“The gender gap at work is much worse than expected”

ILO data shows that 15% of working-age women worldwide want to work but do not have a job, compared to 10.5% of men. — AFP

GENEVA: The United Nations said on Monday that it is harder for women to gain access to global work than previously thought, and that the gender gap in working conditions and wages has barely narrowed in two decades.

The United Nations’ International Labor Organization says it has developed a new indicator that works better than the official unemployment rate to capture all unemployed people interested in finding work.

Two days before International Women’s Day, the ILO said in a statement: “This paints a bleaker picture of the situation of women in the world of work than the commonly used unemployment rate.”

“New data shows women have much harder time finding work than men.”

According to new data from the ILO, 15% of working-age women in the world want to work but do not have a job, compared to 10.5% of men.

“This gender gap has remained almost unchanged for two decades,” he said.

In contrast, the official unemployment rate between women and men is very similar.

This, the ILO says, means that the criteria used to determine whether someone should be officially considered unemployed disproportionately excludes women.

She pointed out that personal and family responsibilities, including unpaid care work, disproportionately affect women.

There, such activities often not only prevent women from working, but also allow them to actively seek work or work for a short period of time, which are criteria for being recognized as unemployed.

The UN Labor Organization found that the job gap is particularly acute in low-income countries, where nearly a quarter of women cannot find work.

For men, the corresponding figure was less than 17%, the ILO said.

Access to work is not the only problem.

The ILO notes that women are more likely to perform certain types of vulnerable work, including assisting in relatives’ businesses rather than self-employed.

“This vulnerability, along with lower employment rates, affects women’s earnings,” the ILO said.

“Globally, for every dollar of earnings earned by men, women earn only 51 cents.”

Meanwhile, the wage gap varies widely between regions, falling to 33 cents in low-income countries but reaching 58 cents in high-income countries.

“This striking disparity in earnings is due to women’s low employment rates, as well as their low average earnings when they do work,” the ILO said.

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