Reducing Vulnerable Employment: Is there a Role for Reproductive Health, Social Protection, and Labor Market Policy?

Sarah Gammage, Naziha Sultana & Allison Glinski

Reproductive health and employment are inextricably linked for women. Across the globe, women are the primary caretakers of children, and a woman’s reproductive years tend to overlap with her economically productive years. Planned and unplanned pregnancy and childbearing affect women’s ability to pursue different types of economic opportunities and even the choice of sectors in which they seek to work. This study explores the timing and sequencing of policy to address reproductive health needs and to strengthen labor market institutions and social protection, illustrated by case studies from six developing countries – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, South Africa, the Philippines, and Vietnam – which have similar demographic transitions but divergent labor market outcomes for women. The findings suggest that where fertility transitions have been sharpest, this has not automatically translated into more employment and better labor market outcomes for women – illuminating a critical role for policy to support women’s transition into formal employment.

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