ILO celebrated Women’s Day by pointing out the persisting work-related gender gaps

gender gap

In spite of noteworthy progress over the past 20 years, the newly updated report released on the eve of Women’s Day by International Labor Organization (ILO) shows tireless inequalities between women and men in regards to the access to workforce, unemployment, and the conditions at work. The report found that less than two percent improvement between the genders in the last 27 years.

Simply put, there are still fewer women than men in US jobs and women are more likely to be employed in most parts of the world. Doesn’t that point to the fact that women’s progress has come to a plateau? A recent Pew Research Center report indicated that women will never make up half of the US workforce. The data stated, “The female share of the labor force will peak at 47.1% in 2025 and then taper off to 46.3% by 2060.”

Several possible reasons for the decline in women’s labor force participation since 1999 are defined by Pew Research Center:

  • The changing gender role attitudes
  • More single women are going to school
  • Aging and retirement
  • Mothers with children younger than 18 are less likely to participate in the workforce now than they were in 2000, particularly less- educated mothers.

There’s a lot left to do to promote equality. Some barriers that prevent women from entering the labor market haven’t been addressed by lawmakers. If lawmakers add more policies to encourage women to work, then women might even surpass men in terms of participation. For instance, paid family leaves and access to affordable and good quality childcare could propose a way to include women in the labor force, taking care of their highest priority.

As a human race, we need to do more to reverse this unacceptable trend by demanding to place more policies tailored to women because of the unfair demands they face in household and care responsibilities.

Between Countries

Differences in unemployment rates between men and women in developed countries are relatively small. On contrary, regions such as the Arab States and Northern Africa, female unemployment rates are still twice as large as men’s, due to the prevailing societal and social norms that continue to obstruct women’s participation in employment. This gap between men and women is narrowing in developing and developed countries while it keeps widening in emerging countries. This is a reflection of the fact that a growing number of women in these countries have joined formal education which delays their entry into the labor market.

In 2018, four times as many men were working as employers than women. This gender gap is also reflected in management positions when women also continue to face a barrier to access management positions.  This is despite that fact that they are likely to be better educated than their male colleagues. Education is not the chief reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women, but rather that women do not receive the same returns for education as men.”


The gap in wages between male and female workers in rural India is not only huge but nothing has been done about it. Women in rural India form one of the poorest sections of the population. The difference between the income of men and women is a very important indicator of gender inequality.

The size of the Indian economy has grown a lot since a decade. As the economy progresses further, it is desirable that the dividends of high growth be distributed equally among the genders. But alas, the overall picture still looks dull as women still haven’t benefited as much as the men.

Women often resort to ‘informal’ jobs which lack social protection and are also found in vulnerable occupations like family work, domestic or home-based work. 

Take a look at the agriculture sector. Women get paid 72 percent of what men get paid these days. A decade ago, women were paid about 70 percent of what men got paid. In 10 years, the situation seems to have hardly gotten better.

In the non-agricultural sector, women get paid 72 percent of what men earn in rural construction work. Five years back, they were paid 74 percent of what the men got paid.

Major Leap for a Solution

India may have a fast growing economy but the gender pay gap remains a bleak situation. There is a long way to go and much to be done. Women’s economic empowerment boosts efficiency, increases economic expansion and income fairness in addition to other positive development outcomes. To create a better future for women in the workplace, it’s time for a policy that would transform the face of employment.

This International Women’s Day, ditch the flowers and the chocolates. If you really want to wish every woman well, then raise the question at your workspace. How many women are in the management compared to the men? Are they paid equally? Are the women retained as long as men in the workplace?


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