Positively, since 2000, female labour force participation – the percentage of working age women who are actively engaged in the labour market – has, in most Commonwealth countries, steadily increased.

Women’s proportion of employment is generally lower then men’s and is a critical issue as labour force participation is a driver of growth, and in turn participation rates indicate a country’s potential to grow more rapidly. Similarly, female participation in the economy can help cushion the negative effects of economic shocks that impact households.

As the graph illustrates, there remain large differences in female labour participation across all regions reflecting the disparities in employment opportunities and unemployment, and the need for active labour market policies to engage and reduce barriers to employment for women.