How the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians Impacted the Quality and Use of Gender Data in Policymaking
In 2013, an international definition of “work” was agreed upon for the first time as a reference concept to support measurement. Importantly for gender equality, the definition recognizes all paid and unpaid forms of work on an equal footing. This was a critical step towards making all the work that women typically do in the home, workplaces, and community clearly visible in statistics.
These changes—based on a resolution adopted by the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians in 2013—were significant for other reasons, too. They affected how employment is measured by governments, narrowing the scope to only those activities done in expectation of payment or making a profit.
The new International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) standards on work have had significant impact in the four case study countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Rwanda). The trends are similar across all countries, except for in Myanmar where there was no real change in the size and structure of the labor force when the 19th ICLS
standards were introduced.
For the other countries, common trends include the shrinking of the labor force, more so for women than men, revealing the existence of gender gaps that were previously hidden in the statistics.
In Côte d’Ivoire, labor force participation of men barely changed between 2012 (72 percent) and 2016 (71 percent), but women’s fell significantly from 63 percent to 50 percent. In Rwanda, labor force participation rates had been the same for women (84 percent) and men (83 percent) prior to the 19th ICLS standards, but fell significantly under the new definitions, especially for women, revealing an almost 20 percentage point gap in participation that was not visible before.
In Lao PDR, the changes were similar to those seen in Rwanda, with men and women having similar participation rates prior to the 19th ICLS standards and then showing a large drop in participation under the new measures.