Why women are made to rely on vulnerable work


By Maria C. Lo Bue, Research Associate at UNU-WIDER, Lecturer in the Department of Economics and Finance, University of Bari; Tu Thi Ngoc Le, Tu Thi Ngoc Le, PhD in Economics, Hoa Sen University; Manuel Santos Silva, Postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Economics, University of Münster; and Kunal Sen, Director of UNU-WIDER; Professor of Development Economics at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester


The gender pay-gap is one of the foremost indicators of gender inequality and thus a guide for women’s economic empowerment policies. Although there is abundant data available on the phenomenon in OECD economies, this is not the case for the majority of developing countries, where most workers are self-employed and do not receive a regular wage, making it difficult to measure “pay gaps for similar work”. In a recent study for the United Nations University, we took a different approach, examining the gender gap in vulnerable employment in 101 developing countries worldwide. The results have important implications for policymakers.

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A new social contract for a job-rich recovery

By Paola Simonetti, Deputy Director, Economic and Social Policy Department, ITUC

“People are no longer coming to the kiosk to buy tea since the pandemic outbreak started. I am the breadwinner of a family of nine. On many days I don’t earn a single shilling and return home empty handed”. This is the story of Jamila, a tea kiosk holder in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her story is also the story of around 2 billion informal workers worldwide who have been left to cope with the crisis on their own.

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Intensifier les possibilités d’emploi dans les systèmes alimentaires pour les jeunes et les femmes en Afrique de l’Ouest

Par Koffi Zougbédé, Secrétariat du Club du Sahel et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest

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En 2011, Fatoumata Cissoko, jeune femme vivant en Guinée et diplômée en comptabilité, a lancé sa société de transformation de fruits secs avec 260 USD. Elle produit environ 16 tonnes d’ananas séché par an vendu dans de nombreux magasins et supermarchés de la capitale, Conakry, et d’autres villes du pays. Récemment, sa société a considérablement accru sa capacité de production pour améliorer sa compétitivité sur les marchés régionaux et internationaux. Fatoumata a également ouvert un restaurant bio pour compléter la chaîne de production et elle emploie directement 15 femmes. L’histoire de Fatoumata est un exemple des nombreuses opportunités d’emploi émergentes dans les systèmes alimentaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest.

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Women in industry – why we need more gender-sensitive statistics

By Jenny Larsen, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation

Since COVID-19 emerged in late 2019, scientists have been poring over the data to understand better how the virus behaves and how to fight it. But studies show that many trials fail to take the sex of participants into account – meaning eagerly awaited vaccines or treatments could be less effective in the female population. Data from Global Health 50/50 show that as of December 2020 only 58 percent of COVID-19 cases reported by 186 countries had been disaggregated by sex, making it much harder to assess the impact of the virus across populations. 

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Protecting migrant workers in the Gulf: don’t build back better over a poor foundation

By Vani Saraswathi, Editor-at-Large and Director of Projects, Migrant-Rights.Org

The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states need to completely revamp past policies, and not merely attempt to bridge gaps or provide a salve to deep wounds.

As of February 2020, millions of migrants –– primarily from South and Southeast Asia and increasingly from East African countries –– were holding up Gulf economies, working in sectors and for wages unappealing to the more affluent citizens. In countries with per capita GDP of US$62,000 or more, minimum wages ranged as low as US$200 per month.

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Migration et travail en Suisse: pour une gouvernance partagée entre le public et le privé

Par Marco Taddei, Union patronale Suisse

Dans la période difficile que nous traversons, un défi majeur se présente à nous : l’impact de la crise du COVID-19 sur les entreprises. Le Coronavirus marque le retour des frontières dans le monde. La tentation du repli national est forte. Et la Suisse n’y échappe pas. Pendant plusieurs semaines, nos frontières, terrestres et aériennes, ont été fermées. Cependant, avec plus de 30 000 frontaliers français travaillant dans le domaine de la santé en Suisse, il s’agit justement de l’ouverture de notre marché du travail qui s’est révélée être un atout précieux. En cette période de crise sanitaire, que feraient nos hôpitaux et nos cliniques sans cette main-d’œuvre?

