WOMEN in Zimbabwe continue to lag behind in terms of job opportunities with recent survey results showing that males dominated 2022 second quarter employment statistics at 44,8 percent compared to 27,4 percent for females, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says.
ILO specialist on informal economy, Ms Annamarie Kiaga, revealed this during a virtual presentation of the 2022 Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) Second Quarter Labour Survey results.
“What we see is that there are fewer women of working age that are employed or participating in the labour market.
“Why does this gender gap matter? We at ILO believe this freedom of work by choice and in conditions of dignity, safety and fairness is integral to human welfare.
“Now guaranteeing women the right to have access to work is important in itself. But this gender gap in Zimbabwe is of concern,” she said.
Ms Kiaga said in 2016, when ILO conducted a study worldwide, including in Zimbabwe, on attitude and perceptions of women and men to work, 81 percent of women in the country indicated preference to work for a paid job.
According to the ILO, in the period under review, in terms of employment status, 50,1 percent males were employees while 5,8 percent were employers. On the contrary, 45,2 percent were female employees while just 4,7 percent of the females were employers.
Dependent contractors constituted 3,2 percent of the males while females constituted 9 percent. A dependent contractor is a worker that is not an employee, but who is still considered to be economically dependent on the company or individual that they work for.
The survey also showed that 1 percent of the males were contributing family workers while females constituted 2,5 percent.
“We see that there are more women than men as dependent contractors and more as contributing family workers. This is significant because as dependent workers, they do not have complete authority or control over the economic unit for which they work.
“And as contributing family workers, there are no guarantees for regular payments for the work they do and they do not also make any decisions that can actually affect the enterprise they work in or have responsibility for,” she said.
This, she said, indicates that women tend to be in low quality jobs and such employment makes them vulnerable because of lack of decision making. In terms of the share of informal employment in sectors that include agriculture, during the quarter under review, males constituted 65,6 percent while their female counterparts’ contribution was 66,2 percent.
Ms Kiaga said the gap existing in employment to population ratio was a cause for concern as this could imply that it is hard for women to find jobs.
“We already know from social science that women’s preference is key to determining whether or not they can seek employment or they can engage in paid work.
“Moreover, these preferences are very much influenced by the social economic constraints and the pressures to conform to traditional gender roles,” she said.
Ms Kiaga said it was imperative to explore what is constraining women’s employment in Zimbabwe and thus identifying and quantifying such barriers will allow policy makers to develop smarter policy responses for eliminating them.
The survey also revealed that the labour force participation rate during the period under review was skewed towards men at 54,7 percent against women’s 35,6 percent.
In the second quarter labour force survey, ILO also indicated that unemployment rate for males aged 15 years and above was 18,1 percent while that for females from the same age range stood at 23,1 percent
“In Zimbabwe with these statistics, what we see in our society today is increased drug and substance abuse, increase in suicide. Is there a relationship? I am hoping that we will be able at some point to bring this data set together and try and figure out whether or not there is a relationship between the two because if there is, then it is a concern for all of us,” said Ms Kiaga.
“However, we also see there is an emerging concern of increasing unpaid care work that women in general are involved in. Considering that labour market opportunities are never evenly distributed, I hope a few issues raised here or ideas on what to do can help in rolling more equitable evidence-based policy-making for better outcomes for young men and women.”
According to ZimStat survey findings, the working age population was estimated at 9 million constituting 59 percent of Zimbabwe’s total population. It said the total labour force obtained from the survey was four million giving a total Labour Force Participation Rate of 44 percent.
“Around 3,3 million of the working age population were currently employed. The national employment to population ratio stood at 35 percent. Harare had the highest proportion of the employed population at around 26 percent followed by Mashonaland West at 13 percent.
“Matabeleland North with 2 percent had the least proportion,” said the agency.
It said a total of 29 percent of the employed population was in the formal sector while 45 percent were in the informal sector with those in employment, 21 percent and 5 percent were in the agriculture and household sectors, respectively.
A total of 80 percent of the employed population were informally employed and among those employed in the non-agriculture sectors, 85 percent were informally employed.
“The wholesale trade; retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles industry had the largest proportion of the employed population at 26 percent followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing with 21 percent. Sixty-two percent of the employed population earned income of less than $20 000 during the month of April 2022.
“Among the paid employees, 27 percent earned income of less than $20 000 again during the month of April 2022,” said ZimStat.
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