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Paid Work

Global Status of Women

Issue 9, May 2009


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Home Critical Areas of Concern Women and the Economy Paid Work
Paid Work Print

Women participate in the paid economy by doing both formal and informal paid work. 

Formal Paid Work

The formal employment sector comprises hourly and salaried workers by whom taxes are paid, and therefore whose statistics can be tracked through known channels (government and industry agencies).  Official employment statistics from the International Labor Organization (2003) presented below are presumed to underestimate the extent to which women participate in the paid economy because different countries capture formal and informal employment differently:

 Region

 % of Women With Paying Jobs

 Africa

 58%

 Asia

 64%

 Latin America and Caribbean

 46%

 Europe

 69%

 North America

 73%

 Arab World

 35%

Two critical issues that women face in the formal labor sector are employment segregation and the wage gap.

Informal Paid Work

Women are overrepresented in the informal employment sector.  

  • These are jobs that are often “off the books,” contractual, seasonal, and/or casual in nature, and typically come with no benefits such as health insurance, disability, or retirement.  
  • Unregulated by safety codes or unions, these jobs tend to be in the realm of the 3 Ds (dirty, dangerous, dull), and include street trade, domestic services, cleaning, caregiving, food preparation, and prostitution.  
  • Workers in the informal economy (men and women) find themselves highly vulnerable to economic swings and to the whims of their employers.  Exploitation of workers is common.

Next:  Women and the Economy:  Employment Segregation in Paid Employment