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Toward Gender-Focused Governance Reform in Asia

Publication | December 2018
Toward Gender-Focused Governance Reform in Asia

Closing the gender gap in the global labor force could result in significant economic gains.

The global population is composed of an almost equal proportion of men and women. In contrast, the global labor force is disproportionately male. Only four in every 10 workers in the global labor force are women. Similar discrepancies between the women’s share in the population and the labor force are reported in Asia and the Pacific, specifically in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea. India has the widest gap (about 23 percentage points) between the population and labor force shares, which are 48% and 25% female, respectively.

Key points

  • Although women make up half the world’s population, only four in every 10 workers are women. Closing the gender gap in the global labor force could result in significant economic gains.
  • In Asia and the Pacific, women work mainly in the service sector. Most work in jobs lacking formal arrangements—that is, vulnerable employment. In managerial positions as well, there is still a glass ceiling for women.
  • Legislation and concrete plans of action are required to address gender discrimination in the workplace and promote women’s participation at work.
  • Governments should direct their efforts into implementing legal frameworks, programs, and policies to help overcome social norms and cultural gender biases and achieve gender equality in the workforce.
Policy Brief No: 2018-4