Workforce Participation

Employment or job security is essential for a woman’s lifelong economic wellbeing.

While it is reported that Australian women are among the most educated in the world (more than half of university graduates are women), gaps remain when it comes to workforce participation.

Australia has a relatively low female workforce participation rate (ranked 14th of 34 OECD nations in 2010), and a continuing significant and unmoving gender pay gap.

As a member of the G20 Australia, has made a commitment to decrease the gap between the workforce participation rates[1] of men and women. However, this target can only be reached by addressing the embedded workplace and social structures that disadvantage women.

There is also a need to ensure that increased participation in paid work is based on the reality of women’s lives and that the financial outcomes ensure a resulting quality net worth to women throughout their lifecycles, rather than work for works sake.

Areas of consideration are, but not limited to;

  • Barriers to full and equitable workforce participation
  • Poverty and pervasive disadvantage across the lifecycle
  • Income disparity across feminised segregated sectors
  • Predominance of women in casualised/contract work and the superannuation implications
  • Superannuation and livable income in later life
  • Discriminatory compensation; base income, contractual benefits, bonuses, commissions
  • Precarious work vs Decent work
  • Unpredictable income vs Sustainable income
  • Child care
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Unpaid work
  • Underemployment

economic Security4Women maintains a focus on the significant contribution that participation in paid work makes to the lifelong economic well being of women

[1] The participation rate refers to the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for work. The number of people who are no longer actively searching for work would not be included in the participation rate. During an economic recession, many workers, especially women, often get discouraged and stop looking for employment; as a result, the participation rate decreases.

Decent work v.s. Formal employments. Informal employment

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) states that decent work ‘involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.’ ILO also defines informal employment as ‘all jobs characterized by an employment relationship that is not subject to national labour legislation, income taxation, social protection or entitlement to benefits such as paid leave’. Formal employment provides social protection and entitled benefits, which enables workers’ economic security in the labour market.


Women and girls into non-traditional occupations

Workplace gender equality


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Lifelong Economic Wellbeing for Women in Australia., 2020. All rights reserved.