Christine Lagarde said the International Monetary Fund will push countries to publish more data on female participation in the labour market in an effort to draw attention to policies that could boost growth from Italy to Egypt.
The IMF managing director said that getting more women to join the labour force is a topic she raises in every meeting with government officials.
Some countries do not provide statistics on the number of women accessing the labour market or working part time and the fund can use its yearly appraisal of countries’ economies to weigh in, she said.
“We will actually encourage countries to report on gender issues,” Lagarde said, but added that the fund cannot make it compulsory.
“Focusing on the other half of humanity does not hurt growth and economic development, quite to the contrary,'' she stated.
The global female labour force participation has stalled around 50% for two decades, reflecting a lack of progress toward gender equality in markets also characterised by lower wages and limited access to senior positions for women, according to a report by the fund’s staff released today.
The report shows that in the US, where about 60% of the increase in employment for women from 2009 to 2012 was in jobs that pay less than $10.10 an hour, compared with 20% for men, according to a study by the National Women’s Law Center using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Getting more women to participate in the workforce would boost growth in both developed and developing economies, according to the fund, at a time when world expansion remains sluggish amid a slowdown in emerging markets.
The report lists measures that range from tax credits for low-wage earners to better access to affordable child care for countries to adopt.
While the IMF’s influence is strongest in countries it lends to, Lagarde said it will not systematically attach gender measures to the money.
“If and where we see inappropriate principles or discriminatory issues, we can always raise those as part of our discussions with policy makers in the context of programs, but I would not say that it’s one of the lead key items,” she said.