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"Given the varied and complex drivers at play, how may women's economic participation best be bolstered?"

Despite progress, wide gender gaps remain: women have fewer economic opportunities than men, more men than women work in most countries, and women often get paid less for similar work. As a result, the tremendous potential economic contribution from women remains untapped in a number of countries.

Gender equity is in itself an important social objective, but the lack of it also imposes a heavy economic cost because it hampers productivity and weighs on growth. Gender inequality also has a number of other adverse macroeconomic consequences, such as higher income inequality and lower economic diversification.

This Overview consisting of a Forward and Preface is a part of the IMF report, "Women, Work, and Economic Growth: Leveling the Playing Field", which presents longitudinal trends in female labor force participation rates, noting that they have hovered around 50 percent for the past two decades, compared with an average of almost 77 percent for men. This Knowledge Note then shows that a lack of basic rights, lower female literacy rates, and gender gaps in access to social and financial services all have implications for women’s economic productivity. Finally, a literature review is provided regarding the potential losses in GDP growth that can be attributed to these gender gaps in the labor market.

This Knowledge Note is a condensed form of a report from the IMF report, "Women, Work, and Economic Growth: Leveling the Playing Field". To access the full report, please click here.