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Girl Power

Finance & Development, March 2017, Vol. 54, No. 1

Maria Jovanović

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Policies that help integrate women into the workforce benefit everyone

Equality between men and women is important for both moral and economic reasons. If half of the world’s population cannot reach its full potential, the whole global economy suffers. Despite much progress in recent decades, inequity across gender lines persists in the workforce. Female labor force participation continues to be lower than that of men due to many factors, including wage gaps, unequal access to opportunity, health and education disparities, and legal obstacles.

Equal access to jobs and economic opportunities benefits all people—not just women. For example, countries facing shrinking workforces because of an aging population can expand their labor force by including women.

In most countries, however, at least one legal hurdle prevents women from finding work. In addition to reforming institutions, regulations, and laws that promote discrimination against women, governments can implement family-friendly policies like parental leave and affordable child care.

Especially in low-income countries and emerging markets, additional investments in infrastructure, health, and education would help women join the workforce.

Girl Power Girl Power

Prepared by Maria Jovanović. Text and charts are based on the IMF's ongoing gender research, available at imf.org/gender and drawing on other institutions’ knowledge and data.

Opinions expressed in articles and other materials are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.
Illustration: David Hunt, ThinkStock, Freepik.