©Korean government

Of the abundant resources given to mankind, what is the most underused resource of our time? Without a doubt, women! 

With the new forms of employment, we are getting further and further away from equal pay for equal work. And not just between men and women. 

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Unequal pay between men and women continues to pose problems, despite decades of legislation by governments to address it, like the Equal Pay Act in the United States and the French labour code on wage equality introduced about half a century ago. In fact, not only are women still paid considerably less than men throughout the world, but UN predictions suggest the gap will persist for 70 years to come.  

Only a fine performance: Actress Judy Davis in the 1979 film adaptation of My Brilliant Career © AFP/Kobal/The Picture Desk

“I am only a woman!” declares Sybylla Melvyn with deliberate irony, in the Australian classic novel, My Brilliant Career. When Miles Franklin wrote the novel in 1901, aged just 19, she was embarking on her own career path, and though successful, like Sybylla, she encountered many social, economic and cultural hurdles along the way.

©David Rooney

Reconciling work and family commitments is a challenge in every country, but particularly for Japanese men and women. Much more so than in most other OECD countries, men and women have to choose between babies and bosses: men choose bosses, women less so, but on the whole there are very few babies and there is too little female employment. These shortcomings are increasingly coming to the fore and will have to be addressed.

©Rune Kongsro

High female participation in the workforce has a decisive effect on a country’s performance, as Norway shows. 


Regrettably, gender discrimination is still a problem in our societies and our economies. In fact, “problem” is far too weak a word. It is more accurate to speak of an unacceptable injustice. Women have fewer opportunities in terms of education, employment and entrepreneurship and are, on average, less well paid for their work. 


Are women in Arab countries on the verge of achieving real, lasting, change and empowerment? The answer depends on whether they can keep up momentum for change and influence government policies. 

©Evaristo SA/AFP

Wherever I go, in every country, women are demanding that their voices are heard. From the Arab states, where women continue to stand up for freedom and democracy, to all regions of the globe, the calls for equal rights, opportunity and participation are spreading and have brought significant change over the years. 

The long road towards gender equality has arrived at greater educational attainment, higher female labour force participation, and advances in politics and business, but we haven’t reached the end yet. 

Half the world’s workforce, 1.5 billion working women and men, are in vulnerable employment. The global economic crisis has swelled the ranks of those whose jobs do not provide enough to meet basic needs, the “working poor”, by more than 100 million people, mainly women.

©Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The corporate world is far from making the most out of gender diversity in the workplace. But some businesses are finding innovative ways to change this. 

Cherie Blair ©OECD

Discrimination against women hurts everyone. As Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Cherie Blair explains, women entrepreneurs are an economic resource that economies, rich and poor alike, can ill afford to overlook.

Most people would probably agree that female employment and maternity leave are related issues. But did you know that female employment rates are not always highest in countries where paid maternity leave is longest?

Could action on gender help jumpstart efforts to make the Millennium Development Goals deadline by 2015? The third goal already explicitly aims to “promote gender equality and empower women” (MDG3), but gender has a direct and profound impact on several other targets, too.

© ACJA-Fonds Curie & Joliot-Curie

It is a century since Marie Curie won two Nobel prizes, one for physics and the other for chemistry. How can more women be encouraged to work in science?

Job market: a gender approach.

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More women go to work today than 40 years ago, but their pay has not kept pace with men’s. Some 58% of women on average in the OECD area worked in 2008, up from 45% in 1970, ranging from 70% of women in the Nordic countries to less than 50% in Greece, Italy, Mexico and Turkey. Indeed, with fewer women staying at home, dual-earner families are now commonplace in most OECD countries; only in Japan, Mexico and Turkey are single-income families more common. However, men are often still the main earners in dual-earner families because so many women work part-time and for lower wages than their husbands. In the Netherlands, a relatively egalitarian country, 60% of women work part time, compared with 16% of men.

Has gender equality improved since International Women’s Day was first launched a century ago? The answers heard during this year’s global events on 8 March were mixed. Yes, progress has been made, but discrimination continues everywhere, which not only harms women but holds back society’s potential too.

Arab Innovative Teachers Forum, Morocco, April 2008 ©Rafael Marchante/REUTERS

Hana Barqawi realised her dream of opening her own children's furniture store two years ago in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Ms Barqawi is part of a wave of female entrepreneurs that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa area over the past decade or more. 

©Reuters/Adnan Abid

Just how significant is international migration in the light of other globalisation developments? One obvious starting point for answering the question is to ask how many of the current world population of 6.7 billion people are international migrants, defined as persons living outside their country of birth.

©André Faber

Long ago I gave up trying to break through the so-called “glass ceiling” that has kept women like me out of higher management. Instead I decided to create new enterprises in which management could be reinvented by women. On 8 March 2005, I launched a business incubator devoted exclusively to projects by female entrepreneurs.

©ACJA-Fonds Curie & Joliot-Curie

It is a century since Marie Curie won two Nobel prizes, one for physics and the other for chemistry. How can more women be encouraged to work in science? A timely question in view of International Women's Day on 8 March.

Which came first, working mothers or day care centres? More mothers in the workforce generally spur the development of childcare facilities. In this study of four of the wealthier OECD countries–Canada, Finland, Sweden and the UK–where three out of four women between the ages of 25 and 54 hold down jobs, the Swedish experience suggests that without publicly-assisted childcare, the upper limit for female employment would be around 60%.

Gender equality has come a long way since International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Europe in 8 March 1911. But while there is reason to celebrate, there is also far more to be done. The Gender, Institutions and Development Database (GID), a new OECD database (see link below), can help point the way forward. It shows deeply rooted social norms and traditions continue to harm women’s economic opportunities in many countries around the world.

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