Date: 
Monday 25 November 2013
Audio: 

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the World Bank held a joint event entitled Gender at Work: A Global Perspective.

The event focused on women’s participation in work, leadership and economic development and on identifying strategies in Australia and at the global level to advancing women’s participation, representation, and gender equality. Jeni Klugman, Sector Director, Gender and Development Poverty Reduction & Economic Management Network from the World Bank was one of the speakers at this event and this is a podcast of her presentation.

 

Transcript

Jeni Klugman: Thank you [Liz] and I'm delighted to be here this afternoon. As Liz mentioned, what we're going to do is to focus on the opportunities as well as the constraints facing women in the world of work. It's an important moment, not only because there's heightened attention on this agenda but also because I think it's been increasingly well recognised that progress towards gender equality around the world is storming in very important respects. I think that the [unclear] report that Liz just mentioned as well is an important illustration of that.

What we're going to do this afternoon is to highlight some key messages from a forthcoming report that we're preparing, a global report. I'll give you a preview. The report is not entirely finalised but I'd be more than happy to share that once it's been posted and would very much welcome your feedback.

So let me just start with the key messages of the report and then I'll go through in somewhat more detail around some of the key aspects, highlighting some interesting perspectives and I hope some things which will stimulate some discussion and debate for the panel as well as from the audience.

I think the first point to make, which I don't need to dwell on too much but I think it's nonetheless worth mentioning, is the centrality of gender equality the World Bank Group so involves. Our new president [Jim Kim] as articulated these around the elimination of extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Across both of these in a multitude of ways, we can see how this is important.

I think the second point to make, and we'll see that kind of documented through the [unclear] that I'll present, is that progress has really been too little and too slow. So despite the gains that we've seen, especially in the area of education which has been very rapid in a number of developing countries around the world, it really hasn't been matched by the [unclear] in the sphere of economic opportunities, nor in the sphere of voice and choice, nor with respect to violence, as Liz has already reminded us.

What we do in this report is to try and kind of broaden the perspective. So we're thinking about jobs, not only as income earning opportunities but also the opportunities and the benefits that they can bring. Also looking at different types of work. I know that in Australia formal work is very important but particularly in developing economies. Much of the work, as I'll show you, is in the informal sector, it's in agriculture. So thinking about the policy implications of dealing with indeed a much more complex set of issues in those sectors is very important, as well as of course dealing with the constraints around unpaid work is very important.

What we also try and do is link notions of what we call agency, which is, I think - it has different interpretations. We use a kind of broadly speaking in the mightier sense of the word. So around the capacity or the capability to make choices that one values and has reason to value. Broadly speaking, around kind of decision-making and choice, how that links again to economic opportunities. It's important - I think often-times those things are looked at separately but it's really important to bring those together.

We also emphasise, as I'll show, a life cycle approach, because focusing on women only in productive age really starts too late and then ends too early. So trying to take a broader approach. Then we have a number of policy implications as well, which I'll go into.

For this audience, I probably don't need to dwell too much upon why this matters but I think it's important to continue to underline the business case, as well as the rights base, arguments for why we care about gender equality at work. On the business case, there are a range of estimates from Goldman Sachs, from McKinsey and others, which really document on the one hand the losses associated with a lack of realisation of equal opportunities for women, and the gains which could be reaped from enabling that to happen.

I mean, especially in times of sluggish economic growth, it really comes to the fore that these are a large set of loss opportunities. There's actually quite nice work which the World Bank has done, documented in the case of Latin America. One of the striking and possibly surprising facts that comes through in looking at labour force participation globally over the last 30 years is that it's pretty much stalled at about 56 per cent. It's risen by only one percentage point globally. That's in part because it's fallen in some places, but the exception to the rule, if you like, is Latin America. In Latin America we saw a significant increase over this period of some 17 percentage points as opposed to the world rate that you can see here which is more or less the same over that period.

The interesting thing about Latin America where we did a more detailed empirical analysis is that if it would have not been for this increase in participation in Latin America, the rates of poverty would be 30 per cent higher. So a really significant contribution to poverty reduction in the region of Latin America over the past 30 years.

The point that we try and underline in the report is that it's very important to go beyond labour force participation. For those of you who are familiar with the global literature, the focus often tends to be on participation and frankly I think one of the reasons why that is the case is because the data is hopeless. We don't often have information on earnings in particular. For the 10 largest developing countries we do actually have data on the share of women, for example, who have wage jobs and the earnings gap between men and women. So let me just illustrate this.

