Addressing context-specific barriers to women's participation in decent work

With funding from Co-Impact, PEP is supporting a two-year research initiative to examine context-specific barriers to decent work for women, and identify pathways to removing these barriers, in six countries: Kenya, Senegal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Peru.

Local evidence to increase decent work for women

Teams of experienced local researchers and government representatives will carry out gender-sensitive policy analyses of the labor market in each country.

By involving and responding to the needs of national policy stakeholders, the evidence that this initiative will generate should help reduce labor market gender inequality in the six target countries. 

Woman pulling a plant from a rice paddy in India

The teams will take a mixed-methods approach to describe and analyze context-specific barriers to women’s access to decent work, focusing on legal barriers and social norms. PEP will provide support to the project teams to enhance the researchers’ scientific and policy outreach skills and increase the impact of their projects.

There will also be a cross-country study conducted by PEP experts that aims to feed into broader efforts to improve women’s labor market participation and the quality of their opportunities for work.

This is the first initiative headed by a PEP Research Fellow with gender analysis expert Nisha Arunatilake taking the lead.

“As well as pinpointing the social, economic, and legal context-specific barriers in each country, the analysis will quantify their impact on female labor force participation in decent work so as to identify which are the most urgent for policymakers to address.”

Dr. Nisha Arunatilake

Addressing an urgent need

Women having access to and participating in decent work is essential for promoting gender equality. Despite multiple initiatives to increase women’s labor force participation, the gap between men’s and women’s rates remains high. 

Further, women tend to be in jobs that pay less, are less likely to be covered by social protection, and are less secure than those of men. In many low-income countries, context-specific barriers can make the costs of participating in the labor market higher for women and the benefits lower. 

Improving women’s labor force participation is vital for development and growth. Yet the drivers of the gender gap are not adequately understood, handicapping policy responses.

"We are seeing increased urgency among policymakers to deliver quality jobs along with social protection and respect for rights at work, for women and men alike, to achieve a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. But basing policies on evidence that does not reflect the variety of experiences within a population is bound to exacerbate inequalities, even if the policies are not explicitly 'gendered'. "

Prof. Jane Mariara, PEP Executive Director

By examining the legal, social, and economic barriers to women’s participation in decent work, PEP believes this initiative will generate concrete policy recommendations and allow the target countries to address these systemic barriers.


Country projects

Addressing context-specific barriers to female labor force participation in decent work in:

Brazil    Kenya    Peru    the Philippines   Senegal    Sri Lanka 

The initiative also comprises a   cross-country analysis



Summary research briefs

Policy briefs by country

Working papers by country

Kenya - 2024-05

Peru - 2024-01

Philippines - 2024-02

Senegal - 2024-04

Sri Lanka - 2024-03

News and blogs

  • New Research Brief: barriers blocking women's access to decent work
  • New Research Brief: factors for increasing women's access to decent work
  • National Policy Conference: Highlighting structural barriers to decent work for women in Sri Lanka
  • National Policy Conference: Advocating for expanded childcare services to improve women’s access to decent work in Peru
  • National Policy Conference: Calling for public daycare and formalisation to improve women’s access to decent work in Kenya
  • National Policy Conference: Promoting policies to change gender norms and improve women’s access to decent work in Brazil
  • Blog: Increasing Women’s Access to Decent Work: Precise Policy Action for Gender Equality


Supported by

Logo: Co-Impact


Logo global affairs canada
Logo Hewlett Foundation
Logo IDRC - CRDI Canada
Logo Mastercard Foundation
European Union
Fonds d'innovation pour le Développement
Global Education Analytics Institute