Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

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The share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector is an indicator of Millennium Development Goal 3, to promote gender equality and empower women.  This is defined by the United Nations as the "percentage of employees in non-agricultural wage employment who are women".[1]  The non-agricultural sector includes industry and services, and wage employment being defined as remuneration by hours worked or items produced, independent of profits or expectations of profits.[2]


This indicator measures the degree to which labor markets are open to women in the industry and service sectors.  This is important as it measures the equality of employment opportunity of women.[2]

Gender Issues

There are large differences between women and men in non-agricultural employment, in particular in developing countries. This is the result of differences between rates of participation in employment for women and men as well as the kind of employment in which they participate. In many regions, women are more likely than men to be engaged in informal sector activities and subsistence or unpaid work in the household.

Wage employment in most of Africa and much of Asia and the Pacific is a middle-class, urban phenomenon. Outside of urban areas, most employment is agricultural, often for family subsistence. However, where non-agricultural employment is available, it is more likely to go to male members of the household.

As economies develop, the share of women in non-agricultural wage employment becomes increasingly important. A higher share in paid employment could secure for them better income, economic security and well-being. However, this shift is not automatic, nor does it account for differentials in working conditions between men and women. Other variables need to be considered, such as level of education, level of remuneration and wage differentials and the extent to which women and men benefit from labor legislation and social programs. Men more often hold regular and better remunerated jobs, whereas women are frequently in peripheral, insecure, less valued jobs, as home workers, casual workers or part-time or temporary workers.[2]

Statistical Data


  1. United Nations. (2010). The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010: Statistical Annex. New York: The United Nations.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The World Bank Group. (2004). Millennium Development Goals: 11. Retrieved July 3, 2010, from Global Data Monitoring Information System:

See Also

Millennium Development Goals

GID Variables: Economic status of women

Women and Agriculture

Who feeds the World in 2010 and Beyond: Rural women as Agents of Change and Champions of Global Food Security

Article Information
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