Gender and Economics

Despite significant progress in recent decades, labor markets across the world remain divided along gender lines. Female labor force participation has remained lower than male participation, gender wage gaps are high, and women are overrepresented in the informal sector and among the poor. In many countries, legal restrictions persist which constrain women from developing their full economic potential.

While equality between men and women is in itself an important development goal, women's economic participation is also a part of the growth and stability equation. In rapidly aging economies, higher female labor force participation can boost growth by mitigating the impact of a shrinking workforce. Better opportunities for women can also contribute to broader economic development in developing economies, for instance through higher levels of school enrollment for girls.

Presentation: IMF Gender Experience

Gender Budgeting and Gender Equality Database

Videos on Gender

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Q1. Which region had the biggest increase in women’s educational attainment over the last 20 years?

A) Asia and Pacific
B) Europe
C) Latin America


It’s the Asia and Pacific Region, where the ratio of women in secondary education surpassed Europe by 2014.

Q2. How many countries have introduced an initiative to promote women’s equality in the annual budget?

A) Fewer than 30
B) 30 – 50 countries
C) More than 50


Our new series of working papers provides information on almost 60 countries that have introduced gender budgeting.

Q3. Which of the following countries put measures into the annual budget to promote gender equality?

A) Rwanda
B) Belgium
C) Mexico


All of the above. Rwanda, in particular, integrated gender goals throughout its budget and into its public financial management system. It also put in place an effective monitoring of its progress.

#IMFGender Stories

In February 2016, the IMF launched an online campaign for innovative women to share their stories under the hashtag #IMFGender. The stories we received were powerful and inspirational. Women are using every tool possible to advance and lift-up their communities. Below are some of the inspiring stories women shared with us:

Maria Umar

Maria Umar

Pakistan— Founder and President of The Digital League

Read her story

The person. Maria is from Pakistan and is involved with capacity training in a remote northern area of Pakistan in partnership with a local NGO. In the first 2 months they have trained over 200 locals in various online work skills. In addition, Maria is an advisor to Think Global Institute, a nonprofit global business accelerator. Maria also fills the role of mentor and inspired leader.

The Initiative: Training rural Pakistani Women in micro online tasks. The organization focuses on all kinds of computer-based services such as affordable content writing, virtual assistance, Facebook/Blackberry/iPhone apps, CRM systems, CMS systems, website development, and videography to clients all over the world.

Marcela Alves

Marcela Alves

Brazil—Co-founder of Empowerit team

Read her story

The person. Marcela is a software developer at the Institute of Projects and Research of the Ceará State University in Brazil. She graduated in Computer Science in 2015, with an exchange program at Arizona State University.

The Initiative: She created an application that connects corporations with female entrepreneurs. Marcela Alves and her partner Brenda Miranda created an online tool called Empower-it. It is designed to help corporations connect with women entrepreneurs to do business with each other. The applications allow women to register their business and make the first contact based on the results of searches done through some specific filters such as sectors of industry or company certification.


Gender Inequality and Economic Growth: Evidence from Industry-Level Data

July 3, 2020

We study whether higher gender equality facilitates economic growth by enabling better allocation of a valuable resource: female labor. By allocating female labor to its more productive use, we hypothesize that reducing gender inequality should disproportionately benefit industries with typically higher female share in their employment relative to other industries.

Women in the Labor Force : The Role of Fiscal Policies

February 16, 2020

Despite the increase in female labor force participation over the past three decades, women still do not have the same opportunities as men to participate in economic activities in most countries. The average female labor force participation rate across countries is still 20 percentage points lower than the male rate, and gender gaps in wages and access to education persist.

Guilt, Gender, and Work-Life Balance in Japan: A Choice Experiment

November 27, 2019

The quantification of how aspects of a job are valued by employees sheds light on the potential for labor market reform in Japan. Using a nationwide sample of 1,046 working-age adults, we conduct a choice experiment that examines individuals’ willingness to trade wages against job characteristics such as the extent of overtime, job security, the possibility of work transfer and relocation.

A Quantitative Analysis of Female Employment in Senegal

November 8, 2019

Female-to-male employment in Senegal increased by 14 percentage points between 2006 and 2011. During the same period years of education of the working age population increased 27 percent for females and 13 percent for males, reducing gender gaps in education.

Gender Diversity In The Executive Board : Progress Report Of The Executive Board To The Board Of Governors

October 24, 2019

Executive Directors underscore the importance of promoting gender diversity at the IMF’s Executive Board and the Offices of Executive Directors (OEDs). The Executive Board recognizes that a diversity of views contributes to stronger decisionmaking, and is committed to ongoing efforts to improve the gender profile of the Board and Offices of the Executive Directors.

