Women Lag in Top Jobs in Europe
There are more women in top jobs in North America and in Latin America than in the European Union, a major new study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows.
In the Global Report on Equality at Work 2007 - launched on Thursday (10 May) - North American women take up 41.2 percent of legislative or managing positions while the numbers are 35 percent for women in South America and the Caribbean and 30.6 percent for women in the EU.
Looking at a period from 1995 to 2004, the biggest increase of women in top positions has been in South Asia where it has nearly doubled in nine years. However women in this region still hold the lowest share of these jobs at 8.6 percent.
Women still represent a distinct minority in such positions throughout the world, though, holding only 28.3 percent of the senior jobs up from 25.5 in 1995.
"A key measure of women's improvement is the availability of good-quality jobs for women in legislative, senior official or managerial positions with higher participation rates indicating a reduction of discriminatory barriers," the report stated.
A major theme of the ILO report is the persistent gender gaps in employment and pay and the need for integrated policies addressing sex discrimination in remuneration and occupational segregation by sex, while reconciling work and family responsibilities.
In the EU, for example, the difference in average gross hourly earnings between women and men across the economy has over the ten-year period remained high at 15 percent.
However, the female labour force participation rates have continued to rise significantly, currently at 56.6 percent worldwide and therefore narrowing the gender gap in labour participation rates.
The progress has been uneven though with 71.1 percent of North American women working, 62 percent of women in the EU, 61.2 percent in East Asia and the Pacific and 32 percent in the Middle East and North Africa.
The report points out that efforts to stamp out discrimination at work have increased significantly, saying "the condemnation of discrimination in employment and occupation is today almost universal, as is the political commitment to tackle it."
But it also stresses that the need to combat discrimination at work is more urgent now than it was four years ago "in the face of a world that appears increasingly unequal, insecure and unsafe."
"Significant and persistent inequalities in income, assets and opportunities dilute the effectiveness of any action aimed at combating discrimination. This may lead to political instability and social upheaval, which upset investment and economic growth," warns the report.
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