Analysis of Gender and Youth Employment in Rwanda

Published: May 2014

This study focuses on labor outcomes of women and youth?the former have moved into low-quality employment, while the latter have high rates of underemployment. Labor market outcomes are examined through geographic analysis and a study of factors affecting employment at the individual level. The analysis is based on cross-sectional data collected by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR). The study uses the two most recent waves of the nationally representative household surveys for 2005/06 and 2010/11. The other source was the 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey. The methods used to meet the study objectives were a literature review of previous work on the Rwandan labor market, participation profiling via a descriptive analysis, and econometric analysis of determinants of employment outcomes.

Key Findings

  • Education is a key determinant of formal employment for women -- especially in urban areas. However, the presence of young children in the household was negatively related to formal employment among women.
  • It is necessary to ensure that young people attain some postsecondary education, which appears to be a prerequisite for nonfarm wage employment. Investment in skills development is also needed, especially for women, to make them more employable and to reduce the male-female wage gap.
  • Among youth, men and women have nearly similar farmwage earnings, but men fare better than women in every other wage category.
  • Women's concentration in unpaid family work suggests that cultural factors (for instance, norms about domestic responsibilities) are important in labour market decisions. Consequently, even if more wage employment becomes available, women's access to such opportunities may not equal that of men.
  • Land rights legislation implemented over the past 15 years that favoured women was a step toward reducing cultural constraints that limit women's labour market opportunities.
  • Rwanda's public works initiative, the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), could address some of the employment needs of women.
  • While overall unemployment rates remained the same between 2005/06 and 2010/11, substantial shifts occurred in the labour market. The percentage of women in agricultural self-employment declined, while the percentage who were unpaid family workers increased.
  • The estimated number of people with non-wage employment fell and the share in non-farm wage employment rose.
  • The overall employment rate was much lower in urban than rural areas 76% vs. 83% in 2010/2011.
  • Between 2005-06 and 2010-11 the share of 15-34 year old workers in non-farm employment rose from 10% to 30% while the share in agricultural self-employment fell from 18% to 6%.
  • Gender differences in wages are considerable; in 2010-11 median monthly salaries were RWF 22,000 for men and RWF 13,200 for women. This gap widened between 2005-06 and 2010-11.
  • Unemployment was lower for youth than for the labour force overall; for example, in urban areas in 2010/11, the rates were 13% and 22%, respectively.

Populations Men, Rural, Urban, Women

Industries Technology

Publishers African Development Bank (AfDB)

Geographic Focus Africa (Central)-Rwanda

Funded by African Development Bank