Official producers of statistics recognize the need to measure all forms of work, as evidenced by the latest statistical standards adopted by the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians and organized by the International Labour Organization in 2013. The new standards introduce a comprehensive framework to measure work and employment, recognizing all productive activities, paid and unpaid, as work.

Why it matters

The new framework has significant implications for measuring women and girls’ participation in all forms of work, paid and unpaid, and for assessing differences in their access to full and productive employment.

Particularly relevant for recognizing women and girls’ work is the concept of own-use production, which includes goods and services for the household or family. Full and separate measurement of participation in these unpaid productive activities will pave the way for a more complete assessment of women’s contribution to the economy and to household livelihoods and well-being. It should also provide more comprehensive measurement of subsistence activities, including in agriculture and fishing, which remain poorly accounted for in official statistics.

Reaching the ultimate goal of having better data to monitor the economic participation of women and girls will not, however, happen overnight and without sustained efforts by all stakeholders. A coordinated strategy, bringing together producers, users, regional and international agencies, and development partners, is required to promote the implementation of the new standards as part of ensuring the comparability and sustainability of national strategies for statistical development.

Partnering with Data2X

The International Labour Organization, the World Bank, and the Food and Agriculture Organization are partnering with Data2X to help implement the new definitions of work and employment at the national level, with a gender lens and a focus on the policy implications for women’s work and employment.

Options for collaboration include providing technical assistance to countries; better harmonizing data collection activities and mobilizing resources for pilot country studies; finding ways to increase the value and use of the existing data collected; and continuing to advocate for the importance of sex-disaggregated data in the world of work.

The Women’s Work & Employment partnership supports inter-agency collaboration, methodological work and a series of pilot country studies to operationalize the 19 ICLS definitions across several labor and agricultural surveys, with a specific focus on improving how men’s and women’s work in subsistence agriculture is measured. A summary of findings from the first phase of work (December 2014-2016) can be found in this Technical Summary.