• University of Basel logo
  • Logo for ICFG

Gender and Labour in the Global South

Delve into the Global South's labour market to understand gender issues and impacts on sustainable development.

503 enrolled on this course

Illustration of a woman worker in the textile industry. She is counting pieces of garments
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Examine gender discrimination in the Global South’s labour market

Although women’s participation in the paid labour market has increased in recent decades, gender discrimination in access to decent work persists. Women, particularly in the Global South, have the lowest participation in the labour market due to a number of factors.

This three-week course from the University of Basel will guide you in assessing the Global South’s labour market to understand the impact of gender inequality in labour.

Discover how gender equality in labour contributes to sustainable development

You’ll delve into the major role the labour market plays in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda from the United Nations.

With this understanding, you’ll explore the importance of decent work for sustainable development and examine how gender equality can boost the global economy.

Explore how intersectionality and gender roles impact women’s opportunities

On this course, you’ll explore how intersectionality and gender roles minimise women’s access to decent work, and examine how this labour often goes uncompensated.

You’ll hear testimonies from women workers in Laos, Nepal and Rwanda to further investigate the labour market from a gender perspective.

Study with global experts

The educators leading this course have a wealth of experience in the fields of gender and women in the labour market.

Their combined insight and expertise will provide you with the guidance to understand the impact of gender on the labour market and be empowered to advocate for decent work for all.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Work is part of our daily lives, whether we are employed or self-employed. Whether we work in or outside the home. We are all involved in labour markets in one way or another.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds But what does our gender have to do with labour markets around the world? What difference does it make whether we are female or male? A huge difference, as it turns out. Men are more likely to occupy higher positions with higher salaries. While women are more likely to occupy lower positions with lower salaries. For a few decades now, more and more women have been participating in the labour market. This in itself is good news. But how integrated are women actually? What kind of work do they do? I have to get water from the local water spout and cook food. I do go wash clothes sometimes and they pay around 200 to 300 Nepalese rupees.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds What are the reasons for the inequalities that still persist? And how can they be remedied? Join the course “Gender and Labour in the Global South” if you’d like to discuss these questions and more. In the course, we will be talking to women in Laos, Nepal and Rwanda to hear their workplace stories. Throughout the course, we will also be exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on labour markets worldwide. The central questions are, does the COVID-19 pandemic affect women and men differently in the workplace? If so, why?

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds Sabaidy, I am Bounseng Khammounty from Laos.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second Namaste, my name is Dr Sony KC. I would like to welcome you to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds I’m Christine Bigler from Switzerland. Join these three educators and investigate the connection between gender and labour markets in the Global South. We look forward to welcoming you to the course.


  • Week 1

    Decent work for women and men in the Global South

    • Women’s participation in the labour market

      Meet the three educators and find out how this course works. Discuss women's participation in the paid labour market, existing gender gaps in the world of work and the unequal distribution of access to decent work.

    • First examples, first analytical tools

      Investigate the concept of the gendered labour market. Discover the notion of productive and reproductive work. Discuss your examples of horizontal and vertical segregation in the labour market.

    • The national and the regional level

      How do you measure young people’s access to the labour market? Explore relevant indicators and discuss how public policies could address the problem of youth unemployment.

    • The global level

      Gender equality and decent work are important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda. Explore specific goals. Understand why it is important to analyse the labour market with a gender lens.

  • Week 2

    Gender gaps in (re)productive economy

    • A case study from Nepal

      Why is it important to ensure decent working conditions for women and men? Listen to the testimonies of Nepali women workers. Discuss informal employment as well as unpaid care work and its impact on labour market participation.

    • The impact of gender roles

      Gender roles condition how women and men enter the labour market. Discuss the conditions and explore why care work is relevant for social development and economic growth, and why public policies need to address the issue.

    • The regional and the national level

      Listen to the testimonies of casual agricultural workers in Rwanda. Discuss the importance of financial inclusion of women and men and how access to financial skills contributes to sustainable development.

    • The global level

      Discuss why labour market policies need to consider the gender variable in order to guarantee equal opportunities for women and men. Explore the difference between gender-sensitive and gender-responsive policies.

  • Week 3

    Women and men in different labour market sectors

    • From grassroots practices to the theoretical level

      Besides gender, other social categories such as ethnicity, religion, or disability condition how people participate in the labour market. Explore how an intersectional perspective can help to design labour market policies.

    • Balancing act between national and regional

      Read about the industrial sector in Laos. Discuss the importance of vocational training and education in ensuring access to decent work for women and men.

    • The global level

      The COVID-19 pandemic had multiple socio-economic impacts. Some of its effects were gendered. Investigate these effects and discuss how public policies aimed at improving social wellbeing can address future crises.

    • Learnings and Thanks

      Well done – you have reached the end of this course. In this last activity, we are interested in what you learned and want to thank you for your interest and commitment.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the importance of the concept of “gender” in promoting decent work and sustainable development.
  • Investigate the labour market from a gender perspective and at global, regional, and local levels.
  • Evaluate the concept of “productive and reproductive work”. Identify its meaning and assess how it influences the way women and men participate in the labour market.
  • Reflect on why it is important to incorporate gender considerations into labour market policies.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for policymakers and students of development and gender studies.

It will also appeal to anyone interested in key aspects of the labour market in the Global South.

Who will you learn with?

I am a senior researcher and lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies at the University of Bern.

Sony K.C., holds a PhD in Development Studies and has 9 years of research experience in sectors: Livelihoods, Social Protection, Gender & Social Inclusion, Feminization of Agriculture/labor mark

Bounseng Khammounty is Deputy General Director of the Vocational Education Development Institute (VEDI) in Laos P.D.R., developed the conception of Pre- and In Service of vocational teacher education.

Who developed the course?

University of Basel

The University of Basel has an international reputation of outstanding achievements in research and teaching.

University of Bern, Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ICFG)

As a cross-disciplinary network, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ICFG) bundles the gender competencies of the University of Bern and works as a competence centre for inter-and transdisciplinary gender research at the interface between science and practice. The ICFG aims to produce and share knowledge on relevant socio-political issues from a gender and human rights perspective.

Endorsers and supporters

funded by

Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues Logo

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLgenderandlabour to talk about this course on social media.