This panel will seek feedback on new research into the causes and consequences of, and policies to address, the extremely low - and in some cases falling - levels of paid employment for women in eight countries in these three regions, which are so costly in empowerment, social and economic terms.
This roundtable will present and seek feedback on plans for comparative research into the causes and consequences of extremely low levels of paid employment for women in three developing regions. The panellists are members of a new SOAS-led group which has been working to generate a substantive, innovative research agenda with the support of an ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund 2016 grant. The session will be chaired by an eminent gender scholar from outside the group. The group is multidisciplinary and the proposed research will focus on women's labour force participation in the three developing regions. In all three cases, participation rates are extremely low and in several countries falling further, despite great differences in economic structures. The research agenda is multi-faceted, with discrete, but interlinked components. It covers (a) the interplay of economic and labour market structures, policies and institutions, on both supply and demand sides, as determinants of women's access to employment and (b) the patterns of women's economic participation by education, marital and household status as drivers of inequality. Two cross cutting themes are also integrated into the agenda: the pervasive effects of patriarchal norms and the complex relationship between gender violence and women's employment. While the social and empowerment benefits of women's paid employment have long been acknowledged, recent high level discussion of the economic benefits now have some traction among national policymakers. The new understandings generated by this research will point to new policy approaches to address this key issue.