Women as “underutilized assets”: A critical review of IMF advice on female labour force participation and fiscal consolidation

Deeply-embedded patriarchal norms mean that women have a dual role in the economy: productive and reproductive. This reality – and the failure of governments, businesses and institutions to recognise and address it – mean that women’s unpaid labour is too often exploited or unrecognised, even as it provides a massive subsidy to states and economies. This double burden on women impacts on the type of paid work women can engage in and results in them working longer days than men in nearly all countries.

This briefing focuses on the IMF’s recent advice aimed at increasing female labour force participation. It calls on the IMF to consider female labour force participation in the context of the work women are doing in total, and highlights that the IMF needs to urgently address the impact of their prescribed macroeconomic policies on women’s opportunities to access decent work, their disproportionate unpaid care burden and their ability to exercise choice over their economic contribution.

The briefing will be presented at the Civil Society Policy Forum at the 2017 World Bank Group / IMF 2017 Annual Meetings, in the session 'Contradicting Commitments: Why Fiscal Space Matters for Women and Work', 9:00 am – 10:30 am, Wednesday, 11 October 2017, in the IMF Headquarters Building 2, Washington D.C. (official programme).