereas the old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase
by 144 percent over the same period (Figure 3.8). Several East


Asian countries with low fertility rates are facing especially big
challenges on this front. In China, by 2050 the ratio of elderly
dependents will be more than triple the ratio of child dependents
(66 percent versus 18 percent).89 More innovation and research is
needed to inform effective and appropriate alternative elderly care
programs in developing countries.


In many countries, women legally do not have the same rights
as men, which codifies bias and stereotypes and condones dis-
criminatory behaviors. As the World Bank and IFC’s 2014 study
Women, Business and the Law (WBL) outlines, legal barriers to
women’s economic opportunities take many forms. They can limit
women’s economic opportunities, for example, by restricting their
ability to access institutions, own or use property, build credit, or
get a job. The WBL study assessed legal gender differentiations in
47 specific aspects across seven domains: accessing institutions, us-
ing property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building
credit, going to court, and protecting women from violence.90


Of the 143 economies studied in 2013, 128 had at least one legal
differentiation. In many economies, women face the cumulative
effects of multiple legal constraints. Women are disadvantaged by
five or more legal differentiations in 54 economies and, in half of
those, there are 10 or more legal differences. Discrimination is the
most common in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia,
and Sub-Saharan Africa (Figure 3.9). In six economies, women
and men do not have equal property ownership rights; in 26,
daughters and wives do not enjoy the same rights to inheritance
as sons and husbands, and women do not enjoy the same rights to
land or inheritance as men.


In economies with higher numbers of legal gender differentia-
tions, women are less likely to participate in the labor force, own
businesses, or serve in management.91 While national income per
capita appears to have no effect on the share of employers who
are female, countries with more gaps in women’s economic rights
had lower rates of female employers.92 Additionally, multi-country
analyses suggest that laws constraining women’s working hours or
types of employment—which exist today in about 75 countries,
including Costa Rica, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates93—
limit employment opportunities and significantly increase gender
wage gaps.94


The good news is that progress is evident. Half of the legal con-
straints documented in 100 countries in 1960—on gender equal
access to and control over assets, ability to sign legal documents,
and fair treatment under the constitution—had been removed
by 2010.95 East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Ca-
ribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa (which began with the highest
numbers of legal differences) have all slashed the number of dis-
criminatory laws by more than half. Globally, the overall trend
is toward reform of discriminatory laws, but advances need to
accelerate.


When women have less mobility outside their homes, this
means less ability to seek training and support services, less free-
dom in employment choices, and more confined access to markets


Source: UN World Population Prospects data.
Note: Data are for less developed regions, ratio of children (< age 15) and
elderly (> age 64) per 100 persons aged 15–64.


Figure 3.8. The share of elderly people is growing rapidly in
developing countries


0


10


20


30


40


50


Old-age dependency ratio Child dependency ratio


206020502040203020202010


Pe
rc


en
ta


ge
(%


)


year


9
11


15


19


35 34


26


44
41


38
36


22




44 Gender at Work


and resources. In Sri Lanka, for example, women entrepreneurs
are more likely than men to run businesses from their homes and
have a higher proportion of customers who live within one ki-
lometer of their location.96 There have been improvements over
time, but many women lack a say in their basic movement in
many countries, including Bangladesh (37 percent in 2011), the
Democratic Republic of Congo (53 percent in 2007), Mali (67
percent in 2006), and Uganda (40 percent in 2011).97


Restrictions on women’s mobility can limit opportunities
to build networks.98 Healthy social networks can provide added
social protection in tough times, and they can expand one’s aspira-
tions and economic opportunities.99 Research by the OECD finds


that people with more-exten-
sive social networks tend to
have higher likelihood of em-
ployment.100 In Vietnam, 38
percent of women business
owners felt that their ability
to network and form mento-
ring relationships was more
challenging because they
were female, compared to 14
percent who perceived it as


easier.101 In the United States, the quality and diversity of women’s
networks has been shown to predict labor force participation.102
More heterogeneous social networks can increase labor force par-
ticipation, entrepreneurial intentions, and access to valuable in-
formation, trade channels, technology, and capital.103 Yet women
tend to have more homogenous networks than men.104 Analysis
of 67 developed and developing countries show that women are
less likely than men to know an entrepreneur.105 At the same time,
personally knowing an entrepreneur significantly increased the
likelihood, for both women and men, of becoming an entrepre-
neur.106 In Zimbabwe, women’s poorer access to social networks
has adversely affected rural non-farm enterprise development and
start-up, leaving them more reliant on non-governmental organi-
zations for capital. 107


Women remain highly underrepresented around the world
in policymaking. In 2012, women represented 21 percent of
members of parliament worldwide (ranging from 13 percent on
average in the Pacific to 42 percent in the Nordic countries),108 a
minority of local councilors in all but four countries for which
there are 2003–2008 data (Belarus, Costa Rica, Republic of Mol-
dova, and Ukraine), no more than one-fifth of mayors in 73 of 77
countries for which there are 2003–2008 data, and a minority of
judges in all regions but Eastern Europe.109


Figure 3.9. Percentage of countries with different numbers of sex-based legal differentiations by regions, and regional average
numbers of legal differentiations


Source: Women, Business and the Law team analyses of WBL 2014 data.


0


10


20


30


40


50


60


70


80


90


100


≥ 105 ≤ # <103 ≤ # < 50 < # < 30


Sub-Saharan
Africa


South AsiaMiddle East
& North Africa


Latin America
& Caribbean


High-income:
OECD


Europe
& Central Asia


East Asia
& Pacic


Pe
rc


en
ta


ge


Average


Number of legal dierentiations:


6 4 2 3 18 10 7


“Distance does not play a
role in finding a job for men,
because they can travel if they
want. It does play a role for a
woman.”

—Young woman, Yemen,
Opening Doors




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 45


This is relevant to gender equality in the world of work for at
least two reasons. First, increased gender equality in voice and
meaningful political participation can increase the likelihood that
policies and decisions will advance gender equality in the world
of work. For example, a randomized experiment in India found
that village councils for which women were elected to the head
role were more likely to invest in infrastructure that empowered
women.110 An analysis of 19 industrialized democracies from
1970 to 2000 found that women’s parliamentary presence signifi-
cantly influenced the adoption and scope of maternity and child-
care leave policies.111


Second, emerging evidence shows that exposure to women’s
leadership affects aspirations and stereotypes. Exploiting ran-
dom assignment of quotas for female representation in village
councils across India, Beaman and colleagues found that higher
female leadership led to significant increases in adolescent girls’
educational and career aspirations.112 Education gender gaps were
erased and girls spent less time on domestic responsibilities. In a
similar vein, a World Bank study found that increased participa-
tion by women in state-level government with the help of political
reservations (reserved seats in legislatures) significantly increased
women’s business start-up.113


Perhaps the most tragic and fundamental affront to wom-
en’s basic freedoms is violence. Gender-based violence confronts
women across the world, without cultural or economic boundaries.
A recent World Health Organization study documents that over
35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical
or sexual partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.114 That
is about 938 million women—more than the number of under-
nourished people in the world (868 million) and about the same
as the number of people living in Africa. Gender-based violence
takes many forms throughout the lifecycle—including psycho-
logical, physical, sexual, and economic forms of violence—and
occurs in multiple settings, including at home, in school, at the
workplace, and in public spaces.


Although gender-based violence has long been recognized as a
human rights issue, the repercussions for economic opportuni-
ties also need to be recognized.115 For example, women exposed
to partner violence in countries such as Tanzania and Vietnam
have shown higher work absenteeism, lower productivity, and
lower earnings than similar women who are not. Notably, even
male perpetrators of partner violence in Vietnam had higher work
absenteeism following a violent episode.116 A meta-analysis of 41
studies showed negative impacts of sexual harassment on multi-
ple aspects of women’s well-being and job performance and sat-
isfaction.117 Women in particular jobs and settings are especially
vulnerable to abuse and harassment. For example, recent research
in the Great Lakes region of Africa found high levels of exposure
to gender-based violence among women traders at the borders.118


Broader repercussions for business and development can fol-
low. A study in Peru found significant costs of domestic vio-
lence to companies through worker absenteeism, amounting to
an estimated aggregate national cost to firms equivalent to 3.7


percent of GDP.119 Conser-
vative estimates of economic
costs of lost productivity due
to domestic violence range
between 1.2 percent of GDP
in Tanzania and 2 percent
of GDP in Chile120—about
what most governments
spend on primary education
(1.5 percent).121 Notably,
those figures do not include costs associated with long-term emo-
tional impact and second-generation consequences. One recent
study in the United Kingdom estimates the costs of domestic vi-
olence linked to loss of life satisfaction at 10 percent of GDP.122


Women’s work and increased income may or may not reduce
their exposure to gender-based violence.123 In Bangladesh and
Tanzania, for example, analyses find a positive correlation be-
tween work and domestic vi-
olence.124 This effect is worse
among women who enter
work with low education or
who married young. One ex-
planation is that as women’s
bargaining power increases
and men’s household power
or perceived role as primary
provider is challenged, men
may lash out and assert power
and control through other
means—namely, violence.125
Another possibility is that
lower-status women who ex-
perience higher levels of violence to begin with are more likely
to enter the labor force in order to flee abuse. Women who enter
the labor force with relatively high bargaining power and stronger
ability to leave an abusive relationship would not be expected to
experience higher violence with increased income.126


The findings reinforce the value of addressing women’s eco-
nomic opportunities and agency in a more coordinated way. This
starts with strong laws that address gender-based violence in all of
its spheres. Existing laws are often poorly enforced and can ignore
important forms of violence, such as marital rape.127 As discussed
in chapter 4, however, investments in good implementation of
laws, interventions for prevention, and services for survivors are
at least as important.


elderly years: The CulMinaTion oF liFe-
lonG disadvanTaGe


In elderly years, women face the cumulative effects of constraints
throughout their lives, including lower education and skills devel-
opment, fewer economic opportunities, exposure to gender-based
violence, and fewer rights to land and other productive inputs.


“[W]omen are harassed in all
sorts of ways; wife-battering
is quite common, too....There’s
no one to advise them, no one
to turn to if they’re abused.
The police won’t even show
up if you report a husband’s
beating his wife.”

—Older woman in
Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria, Voices
of the Poor: From Many Lands


“There cannot be any equality
between a man and a woman
because men make all the
decisions.”

—Adult male, Levuka, Fiji, On
Norms and Agency




46 Gender at Work


Additionally, caring responsibilities often fall on able elder women
while younger women in the household increasingly enter the la-
bor force or migrate for work. The effects of gender discrimination
in inheritance laws are also amplified in elder years when women
are more likely to be widowed.128 Some added forms of discrimi-
nation, such as in retirement regulations, may also apply.


In old age, women face the double impact of norms and atti-
tudes that embody both sexism and ageism. Numerous studies
have documented the prevalence of stereotypes of older workers
as less able, less motivated, and less productive, despite evidence
that performance often improves with age and that there are much
greater differences within rather than between age groups.129 Ad-
ditionally, norms related to gender roles that constrain time con-
tinue to affect women’s work into old-age. As higher numbers of
younger women enter the labor force and migrate for work, older
women are expected to pick up the unmet childcare and other
domestic responsibilities.130


Statutory differences in retirement and pension ages remain
in 49 countries.131 In Vietnam, different statutory retirement ages
for women and men (55 versus 60, respectively) mean women are
commonly overlooked for promotions or career development op-
portunities.132 In China, analysis has found that mandatory earlier
retirement causes early labor force withdrawal of urban women.133
This disadvantage is compounded by the fact that many women
miss years of work, and thus career advancement opportunities,
due to childrearing and other domestic responsibilities. Reform
strategies for retirement and pension laws need to consider ap-
propriate transition timing and sequencing of reforms, address
the concerns of private sector actors who may prefer earlier retire-
ment ages to create space for newer talent, protect ill and disabled


women workers, and mitigate potential tradeoffs for alleviating
youth unemployment by extending women’s retirement ages.134


Cumulative constraints in the world of work tend to leave
women less independent in old age. The combination of old age
and poverty imposes hardships regardless of one’s sex. The gender
aspects of disadvantage are complex and not always biased in one
direction.135 However, due to overlapping constraints resulting in
fewer years of work, and different types of work, women are less
likely to have accumulated savings and social security entitlements
for their pension age.136 Across seven Asian countries, for example,
older women in every country were less likely than older men
to have received work-related pensions.137 In low- and middle-in-
come countries, women on average work 40–60 percent as many
years as men.138 This disadvantage translates to significant barri-
ers to women’s independence in old age. A 2004 survey in India
found that over 80 percent of elderly women (aged 60 and above),
compared with less than half of elderly men, are economically de-
pendent on others for basic daily needs (Figure 3.10).139


As this chapter has illustrated, persistent gender gaps in the
world of work can be explained by the multiple constraints that
occur not only in productive age but throughout the lifecycle.
These constraints need to be identified (see Resource Box 3.1 for
useful data sources) and tackled effectively with strategic policy
actions and private sector leadership. This is the focus of the next
chapter.


noTes
1. L. Bierman and R. Gely. 2004. “‘Love, Sex and Politics? Sure. Salary?
No Way’: Workplace Social Norms and the Law.” Berkeley Journal of Employ-
ment and Labor Law 25 (1): 167.


