Women’s participation in wage labour markets in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) lags far behind men’s participation. Wage labour markets are also highly segregated by gender, with women’s participation being particularly low in high-growth economic sectors such as finance, IT, and construction. Public and private sector organisations in LMICs have invested a significant amount of resources to increase women’s labour market participation, but it is not clear what programme approaches and design features are most effective.
This systematic review, conducted by the University of Johannesburg, aimed to synthesise the evidence on effectiveness of interventions aiming to support women’s wage labour participation in higher-growth/male-dominated sectors in LMICS.
The researchers produced an interactive evidence map setting out the availability of impact evaluations on labour market interventions in LMICs and then performed meta-analysis to synthesise evaluation findings. Finally, they identified design features that may influence the intervention effects using qualitative comparative analysis and narrative synthesis approaches.
The review found a small evidence base (19 studies, covering 20 interventions) which they assessed as being of low quality overall. Only the evidence on the effects of eight combined training and placement interventions was considered to be of moderate quality. The review of these studies found there is cautious evidence that combined training and job placement interventions are an effective intervention approach to increase women’s wage labour participation in higher-growth/male-dominated sectors in LMICs. Women taking part in training and placement programmes experienced a 7.8% greater increase in formal wage employment and a 7.2% greater increase in income, compared to a control group who were not receiving the intervention. For all other labour market interventions, the size and nature of the underlying primary research evidence base means it is not possible to state any conclusions or make recommendations.
The review also identified 7 intervention design features associated with programme effectiveness. These included gender-sensitive intervention designs such as women only programmes and provision of childcare facilities, and the inclusion of soft/life skills and social empowerment training. Attempts to identify the specific configurations of the seven design features and their correlation with programme effects was inconclusive
There is a protocol for this review
Langer L, Erasmus Y, Tannous N, Obuku E, Ravat Z, Chisoro C, Opondo M, Nduku P, Tripney J, van Rooyen C, Stewart R (2018) Women in wage labour: A systematic review of the effectiveness and design features of interventions supporting women’s participation in wage labour in higher-growth and/or male-dominated sectors in LMICs. Technical report. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, University College London.