So this is for the 10 largest developing countries, I think representing about a third of the world's population. I'll just let you know what these different graphs represent. So the first one is the participation rate, the female rate relative to the male rate. The blue one is the share of women who are wage and salary workers, so you can see about 15 per cent, obviously low as well for men. The final one is female wages as a share of male wages.

So there's a couple of points that come clearly from this. One is that in all countries, except I think Brazil, the share of women who are in wage work is lower than the share of men. I mean, obviously wage work is not the end of the story, but for developing countries it's a reasonable proxy for some degree of employment security and can sometimes be used, I think at least as a leading indicator of whether or not people have at least some sense of a good job.

So far fewer women have wage and salary jobs because they work in the informal sector or they're working in agriculture. There are very significant wage gaps as well, in all of the countries except interestingly Turkey, which you can see here. So the women's wages are a pretty high share of the male wage, but you can see that very few women work. Only about 25 per cent of women work.

So one thing that we're trying to do with this report is to move us beyond labour force participation, at least in the global discussions. It's been a proxy for all we care about in work. We really need to be thinking about the broader returns. So this has important implications because so many of the women in poorer countries are working outside of the formal sector.

This more or less shows the same thing but it shows the male/female differences. So for the low income countries here, that's 60, 65 countries around the world, you can see the share of women having wage employment is very low, and very significant proportions in agriculture. You can compare that, for example, to the high income countries on the left hand side of the graph.

So the basic point that I'm making here is that we really need to be thinking about opportunities in informal work that's about entrepreneurship, self-employment, those sorts of opportunities. Of course enabling people to move in, as well, to the formal sector and the constraints on that, as well as very importantly what's happening in rural areas and to agriculture. The bottom line is that, say for example in India we've got 90 per cent of women working in the informal sector.

So what we do in this report is try and move this agenda forwards. What the world development report did in 2012, which was focused on gender, I think did a really nice job in framing the constraints on gender equality more broadly. We continue to rely on this so-called cogs in the wheel visual, I think because it really captures quite nicely on the right hand side the outcomes that we care about. So we care about economic opportunities but we also care about the endowments that people have and we also care about choice and agency. That these interact together.

On the left hand side, often-times, people who are focused on policy are thinking about this, about the laws, institutions, the formal regulations in place, but what this kind of visualisation does, I think, quite nicely is to highlight the informal institutions are terribly important. These are the attitudes and perceptions, the norms, the practices which matter. What happens within the household. So this is kind of society-wide, community-wide, but then also obviously what's happening within the family, the constraints which come about there, and then how markets operate and the degree to which there's accessibility there. Then I think very importantly it shows how these can interact together.

So just turning then to talk about attitudes and norms. Liz has been very eloquent on this topic in the Australian context and how these matter. But it's really difficult to account for what we see with respect to gender in the world of work without really fully considering how these norms and attitudes play out in practice. They really play such a driving role. So what I mean by norms, kind of widely held beliefs about what's appropriate in terms of behaviour.

Often-times they're not entirely consistent with what's happening in practice. So we do see differences and sometimes tensions arising. So for example with respect to violence some of the reasons it lists in some contexts where we see increased incidents of violence is where this kind of dissonance between expectations about, for example men being the primary breadwinner, and the fact that the woman is earning more.

So in Ethiopia for example, women who are working in export flower industry are at a higher risk of violence because there's tension in the household. I'm just giving a couple of examples here. In this report, what we're doing is exploiting the data that is available about norms and attitudes. There are a couple of really good sources for those of you who are interested. One is the World Values Survey, the latest round of which is just about to be released. What that does is really get at quite interesting issues around appropriate roles as well as a whole range of questions about politics, religion and so on.

They have a question about whether or not men should have greater priority to a job in cases of scarcity. You can see here that in the Middle East, in South Asia - well, 40 per cent globally feel that men should have greater priority to a job, which is a pretty high figure I think, but then when we look across different regions, particularly the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, as well as in [unclear] and to a lesser extent East Asia, there are high levels of agreement with that proposition.

Then the kind of important point here - I mean, attitudes obviously matter but then the question is, how does that affect behaviours and practices? What we see in practice is that in countries where people feel that men have a higher priority to jobs, actually the labour participation rates are much lower for women. I mean, I'm not trying to establish causality here but there does seem to be some association with respect to this example, about norms and outcomes.

