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  • Author: Alex Tammaro, Alex Katz
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Despite India’s strong economic growth, women’s labor force participation in India has decreased—from 33 percent in 2005, to 27 percent in 2010, to 24 percent in 2019. Even with increased investment in women’s access to education and professional opportunity, women are leaving the labor market, dampening economic productivity and innovation. So why are women opting out? Bhavani Arabandi offered answers in a presentation to Urban Institute staff titled Karma and the Myth of the Indian Superwoman. Arabandi spoke to highly skilled, highly educated Indian women as part of an ethnographic study to determine why they step away from lucrative, fulfilling careers. She examined how structural barriers—the disadvantages, constraints, and discouragement women face—are “treated as normal by society and often internalized.”
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Economic Growth, Participation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: H. Elizabeth Peters, Shirley Adelstein, Robert Abare
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Women around the world face barriers to participating in the labor force, especially in traditionally male-dominated sectors. Addressing these barriers in low-income countries can improve both women’s well-being and the countries’ entire economies (PDF). Building on Urban’s prior research, we recently completed a systematic review (PDF) of qualitative studies of women’s labor force participation and upward mobility. We focused on studies of the higher-productivity, male-dominated sectors of commercial agriculture, mining, and trade and found studies from 18 low-income countries, mostly those in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America. Barriers to economic empowerment observed by the studies were far ranging, including gender-related laws, violence and sexual harassment, and limited access to land, technology, technology skills, credit and capital, and social and business networks. But one of the strongest and most consistent findings from our review was the influence of social norms about gender.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fenohasina Rakotondrazaka Maret, Harsh Parikh, Rachel Wilder
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The United Nations designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and for good reason. The tourism industry generates 10.2 percent of global GDP and employs 1 in 10 workers. Women make up more than half of the tourism workforce, which makes the industry’s growth a unique opportunity to empower women across the world. But we need additional data to better understand how women intersect with this burgeoning industry.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Tourism, Women, Partnerships, International Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Botswana, Global Focus
  • Author: Ammar A. Malik, Hadia Majid
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world, and at least two in five Pakistanis will live in urban areas by 2020. But, as in the rest of South Asia, rapid urbanization in Pakistan is “messy” and hidden. A large-scale informal economy and poor public service delivery is dampening the potential productivity benefits of agglomeration. Seventy-eight percent of nationwide nonagricultural jobs are in the informal economy, and some 22 million people are in such roles, most of them women. Most of an estimated 8.5 million mostly unregulated domestic workers are also women. Underdeveloped and unenforced work regulations make women disproportionately more susceptible to exploitive working conditions. They are poorly compensated and forced to work in hazardous circumstances without proper social or legal protections. Beyond the ambit of taxation, they are seldom considered productive economic agents and are relegated as secondary contributors to the economy. These issues with urbanization and informal economies are not unique to Pakistan. All South Asian countries have similar problems. But overall gender disparities in Pakistan are considerably higher than the regional average, and the fact that more women are poor than men poses a particular challenge for women in Pakistan’s urban informal sector.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Urbanization, Women, Economy, Informal Economy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: H. Elizabeth Peters, Nan Marie Astone, Ammar A. Malik, Fenohasina Rakotondrazaka Maret, Caroline Heller
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Besides human rights protection and social welfare improvement, fostering female participation in the economy can stimulate growth with human capital accumulation and enhance the competitiveness of businesses. But women face many barriers to participating in the labor market, particularly in high productivity sectors, due to limited investments in education, time burdens from care responsibilities, legal prohibitions to land ownership, and sexual harassment and violence. We find evidence that improving access to infrastructure and public services, reforms in inheritance laws, family friendly workplace policies, and reduction in levels of violence can significantly improve women’s economic empowerment.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, International Development, Economic Growth, Cities
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ammar A. Malik, Hadia Majid, Husnain Fateh, Iromi Perera
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: In rapidly urbanizing developing countries, the prevalence large-scale informality within urban economies increases social vulnerabilities, stifles worker productivity and dampens regional economic growth. With the prospect of better jobs attracting millions into cities each year, rising urban poverty levels are encouraging international nonprofits to allocate greater resources toward urban programs. Our fieldwork in Pakistan reveals that above all else, urban informal workers require improvements in public service delivery, skillset development and collective bargaining capacity. We propose implementing future urban programs through an iterative learning, adaptation and implementation approach allowing nonprofits to leverage greater impact from finite resources.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Income Inequality, International Development, Economic Growth, Family, Cities
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Fenohasina Rakotondrazaka Maret, Ammar A. Malik, Nan Marie Astone, H. Elizabeth Peters
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Worldwide, only about one in two women work, compared with three in four men. In some low-income countries, such as Zimbabwe and Madagascar, the labor force participation rate for women has reached 90 percent, but these women are often underemployed. Hard economic circumstances often force them to be self-employed or work in small enterprises that are unregulated and unregistered. About 83 percent of all domestic workers in the world are women, most of whom work in precarious conditions. Women also do much more unpaid work than men, including caring for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities; contributing to family farms or businesses; and performing household chores such as collecting water or gathering firewood. Improving women’s livelihoods constitutes basic human rights protection. But could including more women in the labor force also stimulate economic growth, enhance business competitiveness, and improve well-being? We recently conducted a review of evidence to answer that question and found that reducing the gender pay gap and equalizing access to economic opportunities and resources are good for economic, social, and business development. For example, some firms that purposefully reduced gender discrimination and supported family-friendly policies attracted more talented workers, improved retention rates, and decreased employee stress, resulting in enhanced productivity.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe, Madagascar
  • Author: Ammar A. Malik, Arjan de Haan, Alejandra Vargas Garcia
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Throughout the world, economic opportunities are less available to women than to men. Not only is the worldwide female labor force participation rate lower than it is for men, working women earn 10 to 30 percent less than their male counterparts. The share of girls who enroll and complete primary school remains less than boys'. Women hold only 22 percent of national parliament seats around the world. In a recent World Bank study, 90 percent of 173 surveyed countries had at least one law (e.g., prohibitions on women taking up certain jobs) preventing women from taking full advantage of economic opportunities. While gender equality has improved in some respects, minimizing gender-based violence, early and forced marriages, and property-rights violations will take more work. The full realization of women’s economic potential is essential for achieving the ambitious United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which will drive the global development agenda until 2030.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Sustainable Development Goals, Business , Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Laudan Y. Aron, Janine M. Zweig, Lisa C. Newmark
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Humans are trafficked across international borders for the purposes of labor exploitation (e.g., domestic servitude, sweatshops) or sexual exploitation (e.g., forced prostitution) and the victims are subjected to coercion, fraud, abuse, or some other form of deception on the part of the traffickers. The Department of State (2004, 2006) estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people—adults and children—are trafficked across international borders around the world annually. About 90 percent of these victims are females and over half of all those trafficked each year are believed to be trafficked for sexual exploitation. Among those trafficked, about 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the United States each year. Recent data show that victims are often trafficked by perpetrators of the same nationality (Free the Slaves and Human Rights Center 2004).
  • Topic: Crime, Gender Issues, Human Rights, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Estelle James, Alejandra Cox Edwards, Rebeca Wong
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades multipillar pension systems that include both a public defined benefit (DB) and private defined contribution (DC) pillar have been adopted in many countries. Critics of these pension reforms argue that the tight link between payroll contributions and benefits in the DC pillar will produce lower pensions for women. In contrast, supporters of these reforms argue that multipillar systems remove distortions that favored men and permit a more targeted public pillar that will help women. To test these conflicting claims about multipillar reforms, and to analyze more generally the gender impact of alternative pension systems, this paper examines the differential impact on the two genders of the new and old systems in three Latin American countries—Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. On the basis of household survey data, we simulate the employment histories of representative men and women and the pensions that these are likely to generate under the new and old rules.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America, Central America, North America, Mexico, Chile