March 2017

By Jeremiah Baronberg

“We want a future of work that works for all and gender justice at the workplace is central to this.”
- Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization


On the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day, the United Nations’ will convene its 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women from March 13-24 under the theme of “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

As part of this focus, the International Labor Organization (ILO) together with Gallup is releasing a new report entitled, “Towards a Better Future for Women and Work: Voices of Women and Men.” The report details the results of a global research project conducted through the Gallup World Poll to assess women’s and men’s views around the world about women and work. Interviews were conducted with 149,000 adults across 142 countries.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder helped launch the report at a special event and panel discussion in Washington, DC. Click here to watch the video of the launch event.

Among the report’s highlights include findings that:

  • 70 percent of all women and 66 percent of men would prefer that women have paid jobs
  • 58 percent of women not in the workforce would like to work at paid jobs
  • 41 percent of women would like to be able to work and care for their families

Click here to view more findings and to download the full report.

Although much progress has been made in the last century, women continue to face challenges—in both the developed and the developing world—to achieving full gender equality in the workplace. For example, in many parts of the world, women are unable to escape low-skilled work and must work longer, unpaid hours.

Women’s full and effective participation in the workforce is a key mandate of the ILO, which works to bring new perspectives that can guide actions to make the world of work a more gender-equitable place. Gallup has worked together with the ILO to help inform this effort by conducting this global survey on attitudes and perceptions regarding women and work, from both women and men.

Think you know your facts on women and the economy? Take this short quiz.

History of International Women’s Day

The history of International Women’s Day traces its roots to the political suffrage and labor protest movements of the early 1900s. In 1907, 15,000 women, many of whom were European immigrants working in the garment industry, marched through the streets of New York City to support this vision. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire—to this day the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City history and one of the worst in the history of the United States—shocked the country and added inspiration for marking the day. International conferences soon followed, drawing delegates from around the world. Since then, countries around the world have marked the day in different ways, including as a national holiday and in celebrations, reflection, and open discussions in municipalities and in local workplaces.