Youth employment, whether of young men or women, is a growing cause of concern for policy-makers and planners around the world. However, young women's unemployment and underemployment rates are even higher than those of young men in many countries. When jobs are scarce, young women are more likely than young men to drop out of the labour force rather than report being unemployed, or to take up part-time work when full-time work is not available.
The paths to obtaining decent work for young women are often inferior to those for young men. In most developed countries, a typical young woman in her early twenties would be able to choose between further education, training or employment, although there might be some gender-based limitations on her choices and on their outcomes. Her counterpart in many developing countries may already be married, with one or more children, she may be illiterate or may have left school many years before, and she may be desperately looking for whatever work she can find so that she and her children can survive. Access to training and the formal labour market is often barred by tradition or restricted by discrimination based on sex.
While the situation varies a great deal from country to country, some obstacles to securing decent work are common to all young women. They often fail to take advantage of training opportunities because of entry barriers, discrimination in the selection process and gender stereotyping. Stereotyping is particularly found in vocational guidance and counselling on the part of school staff or employment services. Young women are rather encouraged to train in household-related or care work, while young men are urged to go for high-skilled and modern technology-based training and employment. As a result, most young women end up in relatively low-skilled and poorly paid occupations with little prospect of upward mobility.
Policy-makers and planners should tackle the specific obstacles faced by young women by:
→ see also Education, Employment policy and promotion, Occupational segregation, Vocational guidance and Vocational training
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