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UN: stereotypes still keep women out of key jobs

Despite new opportunities, stereotypes still keep women out of key jobs – Annan

Although globalization has raised women’s awareness of employment options and improved job opportunities – particularly in the service sector – lingering stereotypes and rigid gender roles can keep them from entering male-dominated sectors or accessing top managerial positions, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report.

Further efforts are needed to address the gender wage gap and gender segmentation of the labour market and to improve women’s job security, including in the largely female dominated service sector, Mr. Annan says in a report to the General Assembly on women in development.

The report focuses on the impact of globalization on women’s empowerment and employment, using examples from the service sector, which is estimated to be the largest and fastest-growing segment of the world economy and includes professions ranging from education and health services to professional and business services.

Mr. Annan also notes the impact on migrant women and trafficked women, who often find themselves trapped in sweatshops and types of exploitation that constitute contemporary forms of slavery. Many migrant women also work in health sector jobs such as nursing or physical therapy, following well-recognized gender stereotypical paths to what is perceived to be “acceptable economic activities for women.”

“The gender segmentation of the labour market creates an additional challenge for women in the economy,” Mr. Annan says, calling for policies that enable both men and women to take advantage of service sector opportunities, particularly in traditional areas such as information and communication technology and tourism.

He also says that national policies and practices needed to be reviewed to eliminate discrimination against migrant women employed in the service sector. “Increased attention should be given to gender-specific barriers to migration, recruitment practices, access to information, human rights protection and remittance procedures,” he adds.

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