Is it easy for an Uzbek woman to make a career?
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- To date, ensuring the employment of women, gender equality, the elimination of discrimination in the labor market and the achievement of equality in wages is one of the urgent problems around the world. The pandemic has had a very negative impact on women’s employment in general. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2019-2020, employment among women decreased by 4.2 percent, with 54 million jobs lost. This means that in 2020 there are 13 million fewer working women than in 2019.
According to ILO estimates, in 2022, the participation rate of the population of working age in the labor market was 60%, among men this figure is 71.9%, among women - 46.6%. Overall, women are 1.5% less active than men.
Gender equality has become part of the priority of the new Uzbekistan. This is evidenced by the relevant resolutions adopted by the state and the organization of various events aimed at expanding the rights and opportunities of women, increasing their role in all processes of public administration and society as a whole. It is about restoring a special status and respect for women. These principles have become the basis of the implemented state policy in the field of gender equality. An example of this can be the Strategy for achieving gender equality in Uzbekistan until 2030, the Law on Guarantees of Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men, and the ILO Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has been ratified. For girls in higher educational institutions, quotas have been increased, disembodied education is provided at the magistracy, various benefits are provided for starting their own business.
Nevertheless, in Uzbekistan, as well as throughout the world, the economic activity of women is lower than that of men. At the end of 2021, this indicator was among women - 41.3% and men - 56.9%. The economic activity of Uzbek women in the labor market begins at the age of 30. The reason is that the average marriage age is 22.3 years after at least 2 years of maternity leave. Then the women go to work, after a short time they go on repeated maternity leave. Thus, already at almost the age of 30, women consciously begin to engage in career growth. Frequent maternity leave and sick leave, due to the state of health of children, reduce the attractiveness of women among employers as a potential employee. The advantages of men as a potential employee are that they do not go on maternity leave (even if they have the legal right to take maternity leave), they can stay late at work, and there are no barriers when sending them on business trips to other regions.
Occupational gender segregation is one of the main causes of the pay gap in Uzbekistan. According to the State Statistics Committee, working women earn, on average, about 39% less than men. World Bank experts believe that, at a minimum, this is due to the prevailing stereotypes in society and discriminatory norms that divide professions into “male” and “female” in Uzbekistan.
The low economic activity of Uzbek women is primarily due to the fact that they are fully employed and are responsible for housekeeping and childcare. In Uzbekistan, women are unpaid workers, resulting in a double burden on women. Uzbek women spend 22% of their time doing housework and childcare, which is unpaid. Men, on the other hand, spend 9% of their time on household chores. The heavy burden of housework hinders career development for Uzbek women. It should be noted that in the traditions of Uzbekistan it is considered that the main task of a woman is to take care of the house and children. According to an ILO study, 80% of the population of Uzbekistan prefers that the man in the family earns money, and the woman takes care of household chores and children. 93% of the country’s population believes that a woman should do most household chores, even if her husband is not working. All of the above indicates gender inequality both in society and in the country’s labor market.
Women in Uzbekistan are more likely to work in the public sector, which tends to offer more stable jobs and favorable conditions. The sectoral structure of female employment is characterized by the fact that women mainly work in areas with low wages and shorter working hours. These are such sectors as education, healthcare and, in general, the social sphere. This is the reason for the gap between the wages of men and women.
Over 5 years, women in Uzbekistan have not changed their plans regarding employment. It is in the sectors of the social sphere that the lowest wages are observed. At the same time, it is mostly men who work in highly paid areas (IT-sphere and financial sector). It is noteworthy that over the analyzed period, the share of employed women in the IT sector increased by 3%.
There is a positive trend in the sectoral structure of women’s employment, in particular, a decrease in the share of people employed in areas of heavy physical labor, such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
The presence of higher education enables women to apply for higher-paid jobs. In 2020, among the population of the republic aged 25 years and over, the proportion of women with higher education was 13.2%, and men - 20%. Consequently, men are more likely to be employed in high-paying jobs.
In 2021, unemployment among women was 13.3% (for comparison - 6.1% in the world), which is twice as high as among men. The unemployed women are mainly: those with secondary specialized (65.8%), secondary education (28.5%) and higher education (3.4%). More than 44% of unemployed women are aged 15-30. The highest rates of unemployment among women are observed in Kashkadarya (15.5%), Surkhandarya (15.0%) and Syrdarya (14.7%) regions. Many women decide to stay at home in connection with the upbringing of children, therefore they lose their professional skills. Unfortunately, in 2021, the number of children aged 3-6 covered by preschool education was 62%, and children aged 1-6 do not even reach 30%. That is, in fact, approximately 40-70% of children are brought up at home by their mothers.
