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Rebekah Burroway

Research Findings

The promise and the reality of women’s work in developing countries

May 1, 2019
A woman working in a rice field near Tananarive. 1/Jan/1981. Tananarive, Madagascar. UN Photo/Lucien Rajaonina.

Over the last fifteen years, gender gaps in employment remained steady in many parts of the world, while the gaps grew wider in others. The chance for women to participate in the labor market is about 27 percent lower than for men, according to a recent report by the International Labor Organization.

Improving women’s employment prospects is a long-standing goal of development agencies worldwide. Scholars, policy makers, and development practitioners alike claim that employment empowers women, reduces poverty, and improves child health, especially in developing countries.

But a recent study of mine suggests that this is not always the case. Employment is not necessarily a tool for women’s empowerment and better health in poor countries.

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