This series highlights the work of the five Gender Innovation Labs (GILs) that constitute the GIL Federation, a World Bank community of practice coordinated by the World Bank Gender Group. The briefs include key findings from impact evaluations of development interventions in nine areas (education, labor markets, entrepreneurship, agriculture, land titling, care, social protection, gender-based violence, and adolescent girls). They provide evidence and lessons on how to close gender gaps and foster women’s economic empowerment in these areas. They also serve as an analytical foundation for the World Bank Gender Strategy 2024-2030.
Significant gender gaps in labor force participation persist around the world. When women do work, they are much more likely than men to engage in vulnerable employment with lower earnings and worse working conditions. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered larger losses in employment for women than for men across the globe. Several factors constrain women’s labor force participation and employment outcomes. On the supply side, time and mobility constraints and differences in endowments (skills, assets, and networks) limit women’s labor force participation and wages. On the demand side, discrimination in hiring and retention, lack of jobs with convenient features (childcare, maternity leave, flexible schedules), and skills mismatch are key constraints. All these are combined with contextual factors, including social and cultural norms, that restrict women’s labor force participation. The GIL Federation is generating rigorous evidence around the world to understand what works, and what does not, in supporting women’s labor market participation. This note presents evidence on seven key findings.