To identify the main problems on the path of career growth among Uzbek women, IPMI experts conducted a survey among working women. The survey involved 300 women (N=300) from various fields of activity. The survey was conducted in October this year. The age of the respondents is from 16 to 65 years. The average age of the respondents is 36 years. The survey included women with higher education (68%), with an academic degree (13.6%), with secondary specialized education (20.6%) and general education (7%). 65.8% of respondents have 2 or more children, 25% of them are single or divorced.
The survey results showed that:
- almost 88% of women believe that they should work;
- 68.4% of respondents believe that it is much more difficult for women to build a career than for men;
- husbands fully allow 52.2% of women to work;
- the main obstacle in building a career, women consider: 38.6% - husbands do not allow to work, 34.9% - the perception of women by society as housewives, 27.9% - household chores are the responsibility of a woman and it is very difficult to combine them with career growth, 17.3% noted the absence of obstacles;
- women spend an average of 4 hours a day on household chores, while the average time spent by men on household chores does not even reach one hour (according to the women surveyed);
- the average age of female managers in the companies where the respondents work was 38.6 years;
- in 3.5% of companies (legal institutions) there are no women in managerial positions;
- 46.5% of women believe that managerial abilities help them to take leadership positions, 40% - only hard work can achieve a leadership position, and 15.2% - it is enough to have good connections;
- about 40% of women believe that men are preferred when appointed to senior positions, in particular in such professions as economists, lawyers, financiers and accountants;
- almost 55% of women believe that when appointed to leadership positions, gender does not matter or it does not matter;
- 26.2% of women who do not have children or with one child believe that having children is not an obstacle to career growth, but 58.5% - consider the decision to have a child temporarily limits their chances for a successful career;
- 62.4% of women pick up their children from school and kindergartens themselves, which leads to earlier departure from work, i.e. this is also one of the barriers in building a career;
- 26.3% of married women answered that their husbands normally look when they are late at work, 25.9% - that the spouse reacts negatively to the delay from work;
- 44% of women noted that their husbands forbid them to go on business trips, 38% - that their husbands let them go on business trips without any problems;
- 45.7% of women are ambitious and plan to reach high positions, the average age of which is 36 years, of which 90% have higher education or a degree. At the same time, 28% of women do not want to hold leadership positions;
- 71.3% of women noted that they spend the money they earn on general family expenses.
Thus, the survey led to the following conclusions:
1.88% of women think they should work.
2. Women themselves believe that it is much more difficult for them to build a career than for men.
3. When building a career for women, one of the main obstacles is the public opinion that a woman should be a housewife and the prohibition of husbands to work.
4. Every day, women spend at least 4 hours on household chores, which is unpaid work. At the same time, men spend only about one hour a day (according to the women surveyed).
5. The average age of female leaders is 38 years.
6. According to the interviewed women, men are mainly placed in leadership positions.
IPMI experts also assessed the probability of women’s participation in the labor market (working and not working) using econometric models based on a survey conducted in Fergana region in April of this year. The database includes only information about women aged 16 to 65 years. The probit statistical model was used for these calculations.
The results of the econometric analysis revealed that the likelihood of women to work or not to work is primarily influenced by their marital status. Further - the well-being of her family, the level of education, partly the age of a woman, also affects her economic activity. Such factors as living in a city or in a village, state of health, presence of children turned out to be statistically insignificant (there are many women in the database whose children have already reached the age of 16).
From the analysis carried out, it can be concluded that over the past 5 years, many obstacles and barriers to women’s career growth, as well as their participation in the labor market, have significantly decreased. The key factor in this process was the adopted resolutions of the Government on the achievement of gender equality in society and the economy. However, it is much more difficult for Uzbek women to achieve career success than for men.
The results of the survey confirmed (70% of women) that there is an opinion among men that a woman should deal exclusively with household chores and children. This fact is confirmed by the results of the econometric model, in particular, the probability of a woman to work or not to work is primarily influenced by their marital status.
A study by IPMI experts revealed that with a work schedule of 7-8 hours, women spend an additional 4 hours on average every day on household chores that are not paid. Thus, in general, the average Uzbek woman actually works 12 hours a day.
head of the IPMI group