UNDP Regional Centre in Panama
In recent decades, the world has witnessed significant sociodemographic, environmental and economic changes that have brought new challenges in the achievement of a broad and equitable development. One of the most significant economic and social changes experienced worldwide has been the massive incorporation of women into the productive economic activity. There are a lot of factors which originated this phenomenon: a decline in the fertility rate, a rise in their educational level, the historical claims of women and feminists’ movements, the need for states and the labor market to increase their workforce, as well as the need of families to improve their income; but, among all, the gender roles transformation and the women’s own motivation have contributed to these key changes.
However, even these transformation processes bear gender gaps since women face significant barriers to achieve full equality. The global working participation rate for women stood at 50.3% in 2014, while the rate for men was 76.7% – which represents a gender participation gap of about 26%. Moreover, vulnerability and informality in female employment is higher in all regions of the world: the vulnerable employment in North Africa is 55% versus 32% for men, in Middle East is 42% compared to a 27%, while in sub-Saharan Africa nearly 85% of women are involved in informal employments.