2. WDR 2012.


3. Aigner, D.J. and G.G. Cain. 1977. “Statistical Theories of Discrimina-
tion in Labor Markets.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 30 (2), 175.


4. Goldin, C. and C. Rouse. 1997. “Orchestrating impartiality: The im-
pact of ‘blind’ auditions on female musicians.” American Economic Review 90
(4), 715-741.; Isaac, C. et al., “Interventions that affect gender bias in hiring:
A systematic review.” Academic Medicine 84 (10): 1140-1146.


5. Bohnet, I. et al. 2012. “When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint
versus Separate Evaluation.” Working Paper 12-083, Cambridge, MA: Har-
vard Business School.


6. Manfre, C., D. Rubin, et al. 2013. “Reducing the Gender Gap in Agri-
cultural Extension and Advisory Services: How to Find the Best Fit for Men
and Women Farmers.” MEAS Discussion Paper 2. Modernizing Extension
Advisory Services (MEAS).


7. Manfre, C., D. Rubin, et al. 2013. “Reducing the Gender Gap in Agri-
cultural Extension and Advisory Services: How to Find the Best Fit for Men
and Women Farmers.” MEAS Discussion Paper 2. Modernizing Extension
Advisory Services (MEAS).


8. Reidy, D., S. Shirk, C. Sloan, and A. Zeichner. 2009. “Men aggress
against women: Effects of feminine gender role violation on physical aggres-
sion in hypermasculine men.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity 10 (1), 1–12;
Macmillan, R., and R. Gartner. 1999. “When she brings home the bacon:
Labor-force participation and the risk of spousal violence against women.”
Journal of Marriage and Family 61 (4), 947–58.


Source: National Sample Survey 2004.
Note: These data represent individuals aged 60 or older.


Figure 3.10. Elderly women in India are less independent than
elderly men


0


10


20


30


40


50


60


70


80


90


100


Not dependent on othersPartially dependent on othersFully dependent on others


femalemalefemalemale


Pe
rc


en
t (


%
)


rural urban




Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 47


9. One cross-country study documents that historical plough use centuries
ago influenced the extent of current gender inequality in norms and practice
(plough cultivation requires more physical strength than cultivating using
handheld tools and contributed to earlier and more pronounced gender role
divisions). See: Alesina, A., et al. 2013. “On the Origins of Gender Roles:
Women and the Plough.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128 (2): 469–530.


10. Petesch, P. 2012. “Unlocking Pathways to Women’s Empowerment and
Gender Equality: The Good, The Bad, and the Sticky.” Ethics and Social Wel-
fare 6 (3): 233–46.


11. Carlson, D. L. and C. Knoester. 2011. “Family Structure and the In-
tergenerational Transmission of Gender Ideology.” Journal of Family Issues 32
(6): 709–34.


12. Cunningham, M. 2001. “The Influence of Parental Attitudes and Be-
haviors on Children’s Attitudes Toward Gender and Household Labor in
Early Adulthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (1): 111–22.


13. Gupta, S. 2006. “The Consequences of Maternal Employment During
Men’s Childhood for their Adult Housework Performance.” Gender & Society
20 (1): 60–86.


14. Fernandez, R. 2007. “Culture as learning: The evolution of female labor
force participation over a century.” Working Paper Series No. 13373. Cam-
bridge, Mass.: NBER.


15. Gender at Work team analyses of World Values Survey data.


16. N. M. Fortin. 2005. “Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-Market
Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries.” Oxford Review of Economic
Policy 21 (3): 416–38. doi: 10.1093/oxrep/gri024.


17. Fernández, Raquel and Alessandra Fogli. 2005. “Culture: An Empiri-
cal Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility.” Working Paper No. 11268.
Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).


18. Petesch, P. 2012. “Unlocking Pathways to Women’s Empowerment and
Gender Equality: The Good, The Bad, and the Sticky.” Ethics and Social Wel-
fare 6 (3): 233–46.


19. Heise, L. 2013. Take home insights: a first approximation. Social norms
theory and practice: resources from STRIVE workshop. London: STRIVE at
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


20. See E. L. Paluck and L. Ball, Social Norms Marketing Aimed at Gen-
der Based Violence: A Literature Review and Critical Assessment (Intl. Rescue
Comm. Report, 2010); and World Health Organization, Changing Cultural
and Social Norms that Support Violence (research brief, 2009).


21. G. Barker et al. 2010. “Questioning Gender Norms with Men to Improve
Health Outcomes: Evidence of Impact.” Global Public Health 5 (5): 539–53.


22. See: Promundo, Instituto Papai, et al. 2013. Program H|M|D: A Toolkit
for Action: Engaging Youth to Achieve Gender Equity. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
and Washington, DC, USA; Promundo, UN Population Fund (UNFPA),
et al. 2010. Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality and Health: A Global
Toolkit for Action. New York: UNFPA; UNESCO Bangkok. 2009. Gender in


Resource Box 3.1. Data sources on deprivations and constraints


The next chapter discusses the importance of mixed-meth-
ods gender diagnostics to better understand gender-related
jobs challenges and related constraints throughout the lifecy-
cle. Multi-country data sources often provide a good starting
point to identify problems and analyze potential correlates
with women’s economic outcomes in a country or set of
countries. The following are examples of multi-country data
sources in the public domain that can help shed light on pos-
sible constraints (see notes for Website links):


◆ demographic and health surveys (Measure DHS, ICF In-
ternational): DHS are nationally-representative household
surveys that provide data for a wide range of monitoring
and impact evaluation indicators in the areas of popula-
tion, health, and nutrition. Topics include exposure to do-
mestic violence and attitudes toward women’s agency.140


◆ Gender data portal (World Bank): A one-stop shop for
gender information, catering to a wide range of users
and providing data from a variety of sources. Data at the
country level are organized under six thematic head-
ings, which are aligned to the themes identified by the
Inter-agency and Expert Group on Gender Statistics.141


◆ Gender data portal (OECD): Targeting dimensions
of gender inequalities that are poorly monitored and
measured, the portal aims at progressively filling gaps
through new indicators in education, employment and
entrepreneurship.142


◆ Global entrepreneurship Monitor (a coalition of uni-
versities): An annual assessment of the entrepreneurial
activity, aspirations and attitudes of individuals across
a wide range of countries with data disaggregated by
gender.143


◆ The Global Financial inclusion database (Global Fin-
dex) (World Bank): Measures how people in 148 coun-
tries—including the poor, women, and rural residents—
save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.144


◆ unesCo data Centre (UNESCO): The resource contains
over 1,000 types of indicators and raw data on edu-
cation, literacy, science and technology, culture, and
communication, which could be used to explore gender
differences in school participation and attainment as
well as streaming by subjects.145


◆ Women, Business and the law (World Bank): Tracks
indicators based on laws and regulations affecting wom-
en’s prospects as entrepreneurs and employees in over
140 countries.146


◆ World values surveys (World Values Survey Associa-
tion): The database allows for cross-country analysis of
people’s values and beliefs, how they change over time,
and what social and political impact they have. The data
include indicators on gender norms and attitudes, for ex-
ample toward schooling and labor force participation.147




48 Gender at Work


Education Network in Asia-Pacific (GENIA) Toolkit: Promoting Gender Equal-
ity in Education. Bangkok: UNESCO.


23. L. Kuznick and M. Ryan. 2008. “Changing Gender Norms? Title IX
and Legal Activism: Comments from the Spring 2007 Harvard Journal of
Law and Gender Conference.” Harvard Journal of Law & Gender 31 (2):
367.


24. Levtov, R. Forthcoming. “Addressing Gender Inequalities in Curricu-
lum and Education: Review of Literature and Promising Practices.” Back-
ground paper to the World Bank’s report on Women’s Voice, Agency & Par-
ticipation. Washington, DC: World Bank.


25. Achyut, P., N. Bhatla, S. Khandekar, S. Maitra, and R. K. Verma. 2011.
Building Support for Gender Equality among Young Adolescents in School: Find-
ings from Mumbai, India. International Center for Research on Women.


26. Blumberg, R. L. 2008. “The invisible obstacle to educational equality:
gender bias in textbooks.” Prospects 38 (3) 345–361; Miroiu, M. 2004. “All
in One: Fairness, Neutrality and Conservatism—A Case Study of Romania.”
Prospects 34 (1): 85–100.


27. World Development Indicators; World Bank. 2013. Opening Doors:
Gender Equality and Development in the Middle East and North Africa. Wash-
ington, DC: World Bank.


28. Oya, C. 2010. “Rural inequality, wage employment and labor market
formation in Africa: historical and micro-level evidence.” Working Paper No.
97, Policy Integration Department. Geneva: ILO.


29. Hallward-Driemeier, M. 2013. Enterprising Women: Expanding Eco-
nomic Opportunities in Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.


30. Buvinic, M., R. Furst-Nichols, et al. 2013. A Roadmap for Promoting
Women’s Economic Empowerment (New York: UN Foundation and Exxon
Mobile), 29.


31. Fafchamps, M. et al. 2011. “When is capital enough to get female mi-
croenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana.”
Working Paper No. 17207. Cambridge, Mass.: NBER.


32. Bandiera, O., R. Burgess, et al. 2013. Can basic entrepreneurship trans-
form the economic lives of the poor? London: International Growth Centre,
London School of Economics.


33. World Bank. 2013. Inclusion Matters: The Foundations for Shared Pros-
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34. World Bank. 2013. Opening Doors: Gender Equality and Development in
the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.


35. “Avances y desafíos en las dimensiones del desarrollo humano de los
pueblos indígenas de Guatemala.” Pamela Escobar. Cuaderno de Desarrollo
Humano 2009/2010 – 8 Encovi 2006. Calculated for population ages 15 or
above.


36. Tas, E. O., M. E. Reimão, et al. 2013. “Gender, ethnicity and cumu-
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37. WDR 2012, 74.


38. Härmä, J. 2009. “Can choice promote Education for All? Evidence
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39. UNICEF. 2011, “The State of the World’s Children 2011, Adolescence:
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40. World Bank. 2011. World Development Report 2011 Washington, DC:
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41. WDR 2012.


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Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 49


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77. WDR 2012, 215.


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82. WDR 2012, 221.


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50 Gender at Work


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97. Gender at Work team analysis of DHS data.


98. WDR 2012, 169, 176.


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107. Zuwarimwe, J., and J. Kirsten. 2011. “Social networks and rural non-
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108. Union, I.-P. 2013. “Women in National Parliaments.” Retrieved Sep-
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110. Chattopadhyay, R. and E. Duflo. 2004. “Women as Policy Makers: Evi-
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113. Ghani, E., et al. 2013. “Political reservations and women’s entrepre-
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115. Cruz, A. and S. Klinger. 2011. “Gender-based violence in the world
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117. Willness, C. R., P. Steel, and K. Lee. 2007. “A meta-analysis of the
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118. Brenton, P., C. B. Bucekuderhwa, et al. 2011. Risky Business: Poor
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Deepening Regional Trade Integration in Goods and Services. Washington, DC:
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119. Horna, A. A. V.. 2012. Los costos empresariales de la violencia contra las
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123. Vyas, S. and C. Watts. 2009. “How does economic empowerment affect
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124. Vyas, S. 2013. “The costs of intimate partner violence in Tanzania: A
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Overlapping Constraints Across the Lifecycle 51


125. Bhattacharyya, M., A. S. Bedi, and A. Chhachhi. 2011. “Marital vio-
lence and women’s employment and property status: Evidence from north
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131. There are documented gender differences in legal retirement and/or
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igniting Gender
equality in the
World of Work


Igniting gender equality in the world of work involves understanding local spec-
ificities and developing bold, coordinated actions to address overlapping disadvan-
tages. Informed by careful diagnostics that take into account gender considerations
across the lifecycle, policy makers can develop a multi-pronged approach.


Actions should be considered at three broad levels (Figure 4.1). First, reforms and
other actions may be needed to level the playing field for equality at work, including
addressing constraints across the lifecycle and reforming the “rules of the game”.
These actions are generally government-led with participation from the private sec-
tor and civil society organizations. Second, proactive private sector leadership and
innovation can encourage women’s participation and success in the world of work,
for example by establishing company policies and practices that relieve constraints
on women’s time, encourage men’s role in caring responsibilities, tackle discrimina-
tion in the workplace, and help women gain access to productive inputs. Third, clos-
ing data gaps and investing in knowledge will enable more evidence-based policy-
making and tracking of results. This is central to achieving and measuring the prog-
ress that is needed.


KEy mEssAgEs


▶ Governments can play a critical role in leveling the playing field for
women’s economic opportunities.


▶ Sound jobs strategies to reduce gender inequality in the world of work
start with careful country-level diagnostics to understand local priori-
ties and key constraints to women’s work.


▶ The private sector is the largest source of jobs and therefore essential to
engage for equality in the world of work.


▶ Significant data and knowledge gaps pose major challenges to evi-
dence-based policy-making and need to be addressed.




54 Gender at Work


diaGnosTiCs
Careful diagnostics are vital inputs into evidence-based policy-


making and practice. Multi-sectoral diagnostics can help de-
termine whether and to what extent gender is a policy priority,
which challenges for gender equality at work are most pressing,
and which of the constraints fueling inequality across the lifecycle
need to be addressed.


