Reducing gender gaps would significantly benefit women, society and the economy, a new International Labour Organisation (ILO) report has revealed.
It shows that closing the gender gap by 25 per cent by 2025 could add 5.8 trillion dollars to the global economy and boost tax revenue.
The report, dubbed: “World Employment and Social Outlook Trends for Women 2017” was made available on Thursday to the Ghana News Agency.
The report said gender gaps remained one of the most pressing challenges facing the world of work.
It shows that women were substantially less likely than men to participate in the labour market and once in the job market, they were less likely than men to find a job and the quality of employment they find remains a key concern.
“Helping women access the labour market is nevertheless an important first step. Yet, in 2017, the global labour force participation rate for women – at just over 49 per cent – is nearly 27 percentage points lower than the rate for men and is forecast to remain unchanged in 2018,” it said.
The report said in 2014 G20 leaders made a commitment to reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women by 25 per cent by the year 2025.
The report estimates that if this goal was realised at the global level, it has the potential to add 5.8 trillion dollars to the global economy; this could also unlock large potential tax revenues.
It said, for example, that global tax revenue could increase by 1.5 trillion dollars with most of it in emerging and developed countries.
The report said Northern Africa, the Arab States and Southern Asia would see the greatest benefits as the gaps in participation rates between men and women exceeded 50 percentage points in these regions.
It noted that on top of the significant economic benefits, engaging more women in the world of work would have a positive impact on their well-being since most women would like to work.
The report said the most immediate concern for policy makers, therefore, should be to alleviate the constraints that women faced in choosing to enter the labour market and address the barriers they were confronted with at the workplace.
The report said when women do participate in the labour market they were more likely than their male counterparts to be unemployed.
It said globally, the unemployment rate for women stood at 6.2 per cent in 2017, representing a gap of 0.7 percentage points from the male unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent.
The report said among employed women worldwide, nearly 15 per cent were contributing family workers compared to over five per cent among men.
It said in developing countries where nearly 36.6 per cent of women and only 17.2 per cent of men were employed as contributing family workers, the gap was widest at 19 percentage points.
“We need to start by changing our attitudes towards the role of women in the world of work and in society. Far too often some members of society still fall back on the excuse that it is “unacceptable” for a woman to have a paid job,” said Steven Tobin, lead author of the report.
The report called for comprehensive measures to improve equality in labour conditions and reshape gender roles.
These include promoting equal pay for work of equal value, tackling the root causes of occupational and sectoral segregation and transforming institutions to eliminate discrimination, violence and harassment against women in the world of work.