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Scaling-up job opportunities in food systems for youth and women in West Africa

By Koffi Zougbédé, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC)

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In 2011, Fatoumata Cissoko, a graduate in accounting and a young woman living in Guinea, launched her dried-fruit processing company with USD 260. Her company produces about 16 tonnes of dried pineapple a year sold in many shops and supermarkets in the capital, Conakry, and other cities around the country. Recently, her company increased its production capacity substantially to improve its competitiveness in regional and international markets. Fatoumata also opened an organic restaurant to complete the production chain and she directly employs 15 women. The story of Fatoumata is one example of the many emerging job opportunities in West Africa’s food systems.

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COVID-19 and labour markets in Latin America: How to repair the damage?

By José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs, Former Regional Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Latin America and the Caribbean, and former Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Lima, Peru – April 7, 2020. Photo: Shutterstock

The damage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global lockdown crisis will be devastating, causing the worst disruption to labour markets in Latin America since the Great Depression. Up to 43 million people – probably more – could be unemployed in 2020. Tragically, the state of labour markets in the region was bad even before the crisis. Repairing the damage while addressing past structural legacies is possible, but it will be slow and challenging, and will require something most countries in the region have not done well in the past: a massive focus on microeconomic policies for accelerated productive transformation, and technological and human talent development.

The damage has only just begun and is still evolving, but already looks severe. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates a contraction for the region of -5.3%, the IMF of -5.2%, and the World Bank of -4.6%. All projections now point to severe recessions in all countries in the region. Continue reading “COVID-19 and labour markets in Latin America: How to repair the damage?”

The food economy can create more jobs for West African youth

By Léopold Ghins and Koffi Zougbédé, OECD Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat 

Français suit

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Muhammad Sanyang, General Manager of MBK Farms, Banjul, Gambia.
© SWAC/OECD

Youth employment and job creation loom high on development agendas in West Africa. The issue is also a priority at the continental and international levels: decent work and youth empowerment are priority areas within the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and ‘youth and jobs in the Sahel’ will figure prominently amongst talks at the G7 Summit which begins this Saturday in Biarritz.

Such policy focus is necessary in view of the demographic realities in the region. Although unemployment is low overall, informality remains prevalent, and growing numbers of young people struggle to access attractive training or sources of income. West African economies need to create more and better jobs. Yet, from a policy perspective, how to support decent and inclusive job creation is not always clear. Trade-offs in public resource allocations across sectors and information gaps abound.

In this context, what and where are the opportunities for policymakers willing to address the challenge of decent job creation? Continue reading “The food economy can create more jobs for West African youth”

Turning the changing food needs of a rising middle class into decent jobs for rural youth

By Alexandre Kolev, Head of Unit, Social Cohesion, and Ji-Yeun Rim, Co-ordinator, Youth Inclusion Project, OECD Development Centre


To read more on this subject, check out
The Future of Rural Youth in Developing Countries:
Tapping the Potential of Local Value Chains


banner-youth-inclusion-home-page.890wRural youth constitute the majority of the youth population today in most developing countries, and their number keeps growing. Most of them are low educated, engaged in low-value added farming, and struggle to find better jobs to escape poverty and hardworking conditions. Only a tiny proportion of rural youth want to keep their jobs, and few work in high-skilled occupations. What is becoming increasingly clear is that rural youth are turning their backs on subsistence agriculture; they have high expectations, do not want to farm like their parents and are lured by the thought of better jobs in urban areas or abroad. As a result, many rural youth end up working in urban areas in low-productive informal activities.

What could break this cycle is growing local and regional demand for processed food from a rising urban middle class in many parts of the developing world. This represents an untapped opportunity to achieve the triple objectives of decent job creation for rural youth, food security and sustainable production. In Africa alone, domestic demand for processed food is growing fast, more than 1.5 times faster than the global average between 2005 and 2015. These trends offer huge opportunities for developing food systems geared toward local and regional markets, much larger than for global markets.

So, what’s standing in the way of achieving this opportunity? Continue reading “Turning the changing food needs of a rising middle class into decent jobs for rural youth”