Country diagnostics can help determine whether and how
gender should be a priority in jobs strategies. The WDR 2013
outlined the importance of diagnosing country-specific jobs chal-
lenges and identifying those jobs that can add the most value to
development. Jobs challenges are frequently characterized by gen-
der disparities across multiple labor market indicators. Given the
pervasiveness of these disparities, the question is rarely whether
gender equality in the world of work should be a priority, but
rather where in the labor market to focus.


Importantly, the three development areas in which the WDR
2013 posited that jobs can have a transformative effect—live-
lihoods, productivity, and social cohesion—are not always
aligned and can even conflict. This has important implications
for gender equality in the world of work, as it reinforces the need
for multi-sectoral diagnostics and coordinated policies to identify
and mitigate tradeoffs. In Bangladesh, for example, the expansion
of the garment sector has created millions of jobs for women.1 In
turn, these jobs have increased women’s earnings, reduced poverty,
and increased girls’ education levels.2 They have added productiv-
ity value by providing a skilled, dependable, and relatively cheap
labor force in a sector with strong export orientation.3 The impli-


cations for social cohesion have been more mixed.4 Garment sec-
tor jobs have enabled many women—particularly, young and un-
married women—to break from traditional norms by migrating
from villages to cities for work, and they have enjoyed increased
social status through greater economic significance in the house-
hold and society.5 Yet the April 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza in-
dustrial building in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 people, most of
whom were women garment workers, was a stark reminder of pos-
sible tension between cheap labor and protection of basic rights.6
The tragedy, along with others, has drawn increased attention to
women’s unsafe working conditions in the context of a weak reg-
ulatory environment, lack of freedom of association and collective
bargaining, and low wages in the industry.7 The case highlights the
need for diagnostics to consider not only job creation in key areas
of the labor market, but also to assess quality of work to inform
public and private sector actions (see Box 4.1).


Identifying jobs priorities involves diagnosing key con-
straints to good jobs for development. Diagnostics that take
lifecycle constraints into account can identify gender dispari-
ties both in access to the labor market and in labor productiv-
ity. However, they are also critically important for broad-based
efforts designed to tackle common constraints. Building on the
evidence and approach presented in this report, Table 4.1 offers a
potential set of initial questions and relevant data sources that can
be used to inform country assessments, including those focused
on improving jobs and growth. These are just starting points; as
key priorities and issues are revealed more-detailed sets of ana-
lytical questions should emerge. For example, finding unequal
aspirations among girls and boys in youth years through consul-
tations could lead to deeper queries about educational streaming
or stereotypes.


Comparing information from different data sources can tell a
fuller story. Data from different sources can provide different and
often complementary insights, and can be usefully compared. Key
quantitative and qualitative data sources for diagnostics include:


◆ Multi-country datasets


◆ Labor force and population census surveys


◆ Household surveys


◆ Firm surveys


◆ Administrative data (on education or access to justice, for
example)


◆ Consultations and focus groups


Data disaggregated by sex and age are critical to both a gen-
der-informed and lifecycle approach to policy-making, though this
disaggregation is often missing with key indicators. Multi-country
data sets can provide useful statistics for analyses and allow for
benchmarking a country’s status on a particular indicator relative
to others. A World Bank Group tool, ADePT Gender, can serve
as a particularly useful resource to help diagnose and analyze gen-
der inequalities across the lifecycle using existing datasets (see Re-
source Box 4.1).8


Source: World Bank.


Figure 4.1. Igniting equality at work: World Bank Group entry
points


Country diagnostics — identify problems, priorities, and solutions


Systematically integrate gender into jobs and growth strategies:


1. Leveling the playing field: Government actions


▶ Long-term policy planning over the lifecycle


▶ Remove formal biases and discrimination


▶ Link services to address multiple constraints


2. Proactive leadership and innovation: Private sector actions


▶ Make gender equality a corporate priority


▶ Empower women to do non-traditional jobs


▶ Increase access to financial services


3. Close data gaps and investing in knowledge


▶ Comparable data, impact and process evaluation, case
studies




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 55


Typically it is desirable to supplement statistics from multi-coun-
try datasets with country-specific surveys using sex-disaggregated
data as well as qualitative research and consultations. Women and
men, young people, employers, civil society organizations, and
public sector leaders can add valuable insights. These sources of
evidence can be especially important in the poorest or most trou-
bled countries where data gaps are common.


The World Bank Group has accumulated valuable experience
through jobs and growth diagnostics as well as country gender
assessments, both of which have identified gender-specific con-
straints and informed policy priorities for gender equality in the
world of work. Some illustrations include the following:


◆ In Kenya, although women make up about half of micro,
small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), their businesses
tended to be much smaller, less likely to grow, and to have
less investment than men’s businesses.9 The assessment found
that eliminating gender inequality in education and access
to agricultural inputs could boost output by as much as 4.3
percentage points of GDP. Corresponding recommendations
included increasing women’s property rights and access to fi-
nance and justice.


◆ In Haiti, where statistical capacity is weak, focus group
consultations with women farmers identified multiple con-
straints, including low levels of education and capacity-build-
ing, time constraints, and men’s resistance to their leadership.


In response, a World Bank-funded project was launched to
strengthen agricultural productivity through efforts including
a financial literacy program for female agriculture producers
and traders and gendered capacity-building with the Ministry
of Agriculture.


◆ In Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a joint World Bank and
Asian Development Bank gender assessment found persistent
wage gaps, self-employed women running smaller businesses,
and occupational streaming by gender, as well as disparities
in time use. Women entrepreneurs reported greater difficulty
accessing finance and technical skills. The assessment recom-
mended strategies to expand wage labor opportunities for
women and men in industries that were more likely to bene-
fit both, improved access to finance and business training for
women entrepreneurs, and increase women’s participation in
infrastructure jobs such as mining operations.10


Three levels oF aCTion
Guided by the priorities and needs identified through diagnos-


tics, actions may be needed at three levels. This approach builds
on the WDR 2012, which highlights both the importance of
formal institutions and markets for driving positive change and
the need for data and evidence to inform actions on the part of
both institutions and markets. Through a combination of financ-


Box 4.1. Beyond having a job: gender and the Decent Work Agenda


Most jobs can contribute to people’s agency and well-being
on some level, but some jobs do more than others.8 The ILO
has championed standards for people’s work through the
Decent Work Agenda. The ILO describes decent work as “op-
portunities for women and men to obtain decent and pro-
ductive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and
human dignity.”9 The agenda centers on four strategic policy
objectives: fundamental principles and rights at work and
international labor standards, productive and freely chosen
employment, social protection, and social dialogue.10 A gen-
der equality “lens” runs through each aspect of the agenda,11
and frequently reveals women’s disadvantage across each of
these dimensions, especially in developing countries. The De-
cent Work Agenda applies to all types of employment, formal
and informal, paid and unpaid. Given that women workers are
more heavily concentrated into informal jobs and self-em-
ployment, it is particularly important that actions to improve
the quality of work in developing countries target gender in-
equalities in these types of activities.


Recent initiatives have extended the Decent Work Agenda to
define higher standards of quality work. For example, build-
ing on the ILO’s framework of decent work, the United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe developed a framework


and measure of “quality work” intended for both developed
and developing countries that includes the following seven
dimensions:12


◆ Safety and ethics of employment—including safety at
work, fair treatment in employment, and the absence of
child and forced labor


◆ Income and benefits from employment


◆ Work-life balance—including working hours, time
arrangements, and the ability to balance work and
non-working life


◆ Security of employment and social protection


◆ Social dialogue—including the freedom to organize,
strike, and collectively bargain with employers


◆ Skills development and training opportunities


◆ Workplace relationships and work motivation


These types of standards for quality work can contribute to
labor market diagnostics that consider gender sorting into
types of jobs and industries. Similarly, they can also inform
firm-level diagnostics within companies to assess the quality
of employees’ experiences broadly, as well as differences by
gender.




56 Gender at Work


Life stage Considerations Possible data sources


Child and youth
years


Constraints and opportunities for action


◆ Are girls and boys equally and adequately nourished and provided with a stimulating,
trauma-free environment, starting in their first days of life?


◆ Do girls and boys achieve equal educational attainment and performance and have
equal opportunities to develop cognitive, non-cognitive, and vocational skills that
prepare them for good jobs?


◆ Do girls and boys have different levels or kinds of career aspirations?


◆ Can girls and boys move safely and freely in society?


◆ Are there strong pressures on girls’ or boys’ time, such as domestic or market work?


◆ Are there high rates of early marriage or adolescent pregnancy?


◆ Is gender-based violence occurring in homes, schools, or communities?


◆ World Bank Gender Data Portal


◆ WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnu-
trition


◆ ILO School-to-Work Transition Survey


◆ UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys


◆ World Values Surveys


◆ Demographic and Health Surveys


◆ UNESCO Institute of Statistics


◆ UNFPA Data for Development


Productive age
years


Labor force characteristics
◆ How do labor force participation rates, sectoral composition of work, employment


type, vulnerable work, agricultural work, and earnings differ by gender and across age
groups?


◆ Are poor women more/less likely to work than non-poor women?


Labor productivity and employment growth by sector
◆ What has been the rate of growth of labor productivity in sectors with high shares of


working poor women and men?


◆ Has productivity growth translated into higher earnings for both women and men?


Constraints and opportunities for action
◆ Do legal and tax frameworks provide an equitable foundation of opportunities and


incentives for women and men’s work?


◆ Do women have to spend more time than men on caring responsibilities and house-
work?


◆ Do employer practices, labor policies, services, and infrastructure alleviate or exacer-
bate constraints on women’s time?


◆ Do women and men have equal access to on-the-job training and career opportuni-
ties?


◆ Do women and men farmers and entrepreneurs enjoy equal access to key productive
inputs and networks?


◆ Do women and men enjoy equal access to public works programs and other forms of
social protection?


◆ Is gender-based violence occurring in homes, workplaces, or communities?


◆ World Bank Gender Data Portal


◆ ILO KILM


◆ Labor force surveys


◆ Women, Business and the Law


◆ Firm surveys (including Enterprise Surveys)


◆ Time use surveys


◆ Global FINDEX


◆ World Values Surveys


◆ Demographic and Health Surveys


Elderly years Constraints and opportunities for action
◆ All of the above that applies to productive age years


◆ Are there legal differences in retirement or pension ages, and do these have conse-
quences for gender equality at work?


◆ Do elderly women and men enjoy equal levels of autonomy and social protection?


◆ All of the above


◆ Women, Business and the Law


Table 4.1. Diagnosing constraints across the lifecycle




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 57


ing, convening power, and multidisciplinary expertise, the World
Bank Group can play a catalytic role at each of these levels.


1. leveling the playing field: government actions
across the lifecycle


A lifecycle approach to equality at work more fully accounts for
varied constraints that, as they emerge at different stages, can have
major implications for the nature and extent of women’s eco-
nomic opportunities. This section reviews policy options related
to gender dimensions of fundamentals and prioritized constraints
at three broad stages of the lifecycle, and it draws on evidence
related to labor policies and gender for the adult years. National,
subnational, and municipal governments can all play important
roles in helping to level the playing field for women’s work. Co-
ordinated engagement from the private sector, donors, and civil
society organizations can increase the likelihood of success. In
low-capacity settings, such as many fragile and conflict-affected
situations, coordination and engagement among non-govern-
mental actors have elevated the importance of actions to level the
playing field.


In working toward greater gender equality in the world of work,
it is important to consider two types of actions: (1) broad actions
that are designed to improve country competitiveness and job cre-
ation overall but can have disproportionately positive effects for
women’s work, and (2) targeted actions to remove or offset gen-
der-specific constraints (Figure 4.2). This chapter focuses on the
targeted policy actions, but this does not discount the importance
of broad-based actions for women’s economic empowerment. In
early childhood, for example, experimental research in Jamaica
and the U.S. shows girls experiencing larger gains than boys from
programs targeting early childhood development.11 During pro-
ductive age years, inefficient and corrupt business regulatory envi-
ronments can have disproportionately adverse impacts on women
entrepreneurs because of the constraints on their time and mobil-
ity as well as their vulnerability to harassment.12


Consequently, reforms that may benefit everyone may be es-
pecially important for women’s economic opportunities. Some
research indicates that women may stand to gain more than men
from rural electrification projects (because the projects increase
women’s time and the demand for labor in small enterprises),


Resource Box 4.1. Using ADePT gender to support country diagnostics


ADePT Gender is software designed to facilitate the main-
streaming of gender in poverty and labor analysis. It is or-
ganized in two parts. The first produces a multi-dimensional
diagnostic of gender inequality in a country in the form of a
large set of simple tabulations and graphs. The second part
goes deeper into gender inequalities in the labor market, pre-
senting a comprehensive set of measures of earnings inequal-
ity.


Country Gender profile: ADePT Gender presents information
on gender gaps for several outcomes grouped following the
three dimensions: health and human capital (endowments);
economic opportunities; and voice, agency, and participation.
Outcomes include rates of enrollment and attainment in all
levels of education, user-defined health outcomes includ-
ing those relevant for children and for reproductive health,
rates of employment, unemployment and out-of-the labor
force, occupational segregation indices, and participation in
decision-making over different household expenditures. The
sex-disaggregated outcomes are available for different vul-
nerable population groups.


