30.8 Percent of Female Employment is Unregistered

On May 1, while workers' struggle for rights and labor was being discussed, the book "Women Surfs of Labor" published by Altınbaş University Publications revealed the inequality and rights violations experienced by women workers.

Published by Altınbaş University Publications in 2024 and edited by Gülçin Taşkıran, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences, "Women Surets of Labor" addresses the situation of women's labor in Türkiye in a multifaceted way. The book consists of 8 articles written by 9 female academics and covers gender roles of women's labor, discrimination in the labor market, poverty, precariousness and many other topics. 

According to the data obtained from the book, although the labor force participation rate in Türkiye is increasing, the share of women in the labor force is far below the average of EU and OECD countries. Women are often forced to work in low-paid and precarious jobs. Moreover, the fact that domestic care services are seen as women's primary duty prevents women from entering the workforce and limits their economic independence.

Among the issues addressed in the book are gender inequality in education and health and women's poverty. In particular, despite women's high level of education, inequality in labor force participation and wage disparities stand out. However, "Female Faces of Labor" does not only articulate the problems, but also proposes solutions. In order to increase women's participation in the labor force, it is emphasized that home care services should be provided as public services, full-time and secure jobs should be provided for women instead of precarious and part-time jobs, and policy changes are necessary to ensure gender equality.

Inequalities in women's labor are listed in the book as follows:

-While the labor force participation rate in Türkiye is 54.3 percent, women make up only 34.5 percent of this rate.
Although the narrow-defined female unemployment rate in Türkiye is 11.3 percent, the broad-defined female unemployment rate, which includes women who have given up looking for a job even though they need a job, who have lost hope of finding a job and who are underemployed due to time, is 32.9 percent. 

-Women work for 15 percent lower wages than men.

Women are more likely to work in labor-intensive and unskilled jobs.

-Housework and home care services have a negative impact on women's labor force participation and progress in business life.

-Although they have higher levels of education than men, this does not always guarantee that they can find jobs and earn higher wages.

Women's labor is rendered invisible and devalued

The book also highlights important issues such as the fact that women's labor is often rendered invisible and undervalued, that women are subjected to exploitation of both paid and unpaid labor, the need to develop policies to remove barriers to their participation in the labor force, and the need to combat gender-based inequality. 

Unregistered female employment rate is 30.8 percent 

In Türkiye, where unregistered employment is still a bleeding wound, the fact that women are more likely to be in unregistered employment is also presented to the reader in the book. The informal employment data shared is as follows: 

"According to 2023 data, 30.8 percent of women in Türkiye are employed informally. Unregistered employment causes labor to suffer significant rights losses. Women, who are uninsured due to unregistered employment, and who are naturally employed in jobs with job insecurity, low wages, little chance of organization, and no occupational safety measures, have to feel the disadvantage and risk of poverty they experience as women deeply as disadvantage in old age by being deprived of retirement income."  

Gender pay gap in employment 

Although the tendency for women to work for lower wages than men manifested itself in the early stages of capitalism, it still continues today. According to OECD data, the gender pay gap in 2021 will be 12 percent in OECD countries and 15.6 percent in Türkiye, and the book continues as follows 

"The gender pay gap in employment is used to refer to the wage gap between male and female workers, with women generally earning lower wages than men. There are many reasons for this wage gap. Gender inequality and the subordination of women's labor are the most fundamental reasons. The view that women belong to the private sphere/home and the high probability of women taking legal leave for reasons such as marriage, leaving work, maternity and childcare are also among the reasons that employers put forward to explain the low wage policy. In addition to these, the fact that women are kept away from education or cut off early due to the definition of gender roles through the home and household causes women to turn to unskilled or low-skilled jobs in general. However, in cases where women's level of education is equal to or even higher than the level of education of male labor, it is seen that women retain the wage power of men in the labor market."

"We must act together"

In her evaluation of the book, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gülçin Taşkıran emphasized the need to act together to overcome the problems and said:

"Policy makers and society need to act together to overcome these problems and increase women's labor force participation. To increase women's labor force participation, home care services should be provided as a public service. In addition, women should be provided with secure, registered and full-time employment opportunities, and problems such as wage inequality and unregistered employment should be resolved. To achieve gender equality, gender discrimination must be rejected at all levels. Taking these steps will contribute to the economic and social empowerment of women and the overall well-being of society."