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Education and Skills
Policy paper
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Closing the Gender Employment Gap to Help Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8: Better Skills Can Improve Access to Decent Work, but Gender Inequality is Holding Young Women Back

This policy brief summarises Young Lives research findings on skills and the gender employment gap across our four study countries, and presents key policy recommendations to better support women’s participation in paid employment and achieve gender equality.  

The brief highlights that:

■ Reducing the gender employment gap requires a broad approach to address the socio-economic constraints and gender norms that keep young women out of the workforce, alongside initiatives to increase adolescent girls’ skills and improve young women’s access to high-paid and high-status jobs.

■ Efforts to support women’s participation in paid employment should include challenging social norms that discriminate against girls and women, particularly in relation to relieving the burden of unpaid care work, increasing access to affordable childcare and reducing early marriage.

■ Targeted investment in promoting adolescent girls’ skills and supporting them to stay in education, including in higher education and vocational training, remain key goals. However, improving skills and educational outcomes may not translate into increased women’s participation in decent paid work without addressing country-specific barriers to gender equality

The evidence in this policy brief is drawn from a range of Young Lives publications over the last two decades, including our new report, ‘Does Human Capital Influence the Gender Gap in Earnings?’ (Perez-Alvarez, Porter, and Ramachandran 2023).