Gender and labor: ADePT Gender produces measures of
overall inequality and within-gender earnings inequality, as
well as measures of gender pay gaps for two groups of the
employed population: wage workers and the self-employed.
Examples of measures are 90/10 percentile ratios and Gini,
Theil, and Atkinson inequality measures adjusted to earn-
ings. It also computes several decompositions of gender gaps
in pay for wage workers and self-employed workers and as-
sesses occupational segregation with the Duncan index.


Examples of ADePT Gender output from gender and labor




58 Gender at Work


though rigorous studies into the gender differences and similar-
ities of electrification impacts are surprisingly few.13 Similarly,
older worker policies that provide retraining and employment
services and invest in flexible and home-based work options may
be needed overall, but could also have disproportionately positive
effects for women—because women tend to outnumber men in
their elder years and are more likely to face disadvantage in the
labor market.14


These opportunities reinforce the importance of both apprais-
ing the gender-specific implications of seemingly gender-neutral
policies and including sex-disaggregated data in the monitoring
and evaluation of reforms. Now we turn to more targeted actions,
which we divide into three parts: child and youth years, produc-
tive age years, and elderly years.


Child and youth years


Given gender-specific impediments to schooling, supply-
and/or demand-side actions may be needed. Supply-side ac-
tions include increasing the accessibility and suitability of schools
for girls. Given girls’ greater mobility restrictions, they typically
stand to benefit more from efforts to build local schools, especially
in remote areas. A randomized trial in Afghanistan showed that
reducing the distance to schools by increasing community-based
education significantly increased children’s enrollment rates and
test scores with larger effects for girls.15 Sensitive design features
can also help. A randomized trial in Burkina Faso found that the
implementation of “girl-friendly” schools significantly increased
enrollment for both girls and boys, but, again, more for girls.16
Unique elements of “girl-friendly” schools included separate la-
trines for girls and boys, incentives designed to increase girls’ atten-
dance, information campaigns directed toward parents, increased
recruitment of female teachers, and gender-sensitivity training


for teachers and other educational staff. Further trials of similar
approaches in other settings would increase their generalizability.


On the demand-side, cash transfers to poor families can help
offset fees and hidden costs and counter normative pressures
on girls’ early marriage and school drop-out. They can also off-
set short-term income losses suffered by poor households that
would otherwise have children working. A recent systematic re-
view found that conditional cash transfers tend to have larger
effects on child educational participation, especially girls’, than
unconditional cash transfers, particularly when explicit schooling
conditions for payments are included, monitored, and enforced.17
Where social norms are especially biased against girls’ schooling,
increasing incentives for girls’ outcomes in cash transfer models
can help offset constraints; this been successful, for example, in
Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey.18


Investing in equitable and market-oriented skills develop-
ment through multicomponent programming can reduce
gender sorting. In 2010, the World Bank launched Skills toward
Employment and Productivity (STEP), a framework to help poli-
cymakers and researchers “think through the design of systems to
impart skills that enhance productivity and growth.”19 The frame-
work centered on a lifecycle approach (Figure 4.3) with many of
the foundational investments required in childhood and youth.
At each stage, males and females should have equal access to
high-quality and engaging opportunities to develop the skills that
align with short- and long-term jobs strategies. As the framework
highlights, actions should focus on both the foundational cogni-
tive and non-cognitive skills and the market-specific technical and
business skills that are needed to support good jobs for develop-
ment in a particular context.


Figure 4.2. Both broad-based and targeted actions across the
lifecycle can contribute to gender equality in the world of work


Elderly years


Productive age years


Targeted actions to
address gender specic


constraints


Broad actions with
gendered dividends


Lif
ec


yc
le


Child and youth years


CHiLD AND yoUTH yEARs


Challenges and some promising solutions


Barriers to Schooling for Girls


◆ Reduce distance and mobility barriers to schools


◆ Provide gender-sensitive facilities


◆ Implement cash transfers to offset schooling costs


◆ Increase incentives for girls’ schooling where biased norms are strong


Skill-building Opportunities for Female Youth
(TVET and ALMP specific interventions)


◆ Implement multicomponent interventions with multi-month duration


◆ Engage businesses as partners


◆ Target incentives and outreach to recruit young women


◆ Arrange child care and transportation options


◆ Tackle occupational segregation with better information




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 59


Young women often benefit more than young men from youth
employment programs, possibly because women especially need
the help to overcome additional constraints and because some of
the programs specifically seek to reduce occupational segregation
through training and job placement.20 Overall, however, technical
and vocational education and training (TVET) and active labor
market programs (ALMPs) geared toward youth business skills,
employability, and employment have had mixed results.21 A recent
randomized evaluation of a nine-day employability skills training
for young women with secondary education or above in Jordan
found no effects on employment.22


When does skills-training benefit young women’s work? Evi-
dence reviews suggest that the most promising models are multi-
component—combining, for example, on-the-job training, class-
room components, life skills training, and counseling.23 Engaging
the private sector helps to identify and build market-relevant skills.
For example, by forming business links to deliver classroom-based
training that responded to actual labor market needs and facilitate
on-the-job training, an active labor market program in Colombia
increased earnings of young women who dropped out of second-
ary school by 20 percent, as well as their likelihood of working in
formal-wage jobs.24


Program duration may also be a significant factor. Compared to
the abovementioned nine-day course in Jordan, the intervention
in Colombia exposed young people to six months of classroom
and on-the-job training. Similarly, a randomized evaluation found
large effects on employment and earnings for a World Bank-sup-
ported a skills-training program for young women in Liberia that


involved multiple components, including six-months of training
followed by six-months of job placement and advisory services.25


Gender-informed design and recruitment strategies can increase
the reach and impact of TVET and ALMP interventions. For
example, actively recruiting young women, modifying selection
criteria, and providing targeted scholarships or financial support
could increase gender parity in recruitment, though more evalua-
tion is needed to test different approaches. In all regions but Latin
America and the Caribbean, girls are enrolled in lower rates than
boys in vocational or technical training.26 Meanwhile, creating
safe spaces, arranging childcare options, recruiting more female
instructors, and providing information and preparation for wom-
en’s participation in non-traditional fields could improve program
delivery and effectiveness for young women.27 TVET and ALMP
interventions should avoid reinforcing occupational segregation.
Often, young people choose course subjects based on deficient
information, or misinformation, about which trades are suit-
able or highest earning. These patterns are frequently gendered.
In Kenya, for example, a randomized trial found that men more
typically opt for “male-dominated” fields in vocational training,
such as motor-vehicle mechanics, while women choose more “fe-
male-dominated” courses, such as hairdressing. It also found how-
ever that giving participants better information about the market
for each trade can significantly influence subject choices.28


productive age years


A level playing field in working-age years starts with fair pol-
icy frameworks. This includes reforming macroeconomic policies


Figure 4.3. Implementing STEP as an integrated set of programs across workers’ lifecycles


Source: World Bank (2010).




60 Gender at Work


and legal and regulatory frameworks to address market and insti-
tutional failures that disadvantage women’s work. As discussed in
chapter 3, some policies explicitly discriminate against women.
These include, for example, labor codes that prohibit women from
doing certain jobs or working during particular hours, or property
or inheritance laws that explicitly defer rights to men. Often, how-
ever, policy frameworks are unfair because they compound exist-
ing constraints to women’s agency. In the Middle East and North
Africa, for example, large government subsidies to households
have had the unintended consequence of discouraging women’s
employment because women are considered secondary earners.29
The IMF recently highlighted how some tax structures can sim-
ilarly disadvantage women. Because women’s labor force activity
appears to be more sensitive than men’s to taxes, replacing family
income taxation with individual income taxation or otherwise re-
ducing the tax burden on secondary earners (typically women) in
some countries could boost women’s work.30 Legal frameworks
can indirectly disadvantage women when they include “head of
household” provisions that give property or other rights to a sin-
gle head of household, who is often male. A careful review of tax


regimes and legal frameworks
with a gender lens can bring
adverse effects of seemingly
“gender-neutral” policies to
the fore.


Reforms that address con-
straints to women’s work
outside of the formal sector
are particularly important for
poor female farmers and en-
trepreneurs—especially with
respect to property and inher-
itance laws. The positive im-
pact of extending land rights,


and information on land rights, for poor women farmers in par-
ticular has been supported by a high level of evidence.31 Manda-
tory and default joint titling have shown positive results for wom-
en’s economic empowerment.32 In a study of 98 economies, equal
inheritance rights were found to increase the likelihood of having
a formal bank account and formal credit.33 The Hindu Succes-
sion Act Amendment in India provided for equality of inheritance
rights between daughters and sons. The reform not only increased
women’s likelihood to inherit land, but also delayed daughters’ age
of marriage and raised their educational attainment.34


Other legal reforms may also have important implications for
women outside of formal sector work. Some countries have ex-
tended labor regulations to the informal sector. In Brazil, the con-
stitution explicitly includes domestic workers within its equality
provisions that guarantee, among other things, minimum wages,
parental leave, retirement pensions, and social security. Similarly,
a recently enacted law in the Philippines, the Domestic Workers
Act, or Batas Kasambahay (Republic Act 10361, An Act Institut-
ing Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Work-
ers, signed into law on January 2013), extends legal protection
ensuring basic labor rights and addressing labor trafficking and
domestic servitude. In India, where more than 90 percent of
working women are in informal employment, collective action
by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) led to policy
changes that extended minimum wage to garment workers and
provided legal protection for street vendors and social security for
informal workers.35


While equitable legal frameworks are critical, they are only
as good as their implementation. Weak implementation by the
authorities, low awareness, and a lack of complementary inter-
ventions can all limit the impacts of reform.36 In Ethiopia and
Mozambique, for example, research has found widespread lack
of awareness related to key laws and provisions on land rights,
particularly in rural areas.37 Awareness can be raised through spe-
cific initiatives. Examples include community-based awareness
campaigns, paralegal services, and consultations with local offi-
cials—as in Cambodia, Colombia, and the Democratic Repub-
lic of Congo—to increase women’s and local leaders’ awareness
of property rights.38 Actions need to ensure that good laws are
complemented by access to justice. In Indonesia, for example, the
World Bank’s Justice for the Poor initiative supported reforms and
programs that waived religious court fees for the poor, extended
rural legal services, disseminated information to women in villages
on their legal rights, and engaged multiple stakeholders at the dis-
trict level (including judges, public prosecutors, police, and local
government officials) to facilitate institutional awareness and ac-
tion around women’s rights.39 The Democratic Republic of Congo
has implemented mobile gender courts in order to facilitate wom-
en’s access to justice in remote areas.40


Policies are needed to overcome constraints to women’s
time. This involves increasing both women’s time for paid work
and men’s time for (and dedication to) caring and other domestic
responsibilities. To this end, a United Nations report to the Gen-


PRoDUCTivE AgE yEARs


Challenges and some promising solutions


Legal Framework


◆ Consider mandatory joint titling to increase women’s land ownership


◆ Extend labor regulation to the informal sector, especially those dominated
by women, such as domestic work


Time Poverty


◆ Increase parental leave and flexible work arrangements for men and
women


◆ Invest in time-saving technology for women


Inequitable Access to Productive Inputs


◆ Correct biases in service delivery


◆ Improve credit markets


“She can get property, but
she can’t own property. For
example, if her brother gives
her a cow, it is hers. But before
she sells it to someone else,
she must consult the man
(brother or husband) and
the man must agree. Even
the woman herself is your
property.”

—Adult male, Liberia, On
Norms & Agency




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 61


eral Assembly argued that government policies should position
care as a social and collective responsibility, rather than one placed
solely on women’s shoulders.41 Depending on country context,
time constraints can be alleviated by improving parental leave
and flexible work policies, expanding early child development
and child care services, investing in women’s access to time-saving
technology and infrastructure, and innovating to increase men’s
active participation in caring and domestic responsibilities.


