ADDIS ABABA. — The UN Women has called for policies and strategies to help Africa ensure women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
The call was made on Thursday at the opening of the Africa Ministerial Pre-Consultative Meeting on the Commission of the Status of Women 61st Session.
The meeting was held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa under the theme “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.”
The changing world of work is offering both challenges and opportunities for women, young and old as well as for the displaced persons on the African continent, noted Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, in her remarks at the opening of the meeting.
“We are also impacted and influenced by the fourth industrial revolution which is driven by the digital technology and ICTs as well as the green revolution which is also ahead of us,” she said.
“Africa as a continent has much to gain from making effective change in the world of work. Because of our young economies, our challenged economies also need to work, work even much better for women,” the executive director said.
Speaking on the occasion, Giovanie Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary for Knowledge Delivery of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said more than three-quarters of women in Africa are estimated to be in vulnerable employment.
More than 70 percent of African women are in the informal employment, characterised by precariousness, endemic low pay and difficult working conditions, according to Biha.
Access to decent, productive employment remains a persistent defining challenge for the majority of African women, she noted.
“This situation exposes women to risks as they lack access to social protection or social security services linked to formal employment,” she said.
“Thus, women face double discrimination, related to gender equality and discrimination inherent to the nature of informal sector.”
She also recalled that African women shoulder the burden of unpaid care work because of unequal intra-household power relationships and division of labour.
Demitu Hambisa, Ethiopian Minister of Women and Children Affairs, noted that women’s participation in the economic sphere is narrow and largely confined to domestic work.
“They are mostly engaged in low-paying unskilled jobs in the formal economic sector, which makes them largely reliant on men for economic support for themselves and their families,” said the minister.
The UN Women states that the economic costs of gender disparity in labour market in sub-Saharan Africa is constraining achievements of its full economic potential, averaging a loss of about $95 billion annually since 2010.
The UN Women underlines the need for gender responsive macro-economic policies, programmes that recognise women’s potential as drivers of Africa’s transformation agenda and address barriers to their full participation. — Xinhua.