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Africa’s Prosperity Depends on Achieving Gender Equality

Childcare responsibilities significantly impede African women’s ability to realize their full potential, owing to regressive social norms that perpetuate gender disparities. Tackling this challenge requires a holistic, evidence-based shift to a care economy that empowers women to participate as equals in the labor market.

NAIROBI – Despite the progress made toward gender equality over the past century, women worldwide still lag behind men in pay and job quality. The global labor-force participation rate for women is just 53%, compared to 80% for men. This is not due to a lack of will or effort. Childcare obligations, limited access to education, and poor workplace and public-safety measures often curtail women’s ability to secure “decent” work.

For this reason, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to achieve “full and productive employment and decent work for all” by 2030 (SDG 8). But this objective cannot be achieved as long as African women face significant barriers to equal pay and job opportunities.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), “decent” employment implies fair wages, safe and healthy working environments, job security, and equal opportunities and treatment. While several African countries have made efforts to improve women’s access to decent work opportunities, recent research by the Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP) underscores the challenges facing policymakers.