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World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for women 2017

Thematic Issue
Women's Economic Empowerment
Year Issued
Name of Authority

In 2017, the largest gender gap in participation rates, at nearly 31 percentage points, is faced by women in emerging countries, followed by those in developed countries, at just over 16 percentage points, and in developing countries, with a gap of 12 percentage points. In terms of regions, the gaps are widest in the Arab States, Northern Africa and Southern Asia, where they exceed 50 percentage points. These three regions also have the lowest levels of female participation rates (less than 30 per cent, compared to the global average of 49 per cent). Looking ahead to 2021, out of the 11 subregions with available information, the gap is expected to narrow in only six. In other instances it is anticipated that the gap will widen or remain stable. In light of the continuing lack of adequate progress in improving the situation of women in the labour market, the ILO Director-General has launched the Women at Work Centenary Initiative. This initiative intends to identify innovative action that could give new impetus to the ILO’s work on gender equality and non-discrimination in the run-up to and following the ILO’s centenary in 2019. The information provided in this report constitutes a key building block in moving that agenda forward.