Employment Patterns

Yemeni women who are employed report a range among the types of jobs in which they work (Figure 3).

The most common occupations among working Yemeni women are managers, professionals, or technical workers (46%). Eighteen percent of women are in skilled manual occupations and 10% in unskilled manual occupations. Twelve percent of working women are in the clerical sector or services and sales and 12% are self-employed. (Because the overall sample of working women in the study was quite small, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about whether the occupational distribution represented here can be generalized to the population as a whole.)

The largest occupation group for men is services and sales; only 5% of women and 4% of men reported themselves in clerical occupations so those were grouped together with services and sales. Within the manual occupations, more men are in skilled jobs (23%) than unskilled jobs (2%). Fewer men are in managerial, professional, and technical jobs (20%) compared to women (46%). The proportion of men that are report being self-employed (13%) is close to that of women (12%). Nine percent of men are in the armed forces.

Women and men are working in different industries in Yemen (Table 2). Large proportions of women are found in education (32%), manufacturing and processing (19%), health (15%), and agriculture (11%). Men are clustered in services (20%), agriculture (18%), trade and selling (17%), and education (14%).

Among those who work for pay, most Yemeni women (72%) and men (64%) work one to eight hours per day (Figure 5). A larger proportion of men (21%) work 9 or more hours per day than do women (6%). In addition, women are more likely than are men to work only seasonally (9% for women and 4% for men) and on a free schedule (14% for women and 10% for men).

A majority of those women who are employed are paid a salary or regular wages (51%) and nearly a third (32%) are self-employed (Figure 6). In contrast, men are more likely to be employed on an informal basis and paid on a casual or in-kind basis (26%) than are women (17%).

Among working women, the proportion working for a wage or salary increases sharply with education. None of the working women with less than a primary education are salaried workers; roughly three-quarters of working women are self-employed. Among women completing secondary or higher schooling, 84% are salaried workers. Salaried work is more common for women in small towns than in urban areas. Nearly half of women (47%) are self-employed and live in small villages and rural areas.

As shown in Figure 7, women are more likely than men to work in the public sector: 43% of employed women work either in government or in government-owned corporations, compared to 33% of men. Men are nearly twice as likely as women to work for a private household (23% of men and 12% of women).

Among women, public sector employment increases with education. For those with less than a primary education, there are few opportunities in the public sector, but 73% of working women with secondary or more schooling hold such positions. Perhaps the strongest indicator, other than level of education, as to whether a woman would work in the public sector instead of a private household or a private-sector position is the density of the population where she lives; 76% of women in small towns and large villages work in the public sector, compared to either 40% in more urban, and 33% in more rural, communities. Public sector work for women in Yemen also might relate to higher household incomes along with higher levels of education: roughly two-thirds of employed women living in households with incomes either from 60,000 – 99,000 riyals or 100,000 riyals or above work in some sort of government job.

At the same time, private sector employment constitutes a significant portion of all work for women across education level, residential area, and household income level. The smallest percentage of Yemeni women working in the private sector by education level is found among women with secondary degrees or higher, at 27%; by residential area, 17% of women in small towns and large villages work in the private sector. However, by household-income level the difference between the largest and smallest percentage of women employed by private companies is only 10 percentage points, ranging between 38% - 48%. In comparison, employment within private households seems to be concentrated, principally among women with less education, in small villages and rural areas, and from households with lower income levels.
In addition to questions about formal labor force participation, respondents were asked whether they participated in a number of informal economic activities.

Among the informal economic activities in Yemen shown in Figure 8, women are more likely to engage in home production activities raising poultry or livestock, producing dairy products, and collecting firewood. Women are also more likely than men to produce handicrafts. Men are more likely than women to work in Qatt, construction, or trade. Men are also more likely to have access to training for skilled jobs than women.

Figure 9 looks at the extent of engagement in informal work in Yemen by counting the number of the specific activities respondents were asked about in the survey. A larger proportion of women (49%) than men (39%) do not engage in any of the specific informal work activities. Slightly more women are more likely to engage in three or more of the activities (12%) than men (9%).

Women’s engagement in informal work declines as education increases. Among women without any formal schooling 60% of them perform at least one of the activities and 14% are engaged in 3 or more. For women with secondary or higher degrees, only 27% of women engage in informal work with 5% performing three or more tasks.

Women living in rural areas are significantly more likely than their urban counterparts to perform informal work when activities such as raising poultry or livestock or producing dairy products are included. Sixteen percent of women in urban areas performed some of the informal work they were asked about, compared to 64% of women in rural areas.

Interestingly, there is no difference between women in Yemen who work for pay and those who do not in the number of informal activities performed. Paid work does not appear to be a substitute for informal work activities.