The important thing about norms as well is that they're - often-times they're formalised in important ways. In laws, in institutions, in practices, as well as informal laws and institutions. A useful resource that the World Bank publishes every two years is something called Women, Business and the Law. So what we do there is document, for 143 economies around the world, legal differentiations between men and women, and then between married men and married women.

So a lot of the discriminations actually kick in upon marriage whereupon women become regarded as minors. There's some - I refer you to the report. There's probably a number of lawyers in the audience here who may well be interested. There are a couple of things which I think are quite striking. One is that over 90 per cent of countries have at least one legal differentiation, which I think is really quite striking. There are also significant shares of countries which have five or more differentiations. So over five or more have at least five and about half of those have more than 10. All the countries in the Middle East and North Africa for example have more than 10 differences. So what are those differences? They're differences like, for example, the ability to own property, to sell property, to access credit, to access institutions. Being able to work without the husband's permission, for example, is not possible in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

So there's a systematic documentation of these constraints, which we can in turn often-times trace back to these norms.

So what we want to do in - what we try to do in this report is connect how these sorts of constraints then translate into constraints on opportunities. What we're doing is looking at constraints as well at the household level. Here, an important source of data - I know that I'm throwing lots of data at you this afternoon but bear with me - the demographic and health survey. So what the demographic and health surveys do for around 50 countries - only shown for 25 here - is ask really quite interesting questions about tolerance of violence. So do you think it's okay to be beaten by your husband if you burn the dinner, or if you're late home, or if you refuse sex? Over half of women in general agree with that proposition. It's very high in some particular countries.

There's also questions, can you visit family and friends? Can you decide to visit family and friends? Again, there are significant constraints on that. Can you make your own healthcare decisions? Are you involved in major household purchase decisions? So what we're doing is looking at different dimensions of these constraints - or what we call the deprivations, where people aren't able to make those decisions - how they overlap in practice. How they correlate it as well, whether or not people are working or not working.

What we can see then in practice is that there is a lot of overlap in these dimensions as one might guess or expect. We can see that there's a significant correlation, for example, with not having education. So when we do the regression analysis that's one of the things that we find. Interestingly as well we find that there's an even stronger correlation with living in a rural area which can even overwhelm the effect of education. Having many kids is associated with less agency in a sense, so I think this is an interesting area to explore, in particular because we could also do it on a country by country basis.

So as I mentioned at the outset, one of the themes that we're trying to promote through the analysis in this report is a long term perspective at adopting a life cycle approach. So we need to understand that these underlying biases in terms of expectations and capabilities arise at different stages in the life cycle but often come really quite early. So what we've come up with are some of the usual suspects. So for example, differences in schooling but I think it also provides additional insights in to how these constraints can arise quit early but also be persistent and be exacerbated over time. So what I'm going to do is just give a few examples of these over the course of the life cycle, in particular highlighting what the policy implications are.

So on the policy side, with respect to children and youth, I think the accumulation of evidence shows the biases can actually start quite early. So there are studies, for example, that show even with infants crawling and those sorts of analyses where there can be different expectations of females and males, it's also the time when norms, if you like, are most pliable or it is possible to make a difference and change. Where there's some attention and effort, I think it's a major opportunity to address some of the underlying biases.

We also know that major constraints can arise during the schooling period. For example, girls dropping out of school when they start to menstruate, so the girl-friendly schools with separate toilet facilities for example, can make a big difference. There's a study in Burkina for example that documents that. There's quite a lot of evidence now about how actual financial incentives can help get kids, particularly girls, in school with conditional cash [unclear] that have been supported by the bank in a number of countries around the world.

Even once you have the girls in school, the content matters a lot. The content of the curricula, the way in which people are treated, obviously the safety of schools can be a major issue, including some countries in this region, in the Pacific. So ensuring that it's a safe place to learn and to ensure that there's not the stereotyping which can limit people's opportunities at an overly young age are avoided.

So there's some quite nice programs now, particularly on the school to work transition as well, with adolescent girls. The evidence there tends to show that it's the combination, not only of the technical training, but also the life skills. So girls can, for example, say no to forced sex, can have a better sense of what their own kind of possibilities are and potential is, can make a significant difference. This has been documented in a number of cases, including Liberia here where we've really got quite nice kind of positive results in terms of income and earnings. There's another example from Nicaragua where exposure to role models made a very significant difference to girls' aspirations and actually to their monetary returns from engaging in the workforce.

So during productive age, here they'll be - we'll be highlighting I think a number of things which I think are fairly familiar. I think an important focus on releasing the care burden and in the middle income countries with whom the bank works, there's a lot of interest in this area. So in Latin America there have been a number of initiatives which I think have been important and seem to be getting really good results. I give the example here of Mexico, where there have been vouchers, in Brazil the same. Turkey is another country, you saw very low levels of participation rates in Turkey. They're using - actually I think it's mainly construction of facilities there rather than vouchers to promote - to try and promote access.

I think the other point to make is that programs which are addressing, if you like, the financial constraints or some of the technical constraints combined with efforts or activities to, as I mentioned, increase women's own aspirations and expectations about what they're able to achieve, can be very important.

I guess a final point to make and it's, I think, pertinent today, given the focus on violence, is that we also have some experience with programs where, for example, finance has been combined with group activities designed to kind of change gender roles and reduce violence. There's a nice, well documented both program and study in South Africa, images where that was the case, where domestic violence was cut by half.

So moving right along here, this is just two that you know - well, I guess a couple of important things. One is that nine out of 10 jobs being created in developing countries are coming from the private sector so we really need to bring the private sector on board. As I've already emphasised, relatively few of the women are likely to be employed as wage employees so [unclear] the private sector activity is actually going to be kind of of their own volition. I think there's still a very important role for the private sector and I'm sure we'll hear more about this from Gordon.

What we've done - what we're trying to do now, particularly with the international finance corporation, which is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is just to really try and document what the business case is. So showing, for example, that having better conditions for female workers reduces turnover, reduces absenteeism and in turn has good gains in terms of proactivity.

So the - what the IFC has done is put together a group of client companies, so the companies, which are all listed here, some of which may be familiar, some big mining companies like Anglo American, I think Rio Tinto is there as well, Safaricom from Kenya have come together, some of the [unclear] culture companies have come together and they're really trying to document what the good practices are, what's worked and then to share those with others. There really are, I think, some quite powerful case studies there which resonate with companies in terms of the business case. Even if you weren't interested in women, if you're only interested in profits, you can argue that it's a good idea.

Then finally, as I mentioned, it's very important to be thinking about the elderly years. There's a couple of important reasons to be doing this. One is the growing share in the elderly in the population. So this graph here is for the world - this is for developing countries, the overall elderly demographic. So you can see a very significant increase, more than doubling, almost tripling within 50 years and the falling child dependency ratio. Some of you are probably familiar with China, for example, where I think this line is crossed, in the next couple of years Vietnam and other cases. So it's an important issue. In a surprising number of countries, there's still a legal differentiation between women and men in terms of retirement and entitlements. Actually they remain on the books for 49 countries around the world. That's one of the things which is tracked by Women, Business and the Law. That in turn can lead to early drop out, other forms of discrimination and so on.

Then finally, just in terms of implications for the World Bank Group, I'll be relatively brief on this but I think that there's a couple of things, one is that we recognise the complexity of the challenges. That on the one hand, there's no magic formula, but on the other hand, the onus is really on us to understand at the country level, what's going on and try and develop solutions appropriate for the context.

Obviously the norms are going to differ, the particular constraints which are in place are going to vary quite significantly. So the country-specific diagnostic work, often-times done in partnership with others, like the Australian government, the Asian Development Bank, is very important. Then trying to integrate those results into the work that we do and so kind of doing the analysis, the appropriate policy action, so for example we can support policy reforms, legal reforms for those in need and the institutional strengthening that might be needed.

Then very importantly as well, tracking the results. The shortage of gender segregated data is really quite appalling. So addressing that at the country level more generally but also monitoring the impacts of programs is really important. So that's something that we're trying to focus on in the period ahead because we really need to be showing results from what we're doing.

Another point that I have here is just around the investments in global knowledge. I guess data and knowledge. There's a lot that we know but there's a hell of a lot that we still don't know, about what works and what doesn't work, particularly in developing content. So I think a much more systematic review of what works, what doesn't work, sharing that knowledge, working with partners, I think plays an important role in the period ahead.

Then finally, not least, clearly working very closely with the private sector remains a priority, but let me stop there. Thank you.

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