ULAANBAATAR, 27 March, 2018 – Mongolia ranks 53rd out of 159 countries in gender inequality globally, but many Mongolian women face challenges in accessing jobs and career opportunities, says a new World Bank study. Gender gaps in the country’s labor market include different rates of labor force participation, unequal pay, and the higher tendency of women to work in unsecure informal work.
The study, Perceptions of Precariousness: A Qualitative Study of Constraints Underlying Gender Disparities in Mongolia’s Labor Market, was launched today in Ulaanbaatar during a workshop co-organized with the Mongolian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. Around 70 participants from government, civil society organizations, and private sector joined in the event.
“The study - the first in-depth qualitative research on gender disparities in the labor market - relies on interviews and focus group discussions with members of various strata of society as well as local labor and social welfare offices. It also provides critical recommendations to address these disparities,” – said Achim Daniel Schmillen, World Bank Senior Economist and co-author of the study.
On average, Mongolian women are better educated than their male peers, yet they are less likely to make use of this education, the study highlights. Instead, the gender gap in labor force participation rates has more than doubled in the last twenty years, exceeding 12.6 percent today. More women, particularly in rural areas, take on unsecure informal work and unpaid family work, and far few women participate in entrepreneurial endeavors compared to men.
“The divergence of labor force participation between Mongolian men and women highlights stark differences,” – said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. “Addressing these gaps in the labor market will ultimately help Mongolia make the most of its most valuable resource: its people.”
The qualitative research outlines the constraints underlying the gaps, which include traditional norms and values in the workplace, eldercare and childcare facilities that are inadequate in quality and quantity. This finding complements other World Bank research on pre-primary education in Mongolia which drew attention to the lack of preschool education access for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children despite the overall increase in enrolment rates. The cost of such exclusion accrues not only to the child, but to caregivers who are kept out of the labor market, and to society.
The gaps could be remedied through improvements in the legal and regulatory environment tackling gender-specific constraints. One important step is to enforce antidiscrimination policies and monitor gender indicators. Expanding and upgrading eldercare and childcare services will encourage more women to stay in jobs, as would broader access to early-childhood education services, particularly in the most underserved rural areas.
Increasing access to finance and training can help women entrepreneurs realize the full potential of their businesses. Lastly, long-term measures to influence gender norms and attitudes among employers, human-resource managers, and the wider population should be part of the strategy.