Labor force participation among Yemeni women is extremely low, particularly when compared to that of men: 61% of men work for pay, compared to only 7% of women (Figure 1). Levels of working for pay are slightly higher for women between ages 25 and 44 than for either younger or older women. Unmarried women and women who live in urban areas and small towns are all somewhat more likely to work than their respective counterparts. However, labor force participation for Yemeni women in general is quite low by both regional and international standards.
Formal education in Yemen appears to prepare women for paid work (for more analysis about education levels among Yemeni women, please see “Educational Attainment and Career Aspirations” Topic Brief). Figure 2 shows that the rate of women working for pay is higher for women who complete at least secondary schooling than for women with less education. Twenty-one percent – three times the overall rate for women – who complete secondary schooling and nearly half (48%) of women who complete a postsecondary degree are working for pay.
Low labor force participation cannot be entirely attributed to the preferences of women themselves: 46% of young women surveyed indicated that they intended to or already were pursuing a career. This question was asked only among respondents under age 25, but even among this age group only 12% of women currently work (not shown).
As shown in Table 1, women and men give different reasons for not working. Two-thirds of women report that they are occupied by their roles as wives and mothers (52% stated they are housewives and 15% reported that they are engaged in household or family duties). More than one in ten women (11%) reports that no work is available. Lack of job opportunities is the most frequently given reason for men reporting they were not working the previous week (28%). Many men also report being out of the labor force for schooling (24%) or for age-related reasons (14%).