, GENEVA, Dec 11 – Women have always faced higher unemployment rates than men, and the sluggish global economy in recent years has only made the situation worse, the International Labour Organisation said Tuesday.
On a global scale, women saw their unemployment rate close somewhat on that of men in the 1990s, but the financial crisis since 2008 have reversed that trend, the UN’s labour organisation said in a report.
“Gaps that already existed before the crisis have increased after the crisis,” said former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, who heads the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
She presented with ILO the “Global Employment Trends for Women 2012” report, which showed that women’s worldwide unemployment rate from 2002 to 2005 stood at 5.8 percent, while 5.3 percent of men were registered as unemployed.
By 2011, 6.4 percent of women were unwillingly out of work, compared to just 5.7 percent of men, the report showed.
“The crisis raised this gap from 0.5 to 0.7 percentage points and destroyed 13 million jobs for women,” the report said, adding that “projections do not show a significant reduction in this elevated gap by 2013, or even 2017.”
This is bad news for the world economy, the organisation said, pointing to an OECD report indicating that a quarter of annual economic growth in Europe in the 1990s was due to increasing employment among women.
Narrowing the gap “is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do,” Bachelet said.
The gender gap in unemployment meanwhile varies widely in different regions, with countries in Central and Eastern Europe for instance seeing higher unemployment among men than women.
This, ILO explained, is due to the fact that “initially the crisis hit the male-dominated sectors such as construction.”
Globally, however, women are harder hit by crises, ILO explained, since they are more likely to be working on temporary contracts or to have lower education levels.
Women are also more likely than men to exit and re-enter the labour market or to be forced to take part-time work for family reasons.
“Today in the world, in unemployment. . . women are in a very unequal situation,” Bachelet said.
“It’s not only about glass ceilings, it is also about leaking pipelines,” she said, stressing that women in all positions “have to face. . . invisible barriers.”