(HN, November 2, 2010) -- The US-based World Bank said in a study released on Tuesday in Maputo, Mozambique that gender disparities in African labour markets are caused by jobs scarcity and not discrimination while highlighting that investments in education and job creation are key to fostering gender equality.
The study analyses household survey data collected in the early 2000s in 18 countries across Africa, looking into gender dimensions in employment, unemployment, pay gap, as well as the role of educational attainment.
The survey shows that women’s participation rates in the labour market range from under 40 percent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda, to 80 percent and above in Burkina Faso, Burundi, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
For Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, women’s employment ratio over the survey period is 25 percent lower than for men, respectively at 53 percent and nearly 70 percent.
“We found little evidence to support the idea that labour market discrimination is a key explanation for gender gaps in underdeveloped economies, especially those whose job markets are small and can only supply formal employment for a minority of the population,” says World Bank Senior Economist Jorge Arbache, one of the book’s editors.
Arbache added that disparities are indeed greater in countries that have few job opportunities to begin with and, conversely, countries with the highest job rate for men are also those with the least gender disparities.
Another co-editor of the survey, Ewa Filipiak, project manager at Agence Française de Développement, said “ensuring women’s access to jobs is essential to the fight against poverty and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)... because it has been shown that well-paid jobs empower them to redirect spending on essential needs, notably in favour of children’s health and education.”
Survey data shows that on average the male-to-female earnings ratio is as high as 2.8 among individuals with no education, and as low as 0.9 among those with post-secondary education.
The authors therefore recommend that policy-makers adopt targeted measures that facilitate women’s access to education, such as conditional cash transfer programmes, that encourage families to enrol girls in schools.
The 18 African countries surveyed are Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia.
Case studies were conducted in the Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania while cross-country studies were done in Benin, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Senegal and Uganda.
- African Press Agency /APA-Maputo (Mozambique)