Reducing and Redistributing Unpaid Work: Stronger Policies to Support Gender Equality

October 15, 2019

Unpaid work, such as caring for children, the elderly, and household chores represents a significant share of economic activity but is not counted as part of GDP. Women disproportionately shoulder the burden of unpaid work: on average, women do two more hours of unpaid work per day than men, with large differences across countries. While much unpaid care work is done entirely by choice, constraints imposed by cultural norms, labor market features or lack of public services, infrastructure, and family-friendly policies matter.

More IMF publications on gender


The COVID-19 Gender Gap

By Kristalina Georgieva, Stefania Fabrizio, Cheng Hoon Lim, and Marina M. Tavares
July 21, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities, widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress.

Teleworking is Not Working for the Poor, the Young, and the Women

By Mariya Brussevich, Era Dabla-Norris, and Salma Khalid
July 7, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating labor markets across the world. Tens of millions of workers lost their jobs, millions more out of the labor force altogether, and many occupations face an uncertain future.

On Board with More Women in Leadership

By Kristalina Georgieva and Louise Levonian
March 3, 2020
Where are all the women? It is a question we shouldn’t have to ask in 2020. But we do. Why? Because there are simply too few women in leadership positions all over the world. On the eve of International Women’s Day and as we approach the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote here in the United States, the time is right to get a handle on the problem.

Fiscal Policies For Women’s Economic Empowerment

By Stefania Fabrizio, Daniel Gurara and Lisa Kolovich
February 18, 2020
Making sure that opportunities to enter the workforce are fair and rewarding for women benefits everyone. Yet, the average female workforce participation rate across countries is still 20 percentage points lower than the male rate, largely because gender gaps in wages and access to opportunities, such as education, stubbornly persist.

The Economic Cost of Devaluing “Women’s Work”

By Kristalina Georgieva, Cristian Alonso, Era Dabla-Norris, and Kalpana Kochhar
October 15, 2019
As much as half of the world’s work is unpaid. And most of it is done by women.

Voting on Gender Parity

By Rasmane Ouedraogo
September 19, 2019
Electoral violence occurs in many African countries. Tragically, thousands are killed and displaced during election cycles on the continent.

More IMF blogs on gender


Kristalina Georgieva on Gender Parity: Inequalities Erode Society

November 2, 2019

IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva talks with Foreign Policy Magazine's Ravi Agrawal about breaking down barriers to women's career growth. Georgieva is the first person from an emerging market economy, and only the second woman to lead the IMF since its inception in 1944. In this podcast, Georgieva and Agrawal discuss the economic benefits of gender equality and the societal transformation that is required to correct the injustices of the past. Read the IMFBlog on The Economic Cost of Devaluing “Women’s Work”

More Women in Africa’s Labor Force Means Less Conflict

October 11, 2019

IMF economist Rasmane Ouedraogo investigates the impact of gender equality on electoral violence in Africa and finds yet another good reason to increase female labor force participation. Rasmane Ouedraogo and Idrissa Ouedraogo are coauthors of Gender Equality and Electoral Violence in Africa: Unlocking the Peacemaking Potential of Women.

Vera Songwe: Closing the Tech Gender Gap

November 16, 2018

Vera Songwe is the first woman to head the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Africa, and in this podcast, Songwe says African women are especially disadvantaged in the technology sector because they often don’t have access to the internet.

More IMF podcasts on gender


Girl Power Infographic
Women in the Labor Force : The Role of Fiscal Policies

February 16, 2020
Despite the increase in female labor force participation over the past three decades, women still do not have the same opportunities as men to participate in economic activities in most countries. The average female labor force participation rate across countries is still 20 percentage points lower than the male rate, and gender gaps in wages and access to education persist. As shown by earlier work, including by the IMF, greater gender equality boosts economic growth and leads to better development and social outcomes. Gender equality is also one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that 193 countries committed to achieve by 2030.

Women, Work, and European Economic Growth

March 7, 2016
Europe faces serious challenges to increasing future output growth. Improving women’s participation in the overall labor market and their representation in senior corporate positions is one important strategy European countries could pursue to help mitigate the projected slowdown in growth

Gender and Income Inequality

October 22, 2015
More men work than women in most countries, and they get paid more for similar work.
In many countries, girls and women have less access to education, health and finance than boys and men. Greater gender equality would benefit the economy through higher growth and lower income inequality.


Gender-balanced Leadership: Guarding Financial Stability in Crisis Times

June 10, 2020
By Antoinette Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director

Threads of Success – Empowering Women in Latin America and Around the World

March 5, 2020
By Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director