Incentives to work

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Initiated by: Anna Falth
09-Jan-2014

The ease, cost, and availability of childcare for young children and free public education for school-age children can affect a parents’ decision to work outside the home for paid compensation, or to stay at home with the children. The 2014 Women, Business and the Law report finds that childcare subsidies, such as tax credits, and the availability of childcare, increase women’s participation in the labor force. 

Economies providing employment incentives for women

 – In your experience, what is the impact of laws providing for tax-deductible or government subsidized childcare, public provisions of childcare and free and compulsory primary education on women’s and men’s work-life balance and women’s employment? 

 – In your experience, how are these laws implemented in your country? What do you find are the greatest obstacles to implementation? What would you recommend to improve the implementation of these laws? 

Please share your practitioner views, observations and experiences. We would also like to hear your stories and real life experiences.

    Jader Oliveira

    29 Jan 2014 18:09

    Dear friends !
    Next week the International Seminar PAA + Food Procurement in the International Year of Family Farming held in Brazil. This government program to buy the production of small farmers and distribute to poor families. Part of the funds ( 30 % ) must be used to purchase food produced by women and their cooperatives. This is an opportunity to follow the rules of the program. The event will be divided into four panels that discuss the importance of the program for family farms and local development , its impact in promoting proper nutrition and its role as an international reference for the Brazilian public policy program inspired PAA Africa, which operates in five countries of that continent and fed 125,000 students with the production of over 5000 farmers. The seminar will be broadcast online on 04 February at the address below :
    http://www.paa10anos.com.br
    programming:
    http://www.mds.gov.br/saladeimprensa/noticias/2014/janeiro/programacao-seminario-paa-final-3.pdf

    Ifoda Abdurazakova

    28 Jan 2014 23:15

    This is an interesting discussion on incentives for women to be able to work and be able to provide some financial support to their families. In societies, such as in Europe and in the USA, families with kids do not necessarily always get enough support from their family members. At the same time, this concept is very broadly practiced in other countries, including in Uzbekistan. 

    Please let me describe a young woman’s life in this country, which is often prescribed by family, society and dominated by its inner culture/religion. Education is available for all and indeed, free compulsory education helps young women to be better equipped with necessary qualifications. Young girls do not have any obstacles to get education, however, the problem remains within families and prescribed by culture. For example, in some regions, young girls-who might have been getting straight excellent grades- will be considered for a marriage or the best situation when they will be allowed to study only in female stereotypical majors (such as to become teachers and nurses). 

    Most young people get married in their early 20s and expected to have at least 2-3 kids. Often parents support young families or a young family stays together with groom’s family. There are limited child-care services for younger kids and most women stay home taking care of them. Once they are ready to work, opportunities are limited. 

    There are necessary laws and regulations, however, most of them hindered by societal prescriptions and connected with the historical role of women. So, tax incentives could help women to be in the workforce for an extended period, get support from family and provide an avenue for growth.

    Elizabeth Slattery

    28 Jan 2014 20:53

    Prasida Khanal started this strand of the e-discussion with an interesting comment that although the Government of Nepal has committed to reserve 33 percent of positions to women less than 1 percent of high level decision making positions are occupied by them. I thought it might be interesting to return to this thought. Employment incentives and political will alone may not be enough to ensure a significant shift in the percentages of women holding such positions.

    According to the GMI Ratings 2013 Women on Boards survey only 11.8% of directorships of companies in industrialised markets are held by women. The figure in emerging markets (according to the same survey) is 7.4%. The European Commission estimates that at the current rate of progress it will take another 40 years to achieve gender balanced boardrooms in Europe.

     

    These statistics are driving discussions, particularly in Europe, about whether legislation is needed to require women to be appointed to senior decision making roles, or whether voluntary action is sufficient to address the gender imbalance at director level.

     

    Countries such as the UK have taken the view that formal quotas are undesirable, and that restrictions on companies flexibility to appoint directors are unnecessary. Between 2011 when a report on the issue "Women on Boards" was published by Lord Davies and a review of progress in 2013, the percentage of women directors in the FTSE 100 increased from 12.5% to 17.3%.

     

    In contrast, countries such as France and Italy have recently imposed quotas that initially require at least 20% of board positions to be filled by women. Some Scandinavian countries, notably Norway, introduced similar quotas several years ago. Germany has also recently agreed to introduce a quota for women on boards, having previously supported a voluntary approach. France in particular (where appointments that do not comply with the quota can be nullified) saw an increase in the proportion of women sitting on CAC 40 boards from 12.3% to 22.3% between October 2010 and January 2012 (see the Women in economic decision making in the EU progress report).

     

    At EU level a Directive for improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies is currently under discussion. This will set an objective of 40% of the under-represented sex filling non-executive positions on listed company boards (excluding SMEs) by 2020. Sanctions are a matter for individual member states, but will only apply if companies who have not met the target have also failed to put in place arrangements to give equally qualified candidates of the under-represented sex priority in any recruitment process. It therefore remains to be seen whether a Directive will make a significant difference to the number of women being appointed to board positions.

    Rangita De Silva De Alwis

    28 Jan 2014 17:02

    The stereotypical attribution of caregiving to women has confined women uniquely to this role, thus not only diminishing their employment opportunities but their full capacity as citizens.  Caregiving policies should be  egalitarian  in outcome. Law is an important and necessary  means of dismantling  harmful stereotypes of women and curbing reinforcement and perpetuation  of these stereotypes.  The lack of shared caregiving policies, for instance, constitutes both direct and indirect discrimination against women who traditionally bare the brunt of caregiving responsibilities.  It is imperative  that laws transform  the social value attached to child care by including the role of both parents  in caregiving equality.  Equal opportunities  must be provided for both men and women  to fulfill their caregiving  roles in order that men not suffer disadvantages and women not suffer stereotypes.  Caregiving laws must be re-envisioned  in the image of both men and women. Harmonizing work family  obligations  for both men and women  must be the rallying cry for  new law making.

    For example, Finland's Act on Equality between Women and Men makes equal care giving in family a priority. The law states than an employer  has a duty to develop working conditions so that they are suitable  for both women and men."

    Mandating family leave policies that cover both men and women is key to retaining women in the marketplace and in advancing women in the economy. Unless men play an equal role in caregiving women's equality in the work place or in the home will not be guaranteed.

    In Norway, fathers are allowed four weeks of leave of absence- if they do not take it they lose it . In Iceland, father's independent nontransferable entitlement is now three months. Other programs in Iceland  aim at enabling fathers to be present at the birth of their children/ One of the roles of the program is to prepare preparatory material  to prospective fathers. Health service employees are called upon to engage with fathers.

    Constructing gender equal caregiving  as a policy issue must be central to women's economic empowerment and advancement in the labor market.

    Rangita de Silva de Alwis

    Director, Women in  Public Service Project

    Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

           

    Poh Ching Tan

    28 Jan 2014 05:19

    Generally, there is still discrimination in the types of jobs women should hold.  There are still much fewer female lawyers, doctors, politicians and engineers. The gender identity associated with physical inferiority should not be the barrier for women entering these professions, as these occupations require more on the mental capabilities.  But rather the societal barriers and education access to certain courses or even the individuals' own thinkings have caused the lack of women in these sectors as percentages of females has remained relatively low, though with slight improvements over the years.

    Ngozi Iwere

    27 Jan 2014 22:31

    The situation in Nigeria is similar to that of Colombia. Day Care Centers for children younger than 2 years are few and far between. Most women are able to stay in paid employment largely because of Nannies and "House Helps" who are usually girls from poor homes and rural communities, engaged on paltry wages. This is where gender meets class. Many of the Nannies are unable to go to school and are subjected to hardships, inhumane conditions, and abuse, including sexual abuse. The elderly and older women also provide support for younger women and mothers to stay in paid employment. It is not unusual to find middle-age women taking leave and time off their own jobs, economic and social activities to go help out their daughters with young children for periods of time. In a country where over 70% of economic activities occur in the informal sector, perhaps in addition to incentives for women's stay in paid employment, policies should also support more self-employment for women, the forms of employment that allow for independence and flexible schedules.

    Poh Ching Tan

    25 Jan 2014 14:02

    People who have been in the "Ivory Tower" for many years and those who have not been through Baptism of Fire will not understand the difficulties of what others go though and need for help in the society.  Hence, it is important to let those policy makers get the messages and understand why.

    Poh Ching Tan

    25 Jan 2014 13:59

    Eventually, most of the policy makers are males in most governments around the world.  We really need more females representatives in the government to speak up for women and only women can understand the welfare of women more, besides having more women members would increase voting power in the government and therefore having more say in debates.

    Jasmin Sibayan

    25 Jan 2014 02:35

    In the Philippines there is an imbalance of how these laws are being implemented. Usually some of this incentives are only present and being implemented on big and multinational corporations. According to the government they cannot afford to monitor all of the companies and regulate them regarding implementation due to lack of funds and workforce. But as i can observe it it's not the real issue. I think the reason behind this is graft and corruption, mis- management and lack of political will to really abide on this laws. This is why it has a ripple and domino effect on the women. This is one of the reason why women preferred to go out of the country to work as an overseas worker, because they can fully reap the fruit of their harvest better than home. I think the government should be honest enough to implement and this laws and resolve some of the issues affecting not only the women, family, society and the whole country as well.

    Ned Lawton

    24 Jan 2014 16:54

    There are in essence two ILO Conventions that deal with the issue of work-life balance, the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, No. 156 (1981) and the Maternity Protection Conventions, No. 183 (2000). However neither a particularly widely ratified, 42 and 22 ratifications respectively. The reality is that childcare solutions are not considered as a central component of employment policy in most countries, but range from being non-existent to being peripheral. Significantly in the countries where child-care solutions are more tangibly and visibly integrated into employment policy (notably in Northern Continental Europe) there is far greater equality in the workplace in terms of wages and labour force participation

    Poh Ching Tan

    21 Jan 2014 05:58

    Even in developed countries like Singapore, childcare cost is not cheap.  For example, a private childcare centre charges more than SGD 1000 for one child.  For public childcare centres, it can also be SGD500  to 700 per child.  Please consider the average salary of a female in Singapore which is about SGD 2000 to 3000+++ but the mother also has her own living expenses to take care of and also to help to contribute to other aspects of the household expenses of a family, for double income families when both husband and wife are working.  But this couple can have more than one child.  Hence, to raise a child with investments in his or her education and enjoying a certain standard of lifestyle, it is definitely not cheap.

    For poorer families at lower end of the society, they can apply for subsidies for the childcare though.

    Prasida Khanal

    21 Jan 2014 01:10

           In a developing country such as Nepal, women have multiple roles to play. Their time constraints are so severe that their participation in income-generating activities results in reduced childcare time, which in turn affects the child health. The increase in the number of women joining the workforce is bringing needed income to their families. However, it is also creating conflicts in reconciling income-earning activities and traditional child care responsibilities. In a typical joint family structure in Nepal, usually grandparents or adult care givers. With a GDP of $ 690, paid childcare still remains a luxury for most of the working strata of women.

           Nepal needs to formulate legislation that fosters options for meeting the child care needs of working mothers with children under two years of age. This will enable working mothers to provide custodial care and fulfill the nutritional concerns. Moreover, the nation needs to design policy that makes child care accessible, affordable, and sustainable to the poor working mothers. The new law can mix government support (subsidies) with community-level contributions in terms of funds, infrastructure, food, supplies, and labor. Furthermore, the integration of the childcare centers at the work place must be appropriate with respect to care location and in achieving a harmony between women’s work and child care responsibilities. Nevertheless, Nepal needs a political stability, sustainable energy, and industrial revolution to uplift the economic status of Nepalese women. Eventually, it will empower them to invest in child care.

     

    Elizabeth Villagomez

    20 Jan 2014 18:12

    In my research and also personal experience on a number of developed and developing countries one has to look at the legislation but also the tax-benefit systems as a whole as well as the societal commitment to equality, not only gender equality. Indeed other factors such as ease of access to services (which includes transport or proximity of the services) should be taken into account. Most importantly, the time use dimension has to be taken into account in order for these legislation and derived policies to have the intended impact. Also, looking for the markets where these services can be better placed can make or break the policy (should they be at the work centers? should they be in the residential areas? Should they be directly provided or privately provided and subsidized? Should the services be recognized as incomplete markets that will need the intervention of the state to ensure quality and accessibility?). Final net impact of all of these elements (that can be measured through micro-simulation models, for example) needs to be better modeled and measured, including time use.

    I would add another dimension to the employment incentives for women in the graph above, and that would be services for adult dependents. Although indeed ageing of society is one of the greatest challenges for Europe  as a region at the moment and some other developed countries, the other regions are quickly catching up. And the trend in some regions, such as LAC, is that women are being "sandwiched" between small children to look after and dependent adults as life expectancies continue on the increase and the age of having the first child gets pushed to older ages. Another important demographic change is the increasing number and percentage of women heads of households. Legislation has to individualize benefits and rights. Family oriented legislation can be going against the actual trends in society and ultimately hurt women. Child benefits and services have to be for the child, no doubt that this will free up women's time and to a lesser extent men's, but the orientation of the legislation has to be increasingly based on individual rights depending on the life cycle stage.

    Implementation in general has to do with budgets, and this is why having evidenced based measurements of the design of the tax benefit systems and how they impact the decisions of households has to be improved, especially in developing countries. Other challenges to implementation are general governance issues including fight against corruption so that services, benefits or any other instrument chosen to strengthen incentives for women’s employment can actually work.

    Last but not least is one of the most important elements to increase women’s activity rates and employment: education and training. Although the MDGs show a very good advance in universal primary school coverage, there are still many illiterate women and also women from certain ethnic backgrounds or experimenting circumstances that exclude them from educational opportunities. Without these all of our other efforts can also result in vain.

    Jader Oliveira

    20 Jan 2014 14:15

    The Socioeconomic Annual Report of Women ( Brazil - Secretariat of Policies for Women Brasilia : november, 2013 ) suggests that women work in industries or sectors related to the roles traditionally assigned to them : accommodation and food, education, health and social services, household services and other social, collective and personal services. Here are about 45 % of the female working population. Domestic work is the occupational category of skilled labor largely feminine, occupies 6.6 million people, 92 % or 6.1 million are women ( IBGE , PNAD , 2011). The majority ( 68.8 %) of people in this activity does not have a formal contract ( IBGE , PNAD , 2011) .
    In 2013, the Brazilian Constitution was amended in his art. 7 ( http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/constituicao/Emendas/Emc/emc72.htm ) to establish equal labor rights for domestic workers and other urban and rural workers, such as minimum wage, irreducibility salary; guarantee of wages not less than the minimum for receiving variable pay, thirteenth salary, wage protection under the law; normal working hours not exceeding eight hours and 44 hours, provided the compensation and reducing journey times by agreement or collective bargaining agreement, paid weekly rest, preferably on Sundays; pay higher overtime at least fifty per cent of normal; enjoyment of paid annual leave of at least, a third more than normal wages, maternity leave, without loss of employment and salary, for the duration of one hundred and twenty days; paternity leave; proportional to length of service prior notice, being not less than thirty days; reducing the risks inherent in working through standards of health, hygiene and safety, retirement, recognition of conventions and collective agreements; prohibition of wage differences, of office and hiring criteria by reason of sex, age, color, or marital status; prohibition of discrimination with respect to wages and hiring criteria worker bearer insufficiency; prohibition of night, dangerous or unhealthy to under eighteen (http://portal.mte.gov work. br / trab_domestico). The rules of the law is the responsibility of Congress. http://www.mulheres.gov.br/noticias/ultimas_noticias/2014/01/15-01-spm-divulga-indicadores-sobre-situacao-socioeconomica-da-mulher/image/image_view_fullscreen.

    Keiko Nowacka

    20 Jan 2014 10:37

    Public policies and measures to increase women's access to the formal labour market are always welcome but are in many countries still only one step towards ensuring that women can achieve true work-life balance. OECD's Closing the Gender Gap  (2012, p209) report shows how work-family balance policies have contributed to higher female employment rates. However, it is also important to address the social norms that entrenches the division of labour within the family, perpetuating the stereotype of the male as the breadwinner and the female as responsible for (unpaid) care. Policies that encourage fathers also to care for their children through parental leave entitlements can be an effective means of addressing these social norms and thereby ensure that women's double workload as carer/mother and professional is evenly shared with her male partner.(http://oecd.org/dev/poverty/OECD%20DEV%20(2013)%20-%20SIGI%20and%20Maternity%20Leave.pdf

    Toro Olatidoye

    18 Jan 2014 15:58

    Canada lacks a national child care system, and this situation usually presents a costly dilemma for the country. Well, according to efforts like the campaign Rethink- a passionate group of Canadian unions and child care advocates- there are several costs such as:

    1. For many families, child care is the second highest expense after housing. Specifically in Ontario, families can pay between $40 and $60 a day for care. This is just one example because in bigger cities the cost is way higher.
    2. In most of Canada, child care subsidies are hard to come by or are designed so that even low income parents have to cover high out-of –pockets costs. In a city like Toronto for example, more than 22 000 eligible families are on the subsidy waiting list on any given day. Many of these families will never reach the top of the list.
    3. Specifically for women, according to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), 70 per cent of Canadian mothers are in the paid work force. It is really sad that the federal government has not stirred up initiatives to really work with provinces to create what the CLC has been suggesting- “a pan-Canadian early childhood education and care system that is non-profit, high quality, accessible, inclusive and affordable and provides compensation to Québec for the system it is already providing”, especially when studies show it is just smart and fiscally responsible to do so.

    The province of Quebec’s universal seven dollar a day child care program more that pays for itself, it is an exceptional program that increased workforce participation of mothers and boosted the province’s gross domestic product by 1.7 per cent. An article by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) explains that “providing universal, quality and accessible public child care, Canadian governments can save money from the higher tax revenues and lower spending primarily associated with increased workforce participation of mothers. Employment figures for Quebec show an increase of as much as nine per cent in the number of mothers of who found employment in the years following the 1997 introduction of Quebec’s publicly funded child care program, a rate of increase far greater than in the rest of Canada for the same period”.

    The article further explains that “the employment benefits of public child care are particularly compelling for those with lower levels of education and for single parents, where the social benefits of increased employment and incomes are significant. More specifically, the median after tax income of single mother families in Quebec shot up by 81 per cent. The relative poverty rate of single mothers dropped by 39 per cent and the number of single mothers on welfare declined by more than 50 per cent. These positive fiscal results compare to a $1.6 billion net cost for Quebec’s child care program for the study year, after accounting for lower tax credit”.

    It is truly time to rethink child care!

    For more info check out

     http://rethinkchildcare.ca/learn/

    and

    Statement by the Canadian Labour Congress to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women

    http://www.canadianlabour.ca/sites/default/files/swc-economicprospectscdngirls-2012-03-12-en.pdf

    Jader Oliveira

    18 Jan 2014 02:42

    On the other hand, in Brazil, we have specific policies for women, such as credit limits for the production of food from their organizations (PRONAF-woman) http://portal.mda.gov.br/portal/tvmda/videos-view?video_id=12303712). Agricultural marketing women have special treatment in the shares of the Food Acquisition Program. The National Plan of Policies for Women was built with the women's movement and has goals for gender equality and economic empowerment. Progress was made in granting titles to the land on behalf of women and process in the issuance of the Statement of Fitness for Pronaf, essential for access to government subsidies. The Thousand Women Program empowers women to professions seen as masculine, such as construction, drivers, electricians, painters and others. Other program “Woman Living Without Violence” plans to build 27 Woman´s Brazilian Houses, public facilities to accommodate specific to women victims of violence spaces as well as their children, momentarily. From the house, the woman will be forwarded to the justice and opportunities in the labor market that reduce the financial dependence of the aggressor. But we still need to converge these policies, both those that allocate grants with funds from the income tax to finance policies for children's rights as policies that channel resources to public investment aimed at combating violence against women. There is still a long way to go. Around R$ 260 million (US$ 130 million ) will be invested in fighting violence against women, in Brazil, in 2014-2015 (http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2011-2014/2013/Decreto/D8086.htm).

    Megan Bird

    17 Jan 2014 05:09

    They US does not provide tax-deductible or government subsidized child care. It is up to that family to be able to be able to afford this need. I have known many women of different socio-economic status that have actually quit their job to be the child-care provider to their children themselves. In those cases, the amount they made at their respective jobs would have all gone to pay for child care. In homes that absolutely have to have two income providers this puts families in an extremely tough spot until their children are school age.

    It would be worthwhile if the USA could off tax incentives at least for parents. It would not only help the workforce, but would also help increase economic opportunities and ease the burden on these families.

    Jader Oliveira

    16 Jan 2014 13:42

    In Brazil , the income tax law allows taxpayers to deduct the value of the contributions made to collect funds for the defense of the rights of children and adolescents (https://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/leis/ l9250.htm). These funds are administered with the participation of civil society, through councils of children's rights. Resources are invested in projects that are in convergence with the Statute of Children and Adolescents, which are to promote and defend the rights of this population (https://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/ leis/l8069.htm). Can be applied in sports activities to which children and adolescents engaged while their mothers work. Centers or computer equipment or support to health, education, culture and other public policies that already have their own sources of funds by way of complementary activities. The major obstacle to the advancement of the use of legislation to this purpose is the lack of structure of councils to promote such projects. Some bigs companies also have trouble understanding the legislation and do not feel safe legally to contribute to the funds raised. There is also a lack of accountability for the results achieved with the application of the resources earmarked for these projects. There are no public funds to be applied this way -- in 2012 , of R$ 316 million in the budget public ( US$ 160 million ) for, only 4.8 % were used in that direction - and that could greatly contribute to the creation of public facilities, such as childcare, schools, computer centers lacking investments in training, in clear norms to guide accountability for the transparency of applications, among other initiatives the administrative and management.

    Jelena Bošnjak

    16 Jan 2014 10:52

    The role of government subsidized childcare in undeveloped countries, more precisely in countries where one-salary families are not fiscally possible, is essential. 

    Croatia, much like most of the Balkans, is in terms of economy in a place where both working parents are essential for meeting minimal life-standard requirements for a lets say 2.4 family. 

    The obstacles to implementation to any pro-family life law is the lack of funds. 

    At this point it feels like it's only the tradition of promoting the role of a parent that keeps any relevant incentives in place. 

    Childcare units lack space and funds, it is almost impossible to get a child join the program before the age of 2, between the office hours put in and commute time it is almost impossible to leave and pick up the child from the daycare within 10 hours... 

    Croatia is a mish mash of new capitalism and old Because the boss said so habits. 

    Scherry Siganporia

    16 Jan 2014 07:22

    Incentives to work need to specifically look at requirements, needs and facilities which exist for rural and urban women. A whole range of services which encourage women's participation such as primary and secondary education, technical skill building, capacity enhancement, leadership development are all part of these services which qualifies women for the job market. However, additional and complimentary services which I believe is the responsibility of both private and public sector employers have to be provided as well - such as affordable child care facilities, creches, appropriate paternity and maternity leaves (abiding by the laws of the land), proper safety measures for both men and women, sexual harassment laws and committees which ensure speedy and due justice are all measures which encourage an enabling environment. In India, the recently passed Sexual harassment law for women at the workplace (includes informal labor) which lays out mechanisms for reporting and due justice process has been made mandatory. Women's employment should provide a sense of well-being, safety and security. This would also include workplace conditions, proper sanitation facilities - includes separate toilets for men and women (often lacking in the informal sector), availability of safe, reasonable and efficient public transportation is also important. Basic facilities for women are often not even thought of by most private / public sector undertakings.

    What is also important is the kind of work that is offered to men and women. Often women are encouraged to join in administrative positions or positions which require ''the  gender stereotype'' to fit in - for eg: women as receptionists at different offices, hospitals, airlines, hotels etc.

    What is absolutely essential and primary is Equal pay for Equal Work. Often women are paid lesser, they are considered as 'cheaper labor'. There are definitely disincentives. Another disincentive is the stereotyping of jobs, such as technical, engineering, software skills etc are considered more appropriate and suited for men. These are socially constructed barriers which discourage women to be a part of the larger working world. Often the voices of women are not even considered or heard as there is no opportunity or platform for them to raise their issues. Trade unions etc are mostly men dominated with one or two seats offered to women. However active participation of women too needs to be encouraged, thought through and promoted.

    Having said this, women form an important part of the economy. Many of their 'expected' roles which looks at child care, home based care, caring for the family (includes domestic work) is often under valued or not given any importance / acknowledgement. Most (at least 70%) of women are engaged in farming, looking after cattle, caring and tending to children and elders in the family. They are often the invisible hands that supports the larger agrarian economy. Our indicators and ways of measuring outputs needs to change. We cannot only look at products or services being produced by a farm / factory / industry etc but also take into account all factors which have contributed to that profit / success.

    A country should ensure that differentiated needs of men and women are taken into account. Suitable laws to ensure enabling environments in the existing economy and markets should be in place. In India currently, the Women's Reservation Bill (where it will be mandatory for women to occupy at least 33% seats) in parliament is yet to be passed. This process has taken 17 long years!! The bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha (Upper house) but is yet to be tabled in the lower house (Lok Sabha). These delays (17 years!!) does show that sometimes, governments are not responsive and have much to answer to the women of the country. Addressing Patriarchal norms and deep rooted insecurities which persist within our communities and region is something that globally and internationally we need to work on together. The battle is not between the sexes. It is more between the systems and the mindsets - both created by men and women jointly. Would be interesting to see, hear and look at the splendid example of Iceland, Norway and Finland as gender friendly countries (or more women friendly I should say!) as to the approaches they have taken for women's participation and empowerment. 

    Liliana Rpdriguez-Retamoso

    15 Jan 2014 18:19

    Cheap labour that allows childcare is an implicit subsidy that privileged women enjoy in Colombia. Should the Colombian government consider to grant a subsidy to households to make a better payment to nannies and cleaners? Should Colombia include the work of housewives in the National Gross Product calculations?

    Liliana Rpdriguez-Retamoso

    15 Jan 2014 18:12

    Colombia prides itself to be a country where women have advanced very much and held premier positions. I will criticize this, and probably many Colombians will not like what I will say. I think that some women are advancing in Colombia due to the discrimination of other women. It is easy to find cheap labour as nannies and cleaners. It is an implicit subsidy to the ones in the top. Colombian women from the highest social levels from the times of colony are used to find cheap labour to take care of their children. At the colonial times, the Spanish introduced slaves and servants. It did not changed very much with independance. The children of Spanish took over and kept everything more or less like that. From those times, to take care of children or do housework is regarded by Colombian society as an inferior task. The work of a nanny or a cleaner should be more valued.  Colombia needs that more poor women manage to climb the ladder and be able to study and to get decent positions in life. The country cannot pride itself of getting better positions only for a few women that were able to access education and to get access to some "privileged" connections.

    siobhan austen

    15 Jan 2014 09:09

    I believe this discussion must be extended to other informal care roles, such as eldercare. In countries with ageing populations, these care roles are becoming increasingly important. They are very important to the paid employment experiences of 'older' women.

     We are currently finding some interesting patterns between eldercare and employment - based on the experiences of mature age (45+) Australian women. For women living in relatively good economic circumstances, eldercare seems to have the expected, negative impacts on paid employment (that is, paid employment rates are lower for women with eldercare roles). However, for women living in circumstances that are "strained", the opposite pattern emerges: that is, paid employment rates are higher for women with eldercare roles. My assessment is that for women with few economic resources the costs associated with eldercare increase the importance of being in paid work. I think this raises the importance of ensuring good public provision of respite care and residential and community aged care, in addition to mandated leave entitlements for care responsibilities

    Prasida Khanal

    15 Jan 2014 07:22

            The Government of Nepal has committed to reserve 33 percent of all positions for women. Conversely, less than 1 percent of the high level decision-making positions are occupied by them. At present, the legislation mandates all employment vacancies to mention ‘women are strongly encouraged to apply’. However, only limited female candidates are eligible to apply as they lack required expertise and experience. Similarly, discrimination in pay is a widely prevalent issue, both in agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. On the other hand, recruiting unqualified individuals in the name of securing participation could compromise the work efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. This would make women’s participation a liability rather than a necessity.

             Amidst the political gridlock, Nepal needs an evidence-based legislation to mandate primary education for girls. I strongly believe that free education in government schools, provision of necessary books, free meals, accessible female toilets, and free supply of female hygiene products will undoubtedly assist the government to recruit and retain the Nepalese girls in schools. The lack of education limits their opportunities for holding jobs and for economic enrichment. A direct consequence of being deprived of education is the lack of knowledge about their rights and their diminished voice to demand for it. Eventually, the vicious cycle of ignorance and oppression continues. Therefore, the national planning commission needs to conceptualize “free or subsidized child care centers” in all the major government offices. Nevertheless, legislators must draft strong policies against workplace harassment and strengthen the provision of facilities such as maternity leave to reduce the barriers prohibiting women’s economic empowerment.

     

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