Countries Where Women Are Least Active In The Workforce

Most countries see active participation from both men and women in the workforce.
Most countries see active participation from both men and women in the workforce.

According to a modeled ILO estimate as at 2016, 62.87% of the global population was employed, a 3.57% decline from 66.44% registered in 1990.The percentage of women actively involved in the labor force stagnates between 39.54% in 1990 and 39.38 in 2014, despite efforts spearheaded by various labor unions. This article looks at some of the countries with the least female participation in the labor force.

10. Samoa (26% participation rate)

Twenty-six percent of women are part of the active labor force in Samoa. According to the ILO, the education level in Samoa among women is low but being educated does not necessarily mean securing employment. Just like many other economies, the job market for youth was limited, and women bear the highest brunt.

9. Timor-Leste (25% participation rate)

Twenty-five percent of women are part of the workforce in the little know state of Timor-Leste. Despite making major steps in its education system, women still face discrimination compounded by the inability of the country to feed itself. One of the major reforms that the county has undertaken is the rise in female parliamentary representation from 26.1% in 2003 to 38.5% in 2016.

8. Saudi Arabia (22% female participation rate)

The Middle East country of Saudi Arabia is one of the Islamic nations where marginalization of women is extreme, not only in the labor market but also in other sectors. Twenty-two percent of the women are part of the workforce in the state which also bans driving of vehicles by women despite the country’s wealth.

7. Iran (18% female participation rate)

Eighteen percent of women are part of the labor force in Iran. Islamization has been identified as one of the leading causes of the low rate. The revolution witnessed in Iran has led to increased enrollment of women in academic institutions, but it has not led to significant impact on the job market.

6. Jordan (17% female participation rate)

Only 17% of women are part of the workforce in Jordan. The Islamic nation just like other Islamic nations experiences cultural taboos against the participation of women in the workforce. The already strained Jordanian economy is currently harboring thousands of Syrian refugees seeking jobs and better living conditions further straining the economy.

5. Palestine (16% female participation rate)

Mere 16% of women are active in the Palestine labor force. According to ILO as at 2013, the employment rate for men stood at 68.7 while that of women remained stagnated at a quarter of the men's rate. The low rate of women is due to the unconducive environment due to constant shelling by Israel and the cultural mandates.

4. Algeria (16% female participation rate)

The North African state of Algeria also registered a 16% female participation rate in the labor market. Over the past years, tremendous steps have been achieved in the education system that witnessed more women seek tertiary education. Despite the effort, adverse cultural practices demeaning women are still practiced, and reports of men confiscating their wives’ salaries are not uncommon.

3. Afghanistan (16% female participation rate)

Afghanistan faces a similar fate as Iraq and Syria and has a 16% female participation rate. The country has been at a contestant state of war since it was invaded by the US and its allies in 2001. The Islamic culture has also played a major role compounded with the harsh climate and political instability in the country.

2. Iraq (16% female participation rate)

Just like Syria, Iraq has been ravaged by war since the ousting of Saddam by coalition forces in 2003. The Islamic nation registered a 16% female participation rate in the workforce due to the unconducive working environment, punitive culture and a high number of immigrants leaving the country for other countries.

1. Syria (15% female participation rate)

Syria tops the list with a mere 15% women's participation rate; this may not come as a surprise considering that it is a majority Muslim nation and war stricken. Apart from the culture that bars women from working, the working environment in Syria is not conducive due to the ongoing crisis that is not likely to end anytime soon.


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