While the benefits of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to better learning are now widely acknowledged, