Equality in Employment

Women’s working conditions have vital implications for children. Women generally work more, but earn and own less than men. Ensuring that women and men have equal opportunities to generate and manage income is an important step towards realizing women’s rights, which will lead to a greater likelihood that children’s rights will be fulfilled.

There has been great progress in recent decades in engaging women in the labour force, but there has been less progress on improving the conditions under which women work, recognizing their unpaid work, eliminating discriminatory practices and laws related to property and inheritance rights, and providing support for child care.

  • A survey of eight developing countries with data showed that women work an average of 1 hour and 9 minutes more than men each day. In some settings, women work more than 12 hours a day.
  • By 2005, women accounted for roughly 40 per cent of the world’s economically active population. Women’s estimated earned income is about 30 per cent of that of men’s in the surveyed countries in the Middle East and North Africa, 40 per cent in Latin America and South Asia, 50 per cent in Sub Saharan Africa and 60 per cent in CEE/CIS, East Asia and industrialized countries.
  • Women own fewer assets than men due to smaller salaries, lack of control over household income, gender biases in property and inheritance laws and even state land distribution programs. These factors leave women and children at greater risk of poverty.
  • In Latin America, women own a fraction of the land compared to men ranging from 11 percent vs. 89 per cent in Brazil and 27 percent vs. 70 percent in Paraguay. In sub-Saharan Africa, the pattern is the same. In Cameroon, for example, women undertake more than 75 per cent of agriculture work, but they own less than 10 per cent of the land.

Giving women more control over land and farm planning can enhance agricultural productivity.

  • An International Food Policy Research Institute study reveals that if gender inequalities were reduced in Burkina Faso, and men and women farmers were given equal access to quality agriculture inputs and education, productivity could rise by as much as 20 per cent.

In nearly all developing regions, 60 per cent or more of women engaged in non-agricultural work are in informal employment, often facing difficult working conditions, long hours, lack of benefits and job security. In India, 86 per cent of women work in the informal sector, in Kenya 83 per cent and El Salvador 69 per cent.

In many countries, high-quality childcare remains prohibitively expensive for low-income families in the absence of state provision or subsidies. Parents often rely on extended family members or older children – most often girls – to provide childcare while they work, often at the expense of children’s education.