NOVEMBER 5, 2010: Women Less Engaged in Country's Growth

SOURCE: The Monitor

By Martin Luther Oketch

A new World Bank book has shown Uganda's labour gap between men and women standing at a difference of 17 per cent makes women less active participants in the country's development.

The book published by the World Bank says there are concerns that gender inequalities have remained a critical factor in Africa. However it varies from one country to another.

Uganda's labour gap, according to the book puts men at 78.3 per cent compared to 61 per cent for women. The household data collected from 18 African countries in early 2000, analyses gender dimensions in employment, unemployment, pay gap, as well as the role of educational attainment.

Women participation

The data collected shows women's participation in the labour market range from under 40 per cent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda, to 80 per cent and above in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, women's employment ratio over the survey period is 25 per cent lower than that of men, standing at 53 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

The book released on November 1 was published under the World Bank's stewardship titled, Gender Disparities in Africa's Labour Market.

Representative survey

The underlying study for the book is to provide a comparative analysis based on a standardised, national representative survey from 18 countries.

The data extracted from multi-topic integrated household surveys from Africa in 2000, was recently harmonised as part of the World Bank Survey-based Harmonized Indicators Programme.

The 18 countries surveyed included: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Pra­ncipe, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia.

Data sets indicate that in a number of African countries, women are almost twice as likely as men to be in the informal sector and about two times less likely to have a public or private formal job.

Gender pay gap is high, but varies a great deal among countries. The ratio of average female-to-male weekly labour income ranged from 23 per cent in Burkina Faso to 79 percent in Ghana.

According to the book; segmentation by sector of employment shows that 70 per cent of women work in agriculture (64 per cent for men), 6 per cent in small industries (13 per cent for men), and 23 per cent in the service sector.

Underrepresented

Overall, women were underrepresented in the industry and service sector.

"What we found is that these disparities are caused mainly by very limited job prospects, differences in education, power dynamics in the household, and other human capital variables," said Mr Jorge Arbache, a World Bank senior economist and one of the book's editors.

He said we found little evidence to support the idea that labour market discrimination is a key explanation for gender gaps in underdeveloped economies.

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