◆ Increasing parental leave and flexible work arrangements for
both women and men. These policies will have greater impacts
in advanced economies in which large shares of women’s jobs
are in formal employment for an employer. First, evidence
from high income countries has shown paid maternity leave
and flexible work policies to have positive effects on women’s
economic opportunities.42 Legal expansion of maternity leave
in Germany has had significant effects on mothers’ return to
work behavior after childbirth, and reduced turnover pre-
served good job-employee matches.43 However, these policies
can discourage firms from hiring women if maternity leave
is not publically financed. For example, Ghana’s labor laws


make female hiring more costly by requiring that employers
assume the costs of maternity leave.44 Second, leave and flexi-
bility policies should strengthen opportunities and incentives
for men to share in domestic responsibilities (without reduc-
ing the leave and flexibility available to mothers). Focusing
on maternity leave alone reinforces women’s gender roles as
primary care-providers.45 Evidence from the United King-
dom indicates that flexible work options may increase men’s
caring responsibilities, and research from the United States
suggests that increasing men’s eligibility for childcare leave
increased their likelihood of dressing, feeding, bathing, and
getting up at night nine months after birth.46 Often, however,
where these policies exist, the amount of leave to which men
are entitled is too little to make a difference in shifting gender
relationships. In South Africa, for instance, the labor code
entitles men to only three days of paid leave per year to be
used at the time of the birth of a child or sickness or death of
a family member.47


◆ Expanding early child development and childcare services. Early
child development and childcare services that can free wom-


Box 4.2. Navigating the many policy options for childcare services and financing


Expanding access to affordable childcare can be effective
for both developed and developing country settings. Ap-
proaches vary, however, with countries employing a variety
of delivery and financing models for childcare services.52 In
some cases, governments manage public childcare centers
to extend needed services and enable greater quality control.
This, however, could require large capital investments and
crowd out market-based provision of care where affordable
private services are already widely available. Public vouchers
for families or direct public financing of private sector provid-
ers may be more cost-effective where feasible,53 though addi-
tional training and accreditation elements may be needed to
ensure adequate labor supply and quality of delivery. Some
models require parents to pay a fee, which can be tied to
household income, subsidized, or waived altogether for the
poorest households. Financing schemes should be carefully
designed so as to ensure accessibility to the poor. Research
from countries as diverse as Brazil, Canada, Kenya, and Roma-
nia suggests mothers are more likely to use formal childcare
arrangements and enter the labor force when free or low-
cost childcare options are available.54 Cost-benefit analyses of
childcare schemes should consider returns based on assess-
ments of both women’s increased earnings and child devel-
opment outcomes. Examples of design approaches to extend
childcare services to poor women and their children in devel-
oping contexts include:


◆ Daycare centers in Peru: The Ministry of Education, in part-
nership with multilateral organizations, has expanded
Wawa Wasi, a low-cost daycare program. For a small fee,
working mothers leave children under three years old


in a day-care home where there is a “mother-in-charge”
trained in health care, early childhood stimulation, and
basic nutrition.55


◆ Childcare cooperatives in India: SEWA organizes childcare
to support women working in agriculture and self-em-
ployment through local cooperatives.56 The SEWA expe-
rience shows that building trust among poor women to
rely on non-family caretakers can take time, but good
outreach, providing clear information, and employing
local women can help.57


◆ Preschool in Mozambique: A randomized evaluation
found that having children attend preschool centers in
rural areas increased caregivers’ probability of working
in the 30 days prior to the survey by 26 percent, and it
even increased 10- to 15-year-olds’ school attendance by
6 percent—presumably due to adolescent girls’ reduced
caring burden for younger children.58 Participating chil-
dren also experienced gains in primary school enroll-
ment and key child development outcomes.


◆ Childcare vouchers in Mexico: The Estancias Infantiles
program provides vouchers covering 90 percent of the
cost of childcare for children up to age four for women
who are either in paid employment, currently enrolled
in an educational or vocational program, or seeking
employment.59 The program increased the probability of
employment by 5 percent and increased average earn-
ings by 20 percent among eligible women who partici-
pated; it also generated approximately 45,000 paid jobs
for providers and aids, who are mainly women.60




62 Gender at Work


en’s time can include a wide range of programs and models,
such as preschool, crèches, daycare centers, home-based care,
and cooperatives of childcare support (see Box 4.2). Quality
and affordable childcare services are often a win-win for both
mothers’ economic opportunities and children’s development.
This is important for appraising the return on investment of
public financing of childcare services; depending on the de-
sign and quality of services provided, they can yield dividends
for society and country competitiveness through current and
future generations. A World Bank analysis suggests that add-
ing one year of preschool education in Turkey could increase
female labor force participation by nine percent.48 In terms of
child outcomes, a systematic review of rigorous evaluations
in developing countries (all of those included were in Latin
America and the Caribbean) found positive impacts of day-
care, including preschool, on child development outcomes.49
Yet policy in many developing countries still does not re-
flect the need. In one-third of all 143 countries included in
Women, Business and the Law, there are no laws establishing
the public provision of childcare or subsidizing childcare for
children under the age of primary education.50 As Figure 4.4
illustrates, while gains have been made, enrollment of chil-
dren in preprimary education remains very low in low-in-
come countries. This deprives women of a caring option for
children, and it deprives children of important developmen-
tal opportunities.51


◆ Increasing women’s access to technology and infrastructure can ex-
pand economic opportunities.61 In rural communities, women
often bear the bulk of responsibility for collecting water and
firewood. A study in rural Zambia found that women spent
16 times as many hours as men per year collecting firewood.62


Targeted infrastructure projects can help increase women’s
time for paid jobs. Increasing the uptake of safe, fuel-efficient
cookstoves in poor households can significantly cut down
the time women spend collecting firewood while improving
women’s and children’s respiratory health and reducing defor-
estation.63 In Cambodia, the National Improved Cookstove
Program reduced the amount of time women devoted to col-
lecting firewood and their incomes by selling low-cost, fu-
el-efficient cookstoves largely through local female vendors.64
Better irrigation systems and clean water supplies can also cut
back on women’s hours of water-fetching while improving
health outcomes. Research in Pakistan, for instance, has found
that women’s access to better water-supply infrastructure was
associated with greater time allocation to income-generating
activities.65 Carefully planned road improvements and public
transport can increase women’s mobility and reduce the time
that women spend traveling by foot.66 It can be useful to assess
gender differences in travel patterns and design infrastructure
projects accordingly, as has been done recently in Yemen.67
These analyses consistently show that transport is not gender
neutral. While the evidence is clear on the need for infra-
structure investments as part of a comprehensive agenda to
increase gender equality in the world of work, there have been
few rigorous evaluations on the effect of large-scale infrastruc-
ture projects on women’s time allocation. This should be a
focus going forward.


◆ Innovating to increase men’s fathering roles and participation in
domestic responsibilities. Outside of formal sector labor regu-
lations in developing countries, there is very little evidence
on what works to encourage men to assume a higher share
of domestic responsibilities, and few parenting programs ad-
dress father engagement and men’s roles.68 Policy actions can
include public initiatives and campaigns to encourage men’s
caring roles. For example, a public initiative in Chile, Empa-
pate, which is part of the national social protection system,
aims to change norms and educate men on the importance of
their engagement in childcare and sharing domestic responsi-
bilities.69 An initiative in Turkey, the Father Support Program,
delivers courses to fathers through school teachers to encour-
age higher father engagement. Non-experimental evaluation
results suggest improvements in fathers’ time spent with chil-
dren and sharing of parenting and housework responsibili-
ties.70 A non-experimental pilot evaluation in Rwanda sim-
ilarly found promising impacts on changing men’s reported
contributions to caring and housework by adding group ses-
sions engaging men to a group microcredit intervention for
women.71 Scalable interventions to incentivize and encourage
responsibility-sharing need to be more rigorously tested.


Increasing equitable access to financial services and other
key productive inputs can narrow productivity and profitabil-
ity gaps between female and male entrepreneurs and farmers.
The WDR 2012 recommended policies strengthening women’s
ownership rights, correcting biases in service delivery institutions,


Figure 4.4. Enrollment of children in preprimary education
remains very low in low-income countries


0


20


40


60


80


100


Low-income Lower middle–income


Upper middle–income High-income


World


201120092007200520032001


%
g


ro
ss


e
nr


ol
lm


en
t


Source: World Development Indicators.




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 63


and improving the functioning of credit markets. Clearly, these
still hold, but emerging evidence on the importance of access to
financial services should also be emphasized. Particularly for poor
women entrepreneurs, extending financial services and credit can
be critical. A randomized trial in Kenya showed that access to sav-
ings accounts increased women’s business investments and expen-
ditures.72 Efforts to boost women’s financial inclusion are often
needed to address both supply-side constraints (such as collateral
requirements that exclude women, documentation requirements,
marketing that does not target poor women, and products that do
not adequately meet women’s needs) and demand-side constraints
(such as constraints on mobility, laws that preclude women’s access
to credit, poor access to networks and information, low education
and literacy, and lack of access to a mobile phone).73 Here again,
understanding restrictions on women’s agency can be instructive
in designing programs and policies. A different study of 749 mar-
ried couples in Kenya, for instance, indicates that women who
individually have bank accounts may in fact be disadvantaged by
lower transaction costs for accessing savings accounts with free
ATM cards, as this can make it easier for men to pressure women
with low bargaining power to withdraw funds.74


Specific policy and project options to address supply- and de-
mand-side constraints are outlined in greater depth in a recent
toolkit, Promoting Women’s Financial Inclusion.75 One key point
reinforces a reoccurring theme in this report: given the reality of
multiple constraints, the success of programs to increase finan-
cial inclusion of women often hinges on linking financial services
(such as banking, microfinance, enterprise finance, and micro-in-
surance), to complementary services (such as health, education,
financial literacy, and social services) that remove or offset con-
straints that disproportionately affect poor women.


Identify and correct service design and delivery biases that
discourage women’s work. These institutional failures man-
ifest in various ways, but here we highlight opportunities for
adult skill-building programs and social protection schemes in
particular.


Women farmers frequently have lower access than men to ag-
ricultural extension and advisory services, often due in part to
biased membership rules or requirements.76 Only 28 percent of
women farmers in Ethiopia, for example, report weekly visits by
extension development agents, compared to 50 percent of men
farmers.77 Yet access to extension services in Ethiopia by women
and men is strongly and positively linked to adoption of better
seed and fertilizer.78 While rigorous evidence on the most effec-
tive practices in different settings is very limited, such institutional
failures may be mitigated in extension services, for example, by
adapting extension information and training to meet women’s
needs, utilizing mobile phones and other technologies to reach
women who have more constrained mobility, providing extension
services through women’s support groups when women have dif-
ficulty joining male-dominated groups, and improving women’s
representation as extension agents.79 There are also gender biases
in entrepreneurs’ access to technical resources. In Tanzania, a


study found that 8 percent of women, compared to 16 percent
of men, reported having participated in apprenticeship programs
designed to support household entrepreneurs.80


Appropriately designed social protection schemes can strengthen
resilience in tough times and foster individuals’ capacity to thrive.
Given gender disparities in the world of work often leave women
particularly vulnerable, it can be important to incorporate gen-
der into the design and targeting of social protection schemes.81
Social protection includes a wide range of topics, including pen-
sions, safety nets, employment guarantee programs, skills-train-
ing, and health insurance, among others.82 These programs are
critical for helping to pull or keep people out of severe poverty (in
the absence of sufficient income-generating opportunities) and to
protect households from economic shocks, such as illness, crop
devastation, or natural disaster. Yet unintended design and de-
livery consequences may limit the positive impacts social protec-
tion schemes can have on women’s economic opportunities. Here
we highlight the examples of employment guarantee programs
(EGPs) and safety net schemes.


Employment guarantee programs (EGPs) that provide tempo-
rary jobs and wage to poor people often have low female par-
ticipation rates. Evidence from India and South Africa, however,
suggests high demand among women for participating in EGPs.83
Policy makers should consider both the extent to which women
have access to EGPs and the extent to which they benefit women
and girls; for example, building the types of infrastructure that re-
duce women’s time burden or increase girls’ access to education.84
In terms of access, policy actions can fix institutional biases by en-
couraging more women to participate in traditionally male-dom-
inated EGPs. Training of EGP managers, quotas, and improving
the gender-sensitivity of workplaces can help, depending on the
circumstances. The “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employ-
ment Guarantee Act” (MG-NREGA), a large permanent public
works program in India designed to avert the risks of seasonal
rural unemployment, includes gender-sensitive accommodations,
such as projects closer to home, provision of childcare and water
for children, and breaks for lactating mothers.85 The World Bank’s
Gender Action Plan supported capacity-building with multiple
countries, such as Honduras, Kenya, and Lao PDR, to increase
gender equality commitments within employment policies for in-
frastructure sectors.86 Where discrimination and biased norms are
particularly strong, governments should consider quotas as an op-
tion to increase women’s participation in infrastructure projects,
as has been done in India, Peru, and South Africa.87 Additionally,
EGPs like the one in South Africa can include social service sector
projects, such as community health outreach or childcare services,
which can engage women in semi-skilled jobs and have wider so-
cial impacts.88


Governments can also design cash transfer models with wom-
en’s work in mind. Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have played
significant roles in dozens of countries to reduce poverty and im-
prove child outcomes. At the same time, qualitative research from
Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru suggests that CCTs can perpetuate




64 Gender at Work


traditional gender roles and time constraints by making moth-
ers primarily responsible for a range of conditions tied to child
outcomes.89 Recent innovations in safety net models have taken
women’s work into account. In Chile, for example, the new Ethi-
cal Family Income legislation includes gender-informed policy el-
ements, such as training courses for the unemployed and subsidies
for women’s work. Early results of a randomized trial of the policy
indicate promising gains for female labor force participation.90 An
experimental study in Nicaragua found a CCT program quadru-
pled the incomes of women beneficiaries by boosting aspirations
through facilitating social interactions with other female leaders in
the community.91 In Pakistan, the national social safety net project
has increased women’s registration of computerized national iden-
tification cards, which are essential for opening a bank account,
getting a driver’s license, and going into formal employment.92


Ways to reduce violence should be explored as part of pro-
grams promoting economic opportunities. Women’s entrance
into non-traditional sectors, while important, also involves ele-
vated risks for women’s safety. High levels of sexual harassment
have been documented among women working in male-domi-
nated areas such as construction, law enforcement, and the mil-


itary (though very little re-
search has been conducted
in developing countries).93
Women in Afghanistan’s po-
lice force, for example, report
rampant levels of exposure
to sexual harassment and as-
sault by male colleagues.94
Policies and programs to in-
crease women’s entry into


male-dominated fields should be accompanied by planning for
robust monitoring, oversight, training, and redress mechanisms to
ensure women’s freedom from violence on the job.


