This brief piece assesses labor market participation of women in Africa. It focuses on estimating the number of women who would be participating in the labor market had the relative Labor Force Paricapation rates for women and men were in par with the levels in advanced countries.
While progress had been made in gender equality in global labor markets thanks to economic and social advancement, gender inclusivness is lagging in Africa due to high poverty and gender discrimination.
Africa has no shortage of labor supply. But it lacks high-productivity job opportunities in high- productivity nonagricultural sectors. Its relatively rapid and sustained economic growth over the past decade did not yield enough jobs for the growing wave of jobs seekers-mainly youth in urban areas. Nonagricultural employment continues to be dominated by the informal sector, where wages are low, benefits nonexistent, workplace safety absent, and labor exploitation common. With significant demographic change expected to bring pressure on African labor markets, the urgency of creating high-quality and remunerative jobs at a much faster pace is not only an economic issue but a political and social one. This report investigates the extent to which failure to remove business constraints hinders actual and potential job growth. In particular, using World Bank Enterprise Survey (ES) panel data, the report quantifies the number of actual jobs lost due to the impact of business obstacles on firm survival and employment growth.
Africa enjoyed relatively fast economic growth over the past decade and a half. The sustained growth undoubtedly kindled hopes for a prosperous Africa. However, poverty and inequality remained pervasive. In 2013, poverty was still widespread, and the rate was high in Sub-Saharan Africa-41 percent, compared with the world average of just 10.7 percent and the South Asia average of 15 percent. While the intensity of poverty, measured by the poverty gap, declined from 26 percent to 16 percent during the same period, it is still high compared with the world average of 3.2 percent. Moreover, the benefits of growth were not shared widely, and inequality was widespread and persistent. The median Gini coefficient measuring inequality in Africa was 0.36 in 2014, and 7 percent of total income goes to the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution.