Not Just More, but Better – Fostering Quality of Employment for Women

Namita Datta and Aphichoke Kotikula
World Bank
Publication Date: 
Jan, 2017
Work is the main source of income for people, especially in the world’s poorest countries. Therefore, access to jobs, including in farming and self-employment, offers households the means to escape poverty, increase consumption, and afford a good quality of life.
Good quality jobs can also be an important driver of increased labor force participation, enhanced productivity, and therefore, higher economic performance. More jobs are critical to achieving strong, sustainable, and balanced growth, but what is even more important, is the quality of those jobs and how inclusive those good quality jobs are. An important aspect of fostering inclusiveness is the expansion of women’s access to better economic opportunities. In fact, having access to quality jobs that are stable, decent, secure and productive is even more important from a gender perspective, because women are more likely than men to be over represented in low paying, part-time, informal and low productivity jobs. Addressing persistent gender disparities, especially in the world of work, is a win-win on many fronts.
This paper focuses on the quality of female employment. While addressing gender gaps in labor force participation rates remains a critical concern in several countries, it is essential to also focus on the quality of the jobs that women have access to and ask whether those jobs can be transformative for women’s empowerment. The paper draws on the available literature and evidence from a variety of projects and initiatives in order to highlight for policy makers some possible solutions to address the multiple dimensions of the “quality gap” on women’s jobs.
One aspect of “better jobs” or quality jobs is the level and quality of earnings /wages attached to those jobs. Wages are also associated with productivity, since higher productivity leads to higher returns and earnings, and adds value to the economy. Another related aspect of better jobs includes benefits, job security, social security coverage, stability of income and income
protection. There are also some non-monetary aspects related to a job, such as social relations at work, promotion and advancement opportunities, working conditions, reasonable working hours, sexual harassment, that deeply influence worker satisfaction.
In this paper, three main dimensions of job quality or better jobs are discussed.
  1.    Earnings/wages;
  2.    Job security and stability, which is often determined by the types of jobs that women do, the sectors they work in, and whether         these jobs are stable, secure and covered by labor laws and/or benefits; and
  3.   Quality of working conditions, which covers the non-economic dimensions of a working environment and includes occupational        safety, workplace relations, the risk of sexual harassment at work and overall job satisfaction. However, discussion of this              dimension is limited by the scarce amount of data available.
Section 1 of this note summarizes why addressing gender disparity in access to good quality jobs is also good for economic growth. Section 2 briefly presents a few stylized facts about women’s access to jobs across the world. Section 3 describes elements of the World Bank Group’s strategy on gender, and Section 4 concludes with a few policy recommendations.
Read the full report here.
Workforce Development