According to the International Financial Corporation (2013) women account for 40.8% of the world’s labour force. However, the world’s female labour force participation rate has stagnated at approximately 50% of the female labour force over the past 20 years (IMF), indicating significant barriers to labour market entry for women. Female employees are also paid less than their male counterparts at all levels of employment everywhere in the world. This is further exacerbated in South Asia, as cultural barriers in the region compel women not to enter the formal paid workforce. Going against the global trend, the proportion of working women has progressively decreased in South Asia in the past years, indicating deep structural discrimination in the South Asian labour market.
In many countries, gender discrimination in the labour market limit opportunities for women to obtain ‘good work’, ie full time paid work from an employer. The biggest deficit in good jobs for women is in South Asia and non-EU European countries. Thus indicating in these regions specifically and more widely globally, women’s contribution to the world’s economic growth and development is very much below its potential.
Discrimination of women is widely reported globally in the private sector, and unsurprisingly, women tend to be underrepresented in senior positions worldwide in private sector organisations. Within the Global Gender Gap Report of 2013, the actual mean number of men in top management was 10.95 in 21 companies, while on average only 1.81 women were a part of top management.
What the research has made clear is that targeted gender equity policies can be developed to improve women’s access to top management as well as those relating to recruitment to make sure women are not discriminates in a generalised manner due to marital status, i.e. perceived or real cultural barriers facing women (as a proportion of women will be in a position to successfully manage their careers amongst other factors and or/break through cultural barriers). It is important to now, in adopting such gender equity policies and programs in an organisation, support from the very top of the organisational management is essential. Only then will Human Resource Management services be empowered to effectively implement such a gender equitable policy framework to hire and nurture the best as well as for the organisation to reap from the benefits of diversity.
Therefore Global Gender Reports have showed that the economic that the economic utilisation of a country’s female population translates into development, economic efficiency and an increase in global competitiveness for countries. Above all, the equitable treatment of women in employment will protect their fundamental rights such as their right to work, right to family life, right to equal protection of the law, right to equality before the law, rights to liberty and security of person and right to an effective remedy.
*About the author: Iromi Dharmawardhane is the author of ‘The Good Life – An Introduction to Religion and Consciousness’. Her areas of interest and research include religion, philosophy, international relations, South Asian studies, political violence and terrorism, educational psychology and gender studies.
PLEASE NOTE: This excerpt is part of Iromi’s wider research study and has been shortened for the purpose of this platform
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