Women’s economic independence is important for increasing
women’s intra-household bargaining power and exit options in the
event of an abusive relationship.95 However, economic opportuni-
ties by themselves may fail to reduce gender-based violence and in
some cases can even aggravate it. Emerging evidence shows that
economic empowerment programs can reduce women’s exposure to
violence by including program components geared toward build-
ing women’s social cohesion and fostering more gender equitable
relationships. Microcredit interventions that included components
which addressed women’s social support and gender norms have
demonstrated reductions in women’s exposure to abuse in South
Africa and Cote d’Ivoire (only economic abuse was significantly
affected in the latter).96 In El Salvador, Ciudad Mujer, a project
supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, establishes
community-based one-stop centers for women that provide inte-
grated services such as vocational training, access to microfinance,
childcare services, crisis supports for victims of violence, and com-
munity education targeting gender norms and women’s health.97
An impact evaluation is currently under way. New trials evaluating


multi-disciplinary interventions like these are under way in devel-
oping economies, but more innovation and testing are needed.


elderly years


Equality in old-age labor regulations can reduce market bi-
ases against women’s work. Many governments have moved, or
are moving, toward equal retirement and pension ages.98 Such re-
forms can have positive effects, though they need to be studied in
greater depth in developing countries. In the United Kingdom,
for example, increasing the state female pension age from 60 to
61 increased female employment rates by 7 percentage points
over a two-year period, with significant increases in part-time
and full-time employment. The reform strengthened public fi-
nances through a combination of reduced state expenditures (on
pensions) and increased tax revenues (from additional earned in-
come).99 Since 2011, Italy and Ukraine have equalized retirement
ages and Lithuania, Poland, and Slovenia are gradually increasing
women’s retirement age toward equality. Both Ethiopia and Ma-
lawi recently introduced statutory ages for retirement and pen-
sions, which are the same for women and men.100


Flexible work and employment support for older women
can make work more viable. Reentry and continued work
should be an option for older women. With growing elderly de-
mographics worldwide, early retirement and social security are
increasingly costly and insufficient to eliminate the need to work
altogether among the elderly poor. Jobs for able older workers
need to be part of the broader solution to protecting and em-
powering growing elderly demographics, particularly women.
Increases in retirement and pension ages, which are needed in
many economies, should be accompanied by policies to increase
economic opportunities and related skills among the elderly, es-
pecially women. To avoid pending labor and productivity short-
falls with changing demographics, targeted programs to maintain
and upgrade skills among the elderly, for example through on-
the-job training and part-time educational arrangements, will be
critical for many economies.101 Despite common perceptions that
skills investments can be lost on older workers, this is not always
the case. For example, an evaluation in Estonia found that older
workers (aged 50 and over) experienced greater gains in income


ELDERLy yEARs


Challenges and some promising solutions


Market Biases


◆ Reforms toward equal retirement and pension ages for men and women


◆ Create targeted programs that upgrade skills among older women willing
to work


Old-Age Dependence


◆ Design pension policies that provide protection without discouraging
women’s work


“I do not have anyone to take
care of me, and I am alone... I
can only eat if I work.”

—Older woman, India, Voices
of the Poor: From Many Lands




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 65


and employment from training than younger and middle-aged
program participants.102 These opportunities are particularly im-
portant for older women, who are more likely to have discon-
tinuous employment histories resulting in weaker market-relevant
skills and experience. Research in Europe has also suggested that
new jobs for older women can be created by externalizing services,
such as childcare and other social services, which are otherwise
provided by women within the household. This, in turn, has the
potential to increase economic opportunities for both young and
older adult women while increasing early child development.103
Overall, despite the swelling importance of expanding the skills
and employment options of elderly women workers, very little
impact evaluation has documented the effectiveness of specific
policy interventions in developing countries.


Targeted social protection can help offset the cumulative dis-
advantage among elderly women and even benefit the next gen-
eration. Women are particularly disadvantaged by contributory
pension schemes for which the level of benefits received directly
depends on the number of years working in formal employment.
This leaves women, who spend a higher number of years out of
paid work or in informal jobs, with less adequate social protection
in old age, if any. Argentina has reformed its pension policy to
increase eligibility among the self-employed, which especially ben-
efits low-income women who concentrate into this type of work.104
In general, pension schemes are likely to provide low-earning


women with social protection
while still encouraging their
employment by combining
individual contributory ac-
counts with a non-contribu-
tory component designed to
keep women out of poverty
in old-age.105 Pension policies
can further help offset this
disadvantage by, for example,
including redistributive elements such as minimum income guar-
antees, flat-rate provisions, and income ceilings.106


Equitable social protection can also produce positive spillover
effects on younger generations.107 Two separate analyses in South
Africa found that pensions received by elderly women signifi-
cantly increased granddaughters’ educational enrollment and pos-
itive health outcomes. These effects did not pertain to boys, and
neither boys nor girls were affected when elderly men were the
benefit receivers.108 Similarly, in Brazil, R$100 (about US$43.50
in 2013) in monthly old-age pension benefits increased school
enrollment rates among girls by 10 percent. Again, no such effects
were found for boys, and impacts on girls were mostly attributable
to female rather than male benefits.109


This section has outlined policy options for addressing con-
straints to gender equality in the world of work that manifest in


Resource Box 4.2. identifying what works


Identifying credible evidence and filling knowledge gaps on
the most effective means for addressing specific problems is
a fundamental aspect of evidence-based decision-making. A
careful review of what is already known should always pre-
cede big decisions about policies, interventions, and evalu-
ations. The following are good places to start (see notes for
website links):


◆ enGender iMpaCT (World Bank Group): A new online
gateway to all World Bank impact evaluations on what
works, and what doesn’t, for gender equality and wom-
en’s empowerment across multiple outcome areas.110


◆ Campbell Collaboration: The Campbell Collaboration
publishes systematic reviews summarizing the interna-
tional research evidence on the effects of interventions
in crime and justice, education, international develop-
ment, and social welfare.111


◆ Gender action portal (Women and Public Policy Pro-
gram, Harvard University): This portal presents a vetted
collection of research evaluating the impact of specific
policies, strategies, and organizational practices in
closing gender gaps in economic opportunity, political
participation, health and education.112


◆ international initiative for impact evaluation (3ie): 3ie
funds and disseminates impact evaluations and system-


atic reviews that generate high quality evidence on what
works in development and why. A significant amount of
evidence can be found on development topics related to
gender equality throughout the lifecycle.113


◆ Jobs knowledge platform (multiple partners including
the World Bank): JKP aims to help decision-makers find
practical solutions to expand job creation and improve
job opportunities. The platform disseminates research
and data, mobilizes a community for sharing ideas and
experiences, and informs policy debates.114


◆ knowledge Gateway for Women’s economic empow-
erment (UN Women): The portal facilitates the sharing
of knowledge about what works and what does not in
improving women’s economic empowerment.115


◆ roadmap for promoting Women’s economic empow-
erment (The United Nations Foundation and Exxon-
Mobile): Priorities for action are recommended based
on an extensive review of research evidence. Com-
missioned studies aim to identify the most effective
interventions for empowering women economically in
four areas: entrepreneurship, farming, wage employ-
ment, and young women’s employment. The Website
includes reviews of what works as well as program
evaluations.116


“We, the older women, take
care of the children as well as
doing housework like cooking,
cleaning, and washing.”

—Older woman, urban
Bangladesh, Ageing in the 21st
Century




66 Gender at Work


different stages of the lifecycle. As the next chapter will discuss,
building the evidence on what works, and what does not, for dif-
ferent populations and settings is essential for policy and funding
decisions to promote gender equality. Meanwhile, there is a grow-
ing body of rigorous research and evaluation on different types of
policies and programs that can contribute to gender equality in
the world of work. We have highlighted some of the lessons that
emerge from this evidence base, but important resources exist to
connect policy-makers and practitioners with more targeted infor-
mation based on their needs. Resource Box 4.2 highlights some
useful examples, which can serve as starting points for identifying
promising policy options.


2. proactive leadership and innovation: private sector
actions


This section focuses on opportunities at three levels: making
gender equality a corporate and investment priority, improving
conditions for women’s opportunities within firms, and helping
women entrepreneurs’ access financial services and capital.


Making gender equality a corporate and investment
priority


Private sector firms can support gender equality in the world of
work in many important ways, including practices, investments,


and philanthropy. They can lead by example through hiring, staff
development, improving workplace conditions, and promotion.
As highlighted in chapter 1, it is not only the right thing to do; it
is also often good for the bottom line. The private sector’s impor-
tance is underscored by the fact that it supplies the vast majority of
jobs: ILO data indicate that the private sector accounts for about
three out of four jobs in countries like Egypt, Finland, and France
and nine out of 10 jobs in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Japan,
and South Africa.117 Most of these private sector jobs in develop-
ing countries are self-employed, which means that government
policies still have to play a very active role. Yet companies too
have important opportunities to promote gender equality through
their interactions with employees and entrepreneurs.


Many companies are proactively leading by example with
innovative strategies to advance gender equality in the world
of work. Some have adopted the Women’s Empowerment Princi-
ples, a voluntary framework promulgated by UN Women.118 For
instance, a leading Egyptian company for producing pharmaceu-
tical products, Chemical Industries Development (CID), made
gender equality a priority and followed up with actions includ-
ing subsidized daycare, an emphasis on equal pay for women and
men, employee training on gender equality, and fairer recruitment
standards. Denmor, a garment manufacturer in Guyana whose
employees are 98 percent impoverished women, has made con-
certed commitments regarding employee training, fringe benefits,


Box 4.3. Companies can help level the playing field for women’s work through corporate philanthropy


Recognizing the importance of long-term investments in gen-
der equality at different stages of the lifecycle, many compa-
nies have launched significant philanthropic and public ini-
tiatives. Although corporate philanthropy is not a substitute
for much-needed advances in corporate practice, it can be a
valuable component of a firm’s gender priorities—particularly
when private sector actions are coordinated with government
and civil society institutions. At such times corporate philan-
thropy can encourage, incubate, and test innovations with po-
tential for scale up through public policy.


Some companies have focused initiatives earlier in the life-
cycle. Intel, a multinational semiconductor chip maker, has
launched a global initiative, She Will Connect, to promote the
empowerment and education of girls and women around
the world by addressing gender-based barriers to STEM ed-
ucation and access to technology.119 Similarly, the Intel Learn
Program extends innovative informal education to youth in
developing countries to develop skills technology literacy,
problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.120 Nike,
a multinational apparel and equipment retailer, is a leading
partner behind The Girl Effect, a global movement to promote
adolescent girls’ empowerment.121 The Nike Foundation also
invests in specific projects empowering adolescent girls. It is a
partner with the World Bank, for example, on the Adolescent
Girls Initiative (AGI), which helps adolescent girls and young


women make successful school-to-work transitions in low-in-
come countries.122


Others aim to increase the immediate skills and economic op-
portunities of productive age women. Coca-Cola, the world’s
largest beverage company, started 5by20, a global initiative to
empower 5 million women entrepreneurs across the compa-
ny’s value chain by 2020.123 The initiative collaborates with the
International Finance Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, UN Women, and others to provide a range of key
linked services to women, including business skills training,
access to financial services, and support networks of peers
and mentors. Goldman Sachs, a multinational investment
banking firm, has led 10,000 Women, a five-year, US$100 mil-
lion global initiative providing 10,000 underserved women
entrepreneurs with business and management education, ac-
cess to mentors and networks, and links to capital.124 Walmart,
the world’s largest retailer, aims to increase sourcing from
women-owned businesses and gender diversity among major
suppliers, as well as committing US$100 million in grants to-
ward women’s economic empowerment.125 Walmart’s Women
in Factories Training Program is a five-year initiative that aims
to train 60,000 women in 150 factories and processing facili-
ties in a range of life skills; another 8,000 women will receive
additional leadership training toward personal and career de-
velopment.




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 67


and a comfortable work environment, and has reported higher
productivity and appeal to international clients as a result. Banco
do Brasil has placed special emphasis on promoting employees
with parental demands, and was the first financial institution in
the country to allow women six months of paid maternity leave,
including for adoptions. Banco do Brasil also offers paternity leave
and financial reimbursements for external childcare services, pre-
schools, and domestic help for parents with children under seven
and disabled children over seven. Many companies are also mak-
ing broader investments in gender equality beyond employees
through philanthropic priorities (Box 4.3).


Despite the growing number of good practice examples,
there is still much to do to increase gender as a priority in the
private sector. In a survey of approximately 40,000 employers
across 42 countries, only 2 percent of employers report having
adopted talent sourcing strategies to recruit more women.126 Very
few are implementing actions in their talent recruitment strate-
gies that could improve the attractiveness of workplaces to women
and reduce gender inequality, such as enhancing benefits (6 per-
cent), offering more flexible work arrangements (5 percent), and
providing virtual work options (2 percent).127 In a 2009 global
survey conducted by McKinsey & Company of nearly 2,300 se-
nior private sector executives, only 19 percent reported that their
companies were doing anything specifically focused on women,
either directly or indirectly.128 More can be done to increase the
importance of, and the business case for, gender equality in the
private sector.


