In every country around the world, women face multiple barriers and gender-based discrimination in the workplace. The discrimination sets in early—from the kind of education girls get or till which age, to the kind of work they are channeled into. In both private and public spheres, women face occupational segregation, and multiple barriers—such as lack of access to land, capital, financial resources, and technology, as well as gender-based violence—due to cultural mindsets and stereotypes. These obstacles make it harder for women to get on an equal footing with men in the world of work. Legal barriers further compound gender inequalities.
Women are concentrated in lower-paid, lower-skill work with greater job insecurity and under-represented in decision-making roles and fields such as science and technology. Today, half the global working population works in services, a sector where women dominate. Women’s leadership and representation in trade unions, worker and employer organizations and corporate boards is critical to upholding fundamental labour rights and ensuring decent work for all.
Women are more likely to be unemployed than men worldwide, with wide disparities regionally.
From cooking and cleaning, to fetching water and firewood or taking care of children and the elderly, women bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid work across the world. Unpaid work supports the economy and often fills in for lack of public expenditures on social services and infrastructure. In fact, unpaid care and domestic work is valued to be 10 and 39 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. This means it can contribute more to the economy than the manufacturing, commerce or transportation sectors. Besides men taking on a great share, policies that reduce and redistribute women’s and girls’ unpaid work, expand paid jobs in care services, and provide social protection and basic infrastructure, such as access to clean water, are essential for women to enter and remain in the paid labour force and realize their full economic potential.
Globally, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn. This is a major cause of lifetime income inequality. At current rates, it will take 70 years to close this gap.