“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”

-Shirley Chisholm

It is not always easy to feel comfortable in a new labor environment. But what if, not only we have to balance our work life, but also our families, upcoming responsibilities and highly competitive labor markets? It gets tougher.

As an outcome of the persistence of gender imbalances, women tend to work in less economically productive sectors with lower opportunities to rise in a job career. This often comes by irregularities in country laws. The World Development Report uses a working couple from Bangladesh to state an example. Considering they have the desire to start a family, Bangladesh’s laws do not contemplate parental leave and neither to nursing breaks or flexible part-time schedules, so it represents uncertainty for a mother to come back to the same job position after giving birth (WDR, 2018).

So how does this affect to the female participation rate in different countries?

To illustrate this, we will use a World Bank map representing the ratio of female to male labor force participation rates (%) for 2015. This represents, from the total female labor force population rate according to the male corresponding rate.

(In non-complicated words, for every men working are x number of women in labor market, let's say... for every 1 men working in Italy there are approximately 50 to 60% of women inside the labor force).


According to the data, female labor force participation tends to be higher in some of the poorest and richest countries in the world. For 2017, Mozambique records the highest female participation with 54.8% of the total labor force, next to Burundi 52.4%, Nepal 51.8% and Rwanda 51.5%. On the other side, the lowest female labor force participation is given by Yemen with 7.9% of the total labor force next to United Arab Emirates with 12.4% and Qatar with 14.1% (WB, 2017).

So, in most mathematical words, the relationship between female participation rates and GDP per capita follows a U-shape (Tyson, 2017).

In this matter, a powerful tool could be considered removing legal restrictions for women and having more flexibility regarding parental planning at households. If women face with high numbers of legal restrictions than working payoffs will be lower.  For instance, by requiring non-discrimination clauses in hiring it already increased women’s employment in formal firms by 8.6% (WDR, 2018). Consequently, households with women merged in labor market improved their food security, economic stability and education opportunities for heir’s and future generations.

In conclusion, we are in the right track to improve and build a labor environment where gender equality it’s the priority and legal protection could embrace either female as male workers.



  • Tyson, L. D. (2017, January 17). World Economic Forum. Retrieved from

  • WB, W. B. (2017). World Bank Data. Retrieved from

  • WDR, W. B. (2018). World Development Report. Retrieved from World Bank Group: