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Statistics on women

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Equal opportunity and equal treatment in the labour market are at the core of decent work. Unfortunately, women around the world still face additional hurdles to access employment, and once in employment, to access decision-making positions and jobs in certain sectors or of certain characteristics. This horizontal and vertical gender segregation of employment, combined with the unequal distribution of unpaid work (including household and childcare activities), results in differences in working conditions such as the gender pay gap and the over-representation of women in part-time jobs.

Gender equality is crucial to economic growth and sustainable development. It is recognized as a cross-cutting objective within the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, and as a key goal within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In fact, Goal 5 of the SDGs is devoted specifically to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, but gender equality is also mainstreamed throughout the other sixteen goals.

Data catalogue

The gendered effects of marriage and child rearing on labour market outcomes

ILOSTAT presents a wide range of labour indicators allowing for the study of gender patterns in the labour market. However, until recently, these indicators focused on the individual, without any information on their family situation and its effect on their labour market outcomes. The ILO and UN-Women joined forces to surmount this limitation by producing labour indicators taking into account not only the characteristics of each individual, but also the characteristics of the household they live in. This novel database includes data on 84 countries (derived from labour force surveys or similar household surveys available in the ILO Harmonized Microdata Collection). It allows data users to explore how women’s and men’s labour force participation changes according to, for instance, whether they live alone, with a partner, with or without children, and the number and age of the children.

Gender and the 19th ICLS

Since the adoption of the standards at the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS), the ILO has engaged in an extensive programme of work to develop guidance and tools to support compilers and users of labour data on the implementation of the standards and the use of the data generated when they are applied. Below are key resources focused on the implications for gender data.


In early 2021, the ILO Statistics Department started a three-year project to engender informality statistics, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is running in parallel to the broader review of standards for informality statistics, currently undertaken through the ILO's Working Group on the Review of Informality Statistics. It supports integration of gender in the new standards, and the development of gender-related guidance and tools for measuring informality.
The main activity of the project is to test statistical concepts and household survey questionnaires, using cognitive interviewing in two countries in 2021 and a pilot field test in one country in 2022. The findings from those tests will support the working group in its discussions and drafting of the new standards, to be adopted by the 21st ICLS in 2023.
The project is also assessing the existing and anticipated needs for gender data on informality (data demand) and reviewing the use of data in strategy setting and policy formulation, making recommendations to strengthen the production, accessibility and use of gender statistics on informality.

UN Women logo

In 2019, the ILO partnered with UN-Women to create a series of novel labour market indicators, key to gender analysis. The main innovation resulting from this project was the inclusion of a variable on the household type in ILOSTAT, revealing how people's labour market outcomes change based on their family situation (whether they are single or not, whether they have children, the number and age of children, etc.).

Women’s Work and Employment Partnership

In 2014, the ILO partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank under the Women’s Work and Employment Partnership, supported by Data2X, with the goal of addressing challenges in measuring work and employment to ensure that women are counted. The partnership supports research in two core areas: subsistence production and unpaid care work.



Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work

This report takes a comprehensive look at unpaid and paid care work and its relationship with the changing world of work. A key focus is the persistent gender inequalities in households and the labour market, which are inextricably linked with care work.

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