household economic activities (Labour Force Survey 2000)8.
Table 2. Labour participation rates of
selected countries (above 15 years, %)
Source: Compiled from LABORSTA
From the above figures, therefore, it can be stated that while a majority of women are at work, the number of women who have entered the labour market as wage labour is still limited. The main impediment to women’s participation in wage labour is considered to be a social norm called purdah (seclusion of women. The
interpretations vary individual’s religion,
person to person, age, position in the
particularly family and
in relation to the living environment,
purdah is an integral part of society related to evaluation of status, arrangement of marriages, division
as a system and as a symbol and ownership and inheritance of of labour, and female sexuality
is deeply property, (Papanek
1973:290). As notions of female
an integral part of the value system, purdah and associated space, role and behaviour serve as powerful weapons to control
women’s choice of work. Thus women have been excluded, voluntarily, from public spheres, including the labour market.
8 The latest labour force survey of 2002/03 uses only the usual or conventional definition.