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Report: More Women in Workforce Would Add Trillions to World Economy

  • Lisa Schlein

Ram, 46, poses for a photograph at her stall at the flower market in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 26, 2017.

A new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) says getting more women into the world labor market would add trillions of dollars to the global economy and boost tax revenues.

According to the report, the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2017, just more than 49 percent of women globally are in the labor force, a rate nearly 27 percent lower than that for men.

The ILO is calling for a narrowing of the gender gap, which it says is widespread, persistent and substantial, in the world of work. But unfortunately, ILO says, this situation is expected to remain unchanged in 2018.

G-20 commitment

Deborah Greenfield, ILO deputy director for policy, says the Group of 20 (G-20) leaders have committed themselves to reducing the gender gap in work participation rates between men and women by 25 percent by the year 2025.

Greenfield says huge benefits would accrue to women, society and the economy if this goal is met.

“This would have the potential to add $5.8 trillion, measured in U.S. dollars, to the global economy,” Greenfield said. “This could also unlock large potential tax revenues. We estimate roughly $1.5 trillion globally, most of it in emerging and developed countries.”

Areas that would benefit most

The report says North Africa, the Arab states and southern Asia have the lowest number of women in paid labor. It says these regions would benefit most from narrowing the gaps, which exceed 50 percentage points, in participation rates between men and women.

The ILO says society must change its attitudes toward the role of women in the world of work and not fall back on the excuse that it is unacceptable for a woman to have a paid job.

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