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Reflections on the use of labour market indicators in designing policies with a gender-based approach

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Reflections on the use of labour market indicators in designing policies with a gender-based approach

Autor institucional: NU. CEPAL. Unidad Mujer y Desarrollo Physical Description: 69 páginas. Editorial: ECLAC Date: June 1998 ECLAC symbol: LC/L.1016


The profound transformations undergone by the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean in recent decades have combined with a massive increase in the number of economically active women to produce significant changes in the labour market. Nonetheless, the indicators used to measure and describe this market have remained unchanged, despite the fact, which it is important to bear in mind, that they were designed for circumstances distinct from today's, with different participants and requirements in policy terms.
Although the importance of measuring the share in economic activity accounted for by male and female workers has been reiterated in international conferences and studies, we have still not reached the point where existing statistics are broken down systematically by sex, or where the gender aspect is incorporated into basic indicators. These failings become more serious when we consider the imbalance that exists between the way men and women participate in the labour market. It is difficult to design policies and strategies to improve the working situation of vulnerable groups if the basic information needed to produce timely and reliable diagnoses is not forthcoming. Again, there is a lack of awareness about the limitations of the most commonly used labour indicators as tools for measuring the economic activity of the female workforce.
The limitations referred to have at least two significant implications for public policy-making. The first of these is related to the cost represented by the loss of economic and social efficiency that results from resources being allocated inefficiently. The second is linked to the problem of equity, which results from failure to recognize the real role of women, a failure that in turn reflects the lack of indicators capable of providing a comprehensive picture either of the contribution women make or of the benefits they receive in exchange for this.
The main objective of this document is to look at the indicators that now exist and are published in the region, and that serve as a basis for designing policies and programmes aimed at improving the lot of vulnerable groups. Their limitations as a tool for measuring the labour market participation of men and women are pointed out, with particular emphasis being laid on their shortcomings as regards the activity of women. Proposals are put forward for indicators better able to measure women's activity in the labour market and to serve as inputs for policies and programmes. The document is intended for users who, without being experts in the labour market, need to analyse labour market variables and design policies to improve access to this market for men and women. It is hoped that this document will thus help ensure that diagnostic studies are carried out with greater awareness of the limitations of the indicators being used, especially in the case of comparative analyses, be these between men and women, between rural areas and urban ones, between regions, or between countries.