International institutions can partner with the private sec-
tor on this agenda to encourage progress in making gender a
priority. For example, the World Economic Forum has launched
Gender Parity Task Forces in three countries: Japan, Mexico, and
Turkey.129 The task forces include 50–100 leaders and organiza-
tions (50–60 percent of which must be from the business commu-
nity) charged with accelerating progress toward women’s economic
integration. Ultimately, the task forces aim to close the economic
gender gap (as measured by the Global Gender Gap Index) by 10
percent in three years. The World Bank’s Gender Equity Model
(GEM) supports firms and provides certification for adopting
good practices in the areas of recruitment, career development,
family-work balance, and sexual harassment policies. The World
Bank provides technical assistance to government agencies on in-
ternational good practices, and governments work directly with
participating firms. Firms obtain certification after a preliminary
audit conducted by the government. Since the pilot in Mexico
in 2003, GEM has been replicated in 10 additional countries.130
While the initiative has not been rigorously evaluated, non-ex-
perimental results are encouraging. In Mexico, for example, firms
report increased promotions of women to managerial positions,
the elimination of pregnancy discrimination from recruiting prac-
tices, and higher worker performance and productivity.131


Outside these international initiatives, some national govern-
ments have directly encouraged firms to adopt gender as a pri-
ority. For example, the Australian government is pursuing an


innovative approach: it supports women leaders directly along
with organizing a group of influential male CEOs as advocates for
women’s empowerment in the private sector.132 Resource Box 4.3
outlines some resources available for private sector engagement
and leadership.


improving conditions for women’s opportunities with-
in firms


As employees, women and men can have different needs and
priorities. As the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC)
WINVest report highlights, many firms are reducing gender-spe-
cific barriers to women’s entry to good jobs as well as taking steps
to increase women’s representation in corporate management and
leadership—and they are seeing the payoffs.133 Women face gen-
der-specific constraints to work, which means that gender-specific
business strategies are typically needed. A survey of 7,000 Cana-
dian employees, for example, found significant gender differences
in workplace needs. Whereas long-term jobs security was a top
priority for both women and men, women placed higher levels of
importance than men on flexible working arrangements, accessi-
bility, a pleasant working atmosphere, a competitive salary, and
good work-life balance.134 Further quantitative and qualitative
research is needed to better understand differences in needs and
preferences between women and men workers in different types
of jobs and settings.


The following are good corporate practices that have increased
women’s employment or longevity in employment and shown a
return on investment:


◆ Setting up an employee data infrastructure that disaggregates
human resource data by sex to monitor the outcomes associ-
ated with company employment policies.


◆ Reviewing human resources policies and systems to ensure
women’s needs at work are met, including freedom from dis-
crimination and harassment.


◆ Attracting women into management, supervisory, and
non-traditional roles by, for example, providing targeted train-
ing, apprenticeship, and skills development opportunities.


◆ Creating family-friendly working environments through such
measures as establishing company-sponsored parental leave
for both women and men, encouraging work-life balance,
and providing or subsidizing childcare services that stimulate
child development and expand women’s time.


Businesses often need to take more concerted steps to en-
courage women’s work in non-traditional sectors. When
women are supported in entering male-dominated jobs, sectors,
and industries, positive results often “bust” myths about where
women can and cannot succeed. A recent IFC report cites ex-
amples in which companies in male-dominated sectors—such as
chemicals, construction, and mining—increase women’s partici-
pation through more concerted recruitment and increased fam-
ily-friendly work arrangements. In turn, the diversification often




68 Gender at Work


follows improvements in productivity and profitability. For ex-
ample, Odebrecht, a construction company, found that a major-
ity-female team performed faster electro-mechanical assembly on
a hydroelectric power plant construction site in Brazil than did
male-majority teams.135


Public-private partnerships can ensure better working con-
ditions to increase decent work for women and men. Although
safety is a concern for both women and men workers, in some
contexts risks may be disproportionate because of gender sorting
into different jobs and industries.136 Important efforts have ex-
panded women’s agency by improving the conditions, protections,
and opportunities for voice in vulnerable jobs. The ILO and IFC
have partnered on Better Work, an initiative to improve working
conditions in garment factories and promote private sector com-
petiveness in global supply chains.137 Non-experimental impact
assessments illustrate improvements in workers’ conditions during
the period of the program. For example, factory workers in Jordan
report a 50 percent reduction in frequent exhaustion or fatigue
and were 9 percent less likely to express safety concerns (from
2010–2012).138 And managers at Better Work factories in Viet-
nam report improved labor productivity as a result of changes the
program had facilitated.139


Finally, development agencies advocating steps toward gender
equality have themselves made efforts to lead by example. Box 4.4
reviews the World Bank’s work in this regard.


helping women entrepreneurs access financial ser-
vices and capital


Commercial lending institutions can help address credit con-
straints, which are a dominant factor behind gender differences
in firm size and performance.141 Of course, the disparities be-
tween women’s and men’s access to financial services and capital
are not products of markets alone. As highlighted in this report
and elsewhere, governments play a critical role in addressing other
essential pieces of the puzzle—by, for example, developing hu-
man capital, ensuring a fair regulatory environment, making key
infrastructure investments so that women can access financial ser-
vices, reducing corruption (which often disproportionately affects
women entrepreneurs), and ensuring women’s access to a range
of services needed to participate on equal terms in the world of
work.142


However, there are clear opportunities both for commercial
banks—in terms of access to the loans and services they provide—
and for businesses in related industries. Indeed, they are a key part
of the solution. An IFC study indicates that that up to 70 per-
cent of women are unserved or underserved by formal lenders.143
Yet there appears to be a disconnect between the need and banks’
perception of the need: 84 percent of representatives for commer-
cial banks surveyed in Latin America and the Caribbean do not
think that women are under-attended as a market segment, and
the majority considered themselves “gender-neutral.”144 The same


Box 4.4. starting from within: The World Bank group and gender equality at work


Even as international institutions advocate measures to foster
gender equality at work, many are themselves working to ful-
fill that vision internally. This includes the World Bank Group,
which has taken important steps but still has work to do.


To support a better work-family balance, the World Bank Group
offers employees the options of flexible work and temporary
home-based work if the supervisor approves. Up to 10 days of
short-term family leave are available to employees, and both
paid maternity leave (70 days per pregnancy or delivery) and
paternity leave (10 days per childbirth) are offered, though the
gender gap in the number of allowable days makes it difficult
to fully encourage equitable parenting roles. The World Bank
Group’s adoption leave policy is gender-neutral, offering the
primary caregiver, regardless of gender, up to 70 days of leave
for each eligible adoption or surrogacy. A World Bank Family
Network offers services to spouses to help make connections
to family and employment resources.


In terms of promoting women’s agency, the World Bank Group
has clear policies and mechanisms in place to address reports
of sexual harassment. It also has a robust Domestic Abuse Pre-
vention Program that comprises institution-wide awareness


activities, confidential services with a focus on early preven-
tion, and a network of local referrals around World Bank Group
facilities at headquarters and internationally.


With regard to staff representation and career opportunities,
the data still indicate room for growth. Women currently con-
stitute 42 percent of full-time professional staff in the World
Bank Group, 30 percent of high-level technical staff, and 36
percent of managers. These numbers remain lower than they
should be, although there has been some progress: From 2006,
the percentage of women among high-level technical staff
increased from 26 percent and the share of women manag-
ers increased from 28 percent. In the 2013 World Bank Group
Employee Engagement Survey, only 47 percent of women
responded favorably regarding developmental opportunities
on the job, compared with 55 percent of men. However, two-
thirds of both women and men agreed that they can take ad-
vantage of flexible work arrangements when needed. In terms
of an equitable environment, 68 percent of women and 71
percent of men agreed that staff members were treated fairly
regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, reli-
gion, sexual orientation, or disability.140




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 69


survey of 106 banks found that half did not collect sex-disaggre-
gated data on their lending portfolio to small and medium-size
enterprises (SMEs). These positions and lack of disaggregated data
significantly hamper banks’ capacity to engage women entrepre-
neurs as an under-tapped business market.


The IFC and its clients are working to change the tide. In Brazil,
for example, IFC’s investment and advisory services to Banco Itau
are supporting the development of a specific value proposition
for women-owned SMEs, including the use of psychometric cred-
it-risk scoring measures that are more women-friendly. In Nigeria,
the IFC has partnered with Access Bank to extend credit to wom-
en-owned distributors to bring more women into Coca-Coca’s
value chain and enable greater business growth.145


An IFC review of commercial bank practices to engage women
business owners in developing countries found emphasis on the
following activities: creating products and sources that alleviate
the burden of collateral, helping women business owners at the
start-up phase, and providing additional products and services
such as company insurance to enhance the capability of women to
run stronger businesses.146


Recent innovations highlight promising opportunities to ex-
tend finance to women entrepreneurs. The Harvard Entrepre-
neurial Finance Lab has found that psychometric testing to assess
credit-seekers’ honesty, intelligence and personality, along with
other traits can be successfully used to extend credit to women
entrepreneurs in developing countries who would otherwise have
a harder time securing credit through traditional means of as-
sessing risk, which focus on collateral and future cash flows.147
Village Capital, a start-up accelerator program, found that using
a peer selection process for determining which ventures to invest
in appeared to increase the likelihood of female-led ventures re-
ceiving investments.148 The IFC has set itself the goal of ensuring
that 25 percent of IFC loans provided to SMEs through financial


intermediaries go to women-owned businesses.149 Banks can also
increase the accessibility of their services to the poor by removing
or reducing barriers like minimum balance requirements. Open-
ing an account in Cameroon, for example, requires an initial
deposit of over US$700, which exceeds the country’s per capita
GDP.150


3. Closing data gaps and investing in knowledge


International development agencies play a vital role in contrib-
uting to global public goods by addressing key global and regional
data gaps and contributing to the evidence base of what works and
what does not. Here we address each of these in turn. Although
we highlight global knowledge gaps, it is important to recognize
that organizations like the World Bank, through their day-to-day
work, continually engage with client governments to help develop
collaborative research and data agendas that help fill those knowl-
edge gaps that are most pressing for the local context.


data gaps


Improving country-level indicators and monitoring is a
particularly important area in which the World Bank Group
can help clients build capacity. Good diagnostic and monitor-
ing data on key indicators for gender equality is unlikely to be
available if national statistics offices lack strong data systems or
valid and reliable indicators. In Nigeria, Paraguay, Vietnam, and
elsewhere the World Bank Group is working with national statis-
tical offices to improve the availability and use of gender-disag-
gregated data. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation allows teams
to track implementation of policy reforms and interventions over
time. When monitoring and evaluation include real-time feed-
back loops, they allow for evidence-informed midcourse correc-
tions where results are stalled and further scale-up where results
indicate success worth replicating. In Vietnam the government


Resource Box 4.3. Resources for private sector engagement and leadership


As private sector recognition of the business case for invest-
ing in gender equality grows, more resources are coming to
the fore to provide practical guidance, tools, networks, and
examples. The following are leading examples (see notes for
Website links):


◆ Better Work (IFC and ILO): An initiative to improve work-
ing conditions in garment factories and promote private
sector competiveness in global supply chains. Activities
include advisory services, tailored training, a dynamic
information management system, and a practical work-
place-assessment tool for measuring compliance with
international labor standards.151


◆ Global Banking alliance for Women: An international
consortium of financial institutions and other organiza-


tions interested in building women’s wealth worldwide.
GBA’s work focuses particularly on the needs of women
entrepreneurs running small and medium enterprises.152


◆ Winvest (International Finance Corporation): An
initiative that brings together IFC clients and partners
to generate private sector attention, ideas and best
practices around women’s employment. WINvest seeks
to provide tools and guidance that improve working
conditions for women while increasing business perfor-
mance.153


◆ Women’s empowerment principles (UN Global Com-
pact and UN Women): A set of principles for business
offering guidance on empowering women in the work-
place, marketplace and community.154




70 Gender at Work


adopted a set of national gender development indicators and cri-
teria for sex-disaggregated data to monitor implementation of its
Gender Equality Law. Among other things, the monitoring and
evaluation framework includes tracking of sex-disaggregated asset
ownership such as land use certificates.


For many important outcomes and constraints related to gen-
der equality in the world of work, recommended indicators and
guidance for measurement are now available through the United
Nations Gender Statistics Manual. The manual is targeted primar-
ily to statisticians working in less developed national statistical
systems and it can be used as resource material for training in
gender statistics. The online platform can be particularly useful
to World Bank Group staff and partners in government statistical
offices for improving the quantity and quality of available data in
key areas.155 The manual provides guidance, which reflects inter-
national agreement, on statistics in several topics central to this
report, including work, education, power and decision-making,
and violence against women, among others.


In an effort to coordinate international efforts to collect gender
relevant data, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Gender Sta-
tistics (IAEG-GS) picked 52 gender indicators—usually referred
as the “52 core indicators” on gender equality.156 Some indicators
(“type 1” indicators) are determined by the group to be concep-
tually clear: they have an agreed international definition and are
regularly produced by countries. However, other indicators are
either clear and defined but not regularly produced (“type 2”) or
lacking in international measurement standards as well as avail-
ability (“type 3”).157 Table 4.2 summarizes key indicators falling
into the latter two categories for which urgent action is needed to
close data gaps in topics addressed by this report.


In some areas data are available but sampling or phrasing raise
doubts about interpretations. An important example is that of
firm surveys that seek to understand gender disparities in enter-


prise ownership. For instance, surveys may currently ask whether
a firm has any female ownership. As a result, data indicate rela-
tively high levels of female firm ownership, but nothing is known
about the extent to which women’s ownership is merely nominal
or reflective of actual firm influence and decision-making author-
ity. The OECD, among others, has highlighted this issue with
respect to defining and studying female enterprises, noting the
lack of a common international framework for designing busi-
ness surveys.158 In addition to minimum gender indicators, several
other data gaps hinder evidence-based policy-making in the topics
addressed by this paper.


Regularized, comparable data on gender wage gaps, by oc-
cupation and industry, are not presently available. In the few
sources where gendered wage statistics are reported, these need to
be interpreted carefully and with caution. The coverage, defini-
tions and methods of compiling wage statistics differ significantly
from country to country, and data are rarely well-harmonized.
Additionally, statistics of wage rates reflect neither the influence
of changes in wage supplements nor the influence of variations
in hours of work. Where female workers generally work a much
smaller number of hours than male workers, these factors must be
kept in mind when interpreting the wage ratio. This is an import-
ant area of work for national governments and the international
donor community when improving the tracking and comparison
of a key indicator for understanding gender gaps in the world of
work.


Better designed household surveys are needed to capture
gender-specific control and ownership of agricultural re-
sources such as male-owned, female-owned, and jointly owned
assets. One exciting initiative is the new Living Standards Mea-
surement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA),
which is a US$19 million household survey project established
by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by


indicator Type


1. Average number of hours spent on unpaid domestic work by sex (Note: Separate housework and childcare if possible) 2


2. Average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work combined (total work burden), by sex 2


3. Percentage of firms owned by women, by size 3


4. Employment rate of persons aged 25–48 with a child under age 3 living in a household and with no children living in the household, by sex 3


5. Proportion of children under age 3 in formal care 3


6. Proportion of women aged 15–49 subjected to physical or sexual violence in the last 12 months by an intimate partner 2


7. Proportion of women aged 15–49 subjected to physical or sexual violence in the last 12 months by a non-partner 2


8. Proportion of adult population owning land 3


9. Informal employment as a percentage of total non-agricultural employment, by sex 2


10. Proportion of population with access to credit (and financial services), by sex 3


11. Share of female science, engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates at tertiary level 2


Table 4.2. Indicators where urgent action is needed to close data gaps




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 71


the World Bank. The project supports national statistics offices in
seven Sub-Saharan African countries in designing and implement-
ing multi-topic, nationally representative household surveys with
gender-disaggregated data and a strong focus on agriculture.


In terms of broad constraints to women’s work, reliable mea-
sures and better gender-disaggregated data are needed in areas
of emerging importance. For example, regularized, compara-
ble, and gender-disaggregated data are missing on important but
tough-to-measure outcomes such as aspirations and non-cognitive
skills. Efforts should start with development of better measures
and piloting them across multiple developing-country contexts,
coupled with seeking to understand which types of measures are
most relevant to present or future economic opportunities. Simi-
larly, there are very few data in developing countries on workplace
harassment or guidance on how to measure it. Data on domestic
violence are not collected as frequently or in as many countries
as needed. The new UN gender statistical guidance mentioned
above provides standards on collecting key gender-based violence
indicators.159 Guidance for safe and ethical data collection on
gender-based violence is provided by the World Health Organiza-
tion.160 Further, most multi-country violence against women sur-
veys do not include longitudinal designs or economic outcomes,
making it difficult to assess relationships between violence and
work. While there is agreement on how to measure physical and
sexual intimate partner violence, there is less agreement and prac-
tice on measuring emotional or economic forms of violence, or
non-partner types of domestic violence (such as in-law abuse or
gender-based elderly abuse).


knowledge investments


Despite the recent progress and the accumulation of evi-
dence and knowledge about some interventions, major knowl-
edge gaps still exist on what works, and what does not, for pro-
moting gender equality in the world of work. These gaps place
significant constraints on policy makers’ and funders’ capacity to
make well-informed decisions that can translate gender-informed
analysis into policy actions. Evidence from high-quality impact
and process studies can inform decisions about the interventions
and approaches that have the greatest probability of improving
gender outcomes in the world of work and beyond. Nonetheless,
in many policy topics covered by this report, the challenges are
exacerbated by urgent knowledge gaps on what works, and under
what circumstances, to improve outcomes. Improving the quan-
tity and quality of research evidence in developing contexts should
be a priority. This report and recent reviews have highlighted the
following particularly urgent areas for more rigorous and general-
izable evaluation:


◆ Gender-transformative interventions, especially during youth.
Adolescence and youth can be an ideal period to reach young
people, both male and female, with interventions designed to
encourage more gender–equitable norms and attitudes. Al-
though promising gender-transformative interventions have
been tested in schools and communities, these have largely


involved non-randomized designs, relatively small sample
sizes, and short follow-up periods.161 Programs and curricular
reforms in schools may be especially promising given the in-
frastructure for scale-up, but evaluations are needed.


◆ Agricultural interventions focusing on women farmers—or more
broadly, but with outcomes disaggregated by sex.162 Evaluations
are needed to help understand (1) the right combinations and
sequencing of interventions needed to help women farmers
be as productive and profitable as men farmers and (2) what
interventions help women to penetrate different segments
of agricultural value chains. Future research can also help
pinpoint the most significant constraints, both supply- and
demand-side, to women’s participation in extension services
and access to innovative technologies; it can also test different
approaches to respond.


◆ Means of extending financial services to impoverished women.
Only recently have data been systematically compiled and
analyzed to study gender disadvantage in access to financial
services beyond credit. Public and private sector approaches
are coming to the fore, such as mobile banking, women-only
banks, tailored financial instruments for women entrepre-
neurs, and more-targeted marketing strategies. However, re-
search shows that women face multiple barriers to financial
services, and most strategies lack rigorous evaluation. Addi-
tionally, future evaluations need to consider effects of inter-
ventions on both access and wider empowerment outcomes,
as these do not always move in the same direction.163


◆ Effective and efficient child and elderly care policies. A growing
body of evidence demonstrates the positive effects of external
childcare arrangements on both women’s economic outcomes
and children’s healthy development. However, more evalu-
ation is needed to better understand what types of policies
work best in developing contexts and under what circum-
stances. Additionally, programs may be inefficient if they
crowd out affordable private sector options, or if program
costs outweigh returns through gains for women’s earnings
and child development. Evaluations should test and compare
different models, such as voucher-based systems versus gov-
ernment managed centers.164 The evidence is extremely thin
in developing countries on effective, affordable, and culturally
appropriate policies to address growing elderly care demands
on women’s time, as well as policy options to increase men’s
time allocation to caring and other domestic responsibilities.


◆ Interventions to increase women’s work, entrepreneurship, and
success in male-dominated sectors and jobs.165 This can include,
for example, targeted recruitment strategies, quotas, im-
proved workplace conditions, and informational interven-
tions on market options. As women enter male-dominated
work, monitoring and evaluation should continue to track
women’s experiences, retention, and outcomes to ensure that
working experiences are conducive to women’s well-being
and success.




72 Gender at Work


◆ Employment programs focusing on older women—or more
broadly, but with outcomes disaggregated by sex. The elderly de-
mographic is growing in importance, as increased statutory
and corporate retirement ages in many countries to keep up
with increased life expectancies will mean longer working
years. Very little rigorous evaluation has been conducted in
developing countries on the effects of employment interven-
tions and labor policies on older workers generally, but espe-
cially with respect to gender-disaggregated effects and gen-
der-specific interventions.


◆ Multicomponent programs that boost women’s economic oppor-
tunities and agency simultaneously. Combining simultaneous
policy interventions and components to address agency and
economic opportunities will render the prospect of gender
equality in the world of work much more attainable. It may
be especially important for the most vulnerable women, who
face multiple constraints and therefore might be excluded
from simpler interventions that screen women based on their
likelihood to succeed. Promising interventions with women
employees, entrepreneurs, and farmers, for instance, might
combine strategic programmatic elements or services to in-
crease vocational, business, or trade-related skills; aspirations
and confidence; social networks; freedom from violence; and
healthy gender dynamics in the household. Better evidence
on what types of complex interventions are most effective,
and for whom, in a range of developing contexts is needed.
Well-planned impact evaluation designs, complemented by
good process evaluations, can help identify which program-
matic components are most important and what types of cir-
cumstances and delivery are needed to achieve optimal out-
comes.166 There is a growing body of expertise on methods for
developing and evaluating complex interventions over time,
and this should help guide future work so that knowledge
gaps are filled more systematically.167


The World Bank Group has several initiatives contributing to
the production and dissemination of better evidence related to
policies and programs for gender equality in the world of work.
It recently launched enGENDER IMPACT as a gateway to gen-
der-related World Bank impact evaluations to promote global
knowledge sharing and production.168 The effort complements
gender innovation and evaluation initiatives in regional teams
like Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.
In addition, the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab—in
partnership with units across the World Bank, aid agencies and
donors, governments, non-governmental organizations, private
sector firms, and researchers—carries out rigorous impact eval-
uations and designs gender-innovative interventions in the areas
of agricultural productivity, entrepreneurship, employment, and
economic empowerment. The Lab aims to build the evidence base
on how to close the gender gap in earnings, productivity, assets,
property rights, and agency. Finally, In the Latin America and the
Caribbean region, the Gender Impact Evaluation Initiative was
launched in 2013 as an effort to strengthen awareness, knowl-


edge, and capacity for gender-informed policy-making by con-
ducting impact evaluations that fill key knowledge gaps, offering
technical assistance, and disseminating evidence and partnering
to build knowledge. The initiative focuses both on increasing and
measuring agency and on improving our understanding of how
an agency approach can be used to complement interventions for
expanding economic opportunities and human capital.


ConClusions
It is clear that jobs are a vital contributor to people’s well-be-


ing and to countries’ development prospects. The WDR 2013
emphasized that the types of jobs created determine the develop-
ment value they offer in a particular context. As this report has
emphasized, increasing jobs—and equitable access to jobs—that
empower women and contribute to gender equality can increase
development impact through better living standards, productivity,
and social cohesion. Given the widespread nature of gender gaps
in the world of work, there are rarely exceptions to the impor-
tance of making gender equality a priority in country job strate-
gies; though the specific focuses and actions will vary according to
countries’ unique jobs challenges.


The good news is that major progress has been made in recent
decades for gender equality in areas such as health and educa-
tion—progress that may contribute to broader achievements in
the world of work in the future. Women’s labor force participation
has markedly improved in Latin America and the Caribbean, as
have laws promoting gender equality in many countries. Other
disparities have been much more stubborn, however, and it is clear
that more targeted and coordinated actions are needed to translate
human capital gains into more equitable economic opportunities.


There is no magic key to unlocking gender equality in the world
of work. Even well-designed interventions can have muted im-
pacts in isolation.169 Closing gaps in school enrolment with cash
transfers may not overcome differences in completion rates and
economic opportunities if girls are pulled out early for domestic
work or if teaching is gender-biased. Training women on how to
start businesses will still leave female entrepreneurs with smaller
firms if they lack access to credit or technology. Hiring more
women into wage jobs will not erase pay gaps if they have to spend
more time caring for children and elderly family members than
their male counterparts.


Bold, concerted, multi-sectoral efforts across the lifecycle, how-
ever, can help level the playing field for girls and women. The fun-
damentals that need to be addressed are now well established, and
the body of evidence that can inform policy options is better than
ever before. Drawing on experience from their own countries as
well as others, policy makers can now use an increasingly sophisti-
cated set of tools to design effective, country-specific, tailor-made
packages of linked interventions across sectors.


A gender-smart jobs strategy is a long-term commitment that
requires coordinating policy across the public and private sec-
tors on the basis of country-specific diagnostics. Fortunately, in




Igniting Gender Equality in the World of Work 73


a world where half of women’s productive potential globally is
unutilized, gender equality in the world of work is a win-win
for development and for business. The commitment begins with
fostering girls’ and boys’ skills and aspirations equally from their
earliest days; it stays with them long enough to see that future
generations enjoy a more equitable and prosperous world. And,
ultimately, investing in gender equality is a prerequisite for ending
extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity for all.


noTes
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2. Ibid.


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74 Gender at Work


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51. A conservative estimate using data from 73 low- and middle-income
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56. Ibid.


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“We know that reducing gender gaps in the world of work can yield broad development dividends: improving child health
and education, enhancing poverty reduction, and catalyzing productivity. Empowering women and girls is vital in order to


achieve our twin goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity.”


World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, from the Foreword


World Bank Group Gender & Development
www.worldbank.org/gender




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