Employing more women in the workforce could add almost $5.8 trillion (Rs 372 lakh crore) to the global economy, according to a new study by the United Nations International Labour Organisation. Currently, there is 49.4% women participation in the labour force, about 26.7% less than that of men.
“The fact that half of women worldwide are out of the labour force when 58% of them would prefer to work at paid jobs is a strong indication that there are significant challenges restricting their capabilities and freedom to participate,” said Deborah Greenfield, the ILO deputy director-general for policy.
According to the report, titled “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trend for Women 2017”, the gender gap is largest in Southern Asia, Arab States and North Africa at 50%. These regions have also recorded the lowest level of female participation rates – they are 30% less than the global average of 49%.
The unemployment rate among women, globally, stands at 6.2% in 2017, while for men it is at 5.5%. According to the report, women are less likely to participate in the labour force. However when they do, they are more likely to be unemployed compared to men. Greenfield says the immediate step should be to address the concerns faced by the women who choose to enter the labour market and “address the barriers they are confronted with once they are in the workplace”.
Women are also likely to work longer hours than men when both paid and unpaid work are taken into account, the ILO report adds. “When in paid employment, on average, women work fewer hours for pay or profit either because they opt for work part time or because part-time work is the only option available to them,” it said.
The G20 leaders had committed in 2014 to reduce the gender gap in employment by 25% by 2025. The report says if this goal were to be met, the global employment would potentially be boosted by 5.3%. “Such an outcome would yield significant economic gains, raising the global GDP in 2025 by 3.9%, or $5.8 trillion,” it says.