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Elder, S. (2010). Women in labour markets: measuring progress and identifying challenges. International Labour Organization.

By Ma WenXin (EQD170002)

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The report Women in labour markets: measuring progress and identifying challenges, uses the 12 of the 18 indicators of the labour market to measure progress in achieving the goal of gender equality in the world of work and to identify where and why the causes of the persistence of equality in the labour market persist. Key Indicators of the Labour Market (KILM), is a collection of country-level data, these data was collection of labour market indicators for approximately 200 countries, areas, and territories. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations body dealing with labour issues, in particular international labour standards, social protection and job opportunities for all. Since 1919, the ILO has brought together governments, employers and workers in 187 member States. The ILO’s goal is to develop labour standards and to develop policies to promote decent work for all men and women.

The objective of the report is by using the KILM indicator present the latest female portraits in the world of work. Second, it to proposing the advantages and disadvantages of available labour market indicators as a measure of women’s economic activity and next is to familiarize readers with labour market information as a tool for gender analysis and decision-making. The last objective is emphasizing the labour market imbalances motive power actions to promote gender equality in the world of work.

The report focuses on the relationship between women and the labour market and makes the best possible comparison between men and women on the basis of labour market indicators based on the ILO Key Indicators of the Labour Market. From 1980 to 2008, the participation rate of women’s labour increased from 50.2 to 51.7% (Figure 7, Global female labour force participation rate by age band, 1980 to 2008). In countries and regions, the rate of participation at the beginning of the period is more dramatic than the world average. But in some countries, the female labor force participation rate is much higher than the median of 1980, which may be due to the widespread poverty phenomenon and the necessity to work for survival, so the unemployment rate is decreasing. This means that as time goes on, there is a general increase in the distance between women’s economic participation and contraction and the participation of countries with low level and high level. On the participation rate of male labor force showed a slight decline. The result of this report is as the time goes on, the gender difference in labor participation rate has dropped to 26 percentage points (2008), while in 1980 it is at 32 percentage points.

In this report, Labour market information and analysis (LMIA) should be seen as the cornerstone of a comprehensive strategy to facilitate the work of standards and fundamental principles and rights, productive employment, social protection and dialogue and addressing cross-cutting themes of gender and development. The purpose of LMIA is to responsible for labour market analysis, monitoring and reporting on employment and labour policies, and LMIA also is a mechanism to exchange information or coordinate different actors and institutions that produce and utilize labour market information and analysis

In Women in labour markets: measuring progress and identifying, women’s employment trends are analysed around three analytical themes: Labour Utilization, Labour Underutilization and Female Employment: where and how women work. And in each analytical theme, are based on the KILM.

The first analysing the female labour market is Labour Utilization, the aim of Labour Utilization is to measure the capacity of an economy to utilize the productive potential of its available human resources. It has 4 indicators, first is distribution of the working-age population by main activity status, this indicator shows the distribution of the working-age population of women and men (over the age of 15) based on global and regional estimates, major economic conditions there are inactive, employed or unemployed. The pie charts (Figure 1) representing the global working-age population in the report shows nearly half (48.4%) of the female productive potential are not yet been developed from inactive to employed; compared to men are just only 22.3%.  The second indicator is Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) (KILM1), is an indicator of the proportion of the working-age population in a country actively participating or seeking employment in the labor market. In the report, the LFPR is expressed as the sum of employment and unemployment. In 2009, the ranking form highest proportion of ecomnomically active women by regions isEast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Developed economies and European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle-East and South Europe (Non-EU) and CIS, South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The third is Employment-to-Population Ratio (EPR) (KILM2) is defined as the proportion of the working age population of a country. In Figure 8, Youth and adult female EPR, by region, 1999 and 2009, shows a group of bar chart compare the EPRs among adult and youth on 1999 and 2009. In this 10 years youth that working in most of the region are decreses like East Asia, South-East Asia & the Pacific; but at the same time still has some slight increase at Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. The main issue that the numbers of youth are decreases because the opportunity to receive education is higher. The last indicator is Inactivity Rate (KILM13); it represents the inverse of the LFPR and its trends. In the case of the female LFPR increased female inactivity rate reduced by the same amount, and vice versa. This is a measure of the proportion of working-age people who are not working or looking for a job.

The second analysing the female labour market is Labour Underutilization, the main objective of monitoring labour markets is to assess the extent to which the economy is fully utilizing its available human resources. It has 2 indicators, there are Unemployment Rate (KILM8) and Time-related Underemplyment (KILM12). The first indicator is a widely used measure of the underutilized supply of labor and reflect the performance of the labor market and the economy as a whole. The second indicator, the result form Figure 10 shows thatin 55 countries women bear a significantly larger burden of the only currently available measure of underemployment, time-related underemployment.

The last analysis theme is Female Employment: where and how women work, the focus is on identifying what the increase in female labour force participation over time has really meant in terms of the well-being of women in the world of work. The last 6 indicators are Status in Employment (KILM 3), Employment by Sector (KILM 4), Informal Employment, Part-time Workers (KILM 5), Educational Attainment of the Labour Force (KILM 14), and Occupational Wage and Earning Indices  and Gender Differentials (KILM16).

In report Figure 11 (Global and regional distribution of total employment by status, by sex, 2009) shows the distribution of employed men and women by employment status in 2009. The gender gap is huge (as affected) and summarized as follows:

1.      Wage workers: The global ratio of wage and salary workers is reasonably equal between men and women. The global share of women in 2009 was 47.3% while that of men was 48.6%, while in 1999 women and men were 42.8% and 44.9% respectively.

2.      Employer: Men have a greater propensity than women to become owners of an employee’s business.

3.      Self-employed worker: Regional diversification mode, all regions except North Africa and the Middle East, the proportion of men in self-employment are high. As an indicator, it is less relevant to the more developed economies, especially developed and EU economies. The situation is particularly pronounced in all parts of Asia, where the proportion of women in unpaid domestic work is higher than that of men. After Asia, Africa and the Middle East showed the biggest difference.


From a gender perspective, part-time work is one of the most important indicators describing the characteristics of a female labour force, as well as status and department. Unfortunately, this indicator does not have much to do with many developing economies. but for developed economies and those in the EU, Central and Eastern Europe (non-EU) and the CIS and Latin America and the Caribbean, this indicator remains highly relevant, especially for women. In fact, getting part-time jobs has been an important motivator for women’s economic participation in these areas over the past two decades.

The major causes of female inequality are found in the socio-cultural traditions of countries, because it remain deeply embedded in employment structures and the system of economic measurement. In other hand, the report shows the gap between the number of economically active men and women has been slowly decreasing. Even the women who choose to enter the labour market are generally highly educated but still face a difficult time in finding work, because of the female need to combine family responsibilities with paid employment, so, the earning potential of women continues to be well below that of men.

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