Women’s employment in Lithuania: EU context

Vida Kanopienė


With the restitution of independence, the role of female labour in on the economy of the country has started to diminish. During the period of 1991-2001 the total number of employed decreased by 375.8 thousand, women comprised even 68 percent in a decrease of the total number of employed persons. According to the 2001 Population Census data, the employment rate of working age females has decreased by 20 percentage points, if compared with 1989. However, the Labour Exchange information and the findings of Labour force surveys do not reveal such a big scope of women’s“withdrawal” from the labour market - in the 10th decade they made about a half of registered unemployed persons and even less than a half – among the unemployed recorded by Labour Force surveys. Thus, a big number of females have become housewives (economically inactive) or were involved into activities of informal sector.
A comparison of tendencies of women’s employment in Lithuania and the other post communist countries during transitional period enables to conclude that rapid decrease of their economic activity was almost universally predominant. The other characteristic feature of women’s participation in the labour market was concentration of their labour force in certain domains of professional activities, e.g. light industry, trade and social services. Analysis of statistical data shows that segregation of the labour market is observed both in EU-15 and new member states, however, the ES-10 are distinguished by the bigger“feminisation” of social services and lower“masculinisation” of industrial sector.
Alongside the recovery of economy, the growth of employment and rapid decrease of the number of unemployed is observed in Lithuania since 2002. However, these positive changes in the labour market are related to much greater extent with men’s participation: during 2002-2004 they made even 85.5 percent of the increase of the total number of employed, respectively their employment rate has increased by 2.3 percentage points and reached 64.6 percent (the employment rate of females has changed only by 0.7 percentage points, reaching the level of 57.8 percent).
Still, women’s employment rate in Lithuania is higher, if compared with many EU member states: in 2003 the average EU-25 rate was 55.1 percent, EU-15 – 56 percent, EU-10 – 50.2 percent. Employment gender gap is by 10.1 percentage points lower than the EU-25 average indicator. But, contrary to the overall EU trends, the gender employment gap is increasing in Lithuania: in 2001-2003 it has changed from 2.7 to 5.6 percentage points. Respectively the unemployment gender gap has reversed during this period from (-4.6) to 1.2. The latest statistical data demonstrate the continuation of these trends: according to the Labour Force survey data for 2004, the unemployment rate for women is 11.8%, for men – 11.0%.


equal gender opportunities; women’s employment; segregation of the labour market; employment rate; unemployment rate

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