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Women’s access to jobs


Dramatic economic changes and patterns of growth have resulted in significant variations in women’s participation in labour markets. While female labour force participation has increased in some parts of the world, it has decreased in others. In India, for example, only 24% of women have access to paid work, a number that has declined in the last two decades. Despite significant variations in women’s labour force participation worldwide, there is still little understanding of how their participation is stimulated or hindered.

GrOW supports research projects that seek to provide a deeper understanding of women’s participation in the labour force by studying how gendered social, cultural, and occupational patterns in the economy affect women’s labour market participation and returns. GrOW projects studied the enabling and constraining factors that impact women’s participation in the labour market, including: the age of marriage for women; access to education and skills development; and the role of women’s collective groups, among others. 

In addition to the project-related briefs below, the following brief synthesizes the results of 2016 consultations on women in business as well as a literature review. IDRC, WEConnect International, and the Urban Institute held the consultations to identify the challenges women entrepreneurs face and the interventions that are effective in promoting women-owned businesses. Download the brief (PDF, 255.9KB)

Examining women’s early labour market transitions in sub-Saharan Africa

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School to work transitions in Africa: How are women faring?

Female labour force participation in sub-Saharan Africa is higher than in other regions, but fewer young women work in formal paid jobs. This brief looks at interventions that can help women stay in school longer, influencing their future economic and social trajectory.

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Uncovering women’s experiences in artisanal and small-scale mining in Central and East Africa

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Empowering women in artisanal and small-scale mining in Central and East Africa

Women are disadvantaged and excluded from mining zones by a number of overlapping and mutually reinforcing barriers, such as the burden of childcare and gender taboos. However, evidence demonstrates the importance of mining livelihoods for women from economic and social perspectives.

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Challenges and opportunities for women in the mining sectors of Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC

Women’s active participation in artisanal mining and the sector’s gender dynamics are often ignored, thereby limiting women’s contributions and potential. This brief shares findings from ongoing research that explores women’s livelihoods in mining sites in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Download the PDF (890.9KB)


Just Gold: A conflict-free artisanal gold project

Just Gold: A conflict-free artisanal gold project The Just Gold project’s aim to bring gold to international markets in a legal, conflict-free, and traceable way, as well as the need for gender rights to be integrated in the mining sector, is described by Partnership Africa Canada.

Download the PDF (413.5KB)


Addressing the barriers to young women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh

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Reducing child marriage and increasing girls’ schooling in Bangladesh

Findings from a study in rural Bangladesh evaluate how early child marriage may be decreased by investing in education programs for girls and providing incentives to families such as cooking oil to keep their daughters in school.

Download the PDF (272.1KB)


The GrOW program consultations on fostering female entrepreneurship and enhancing the productivity of women-owned enterprises


How to grow women-owned businesses

This brief synthesizes the evidence on the challenges women entrepreneurs face and interventions that work to promote women-owned businesses.

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Growth and women: Pathways for shared prosperity 

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South Africa’s two-tiered informal sector 

This brief indicates that women and men occupy different tiers in the informal sector, but these differences are often overlooked, which hinders policy efforts to bridge informal workers into the formal job market.

Download the PDF (259.4KB)


Does maternal employment benefit children’s education?

This brief describes a large rural workfare program in India that raised women’s employment and in turn benefited children’s education.

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Does paid work put women at greater risk of domestic violence?

Growth to Empowerment (G2E), a partnership of GrOW-supported institutions, presents research findings that analyze whether there is a relationship between women’s employment status and domestic violence — and how to address it.

Download the PDF (910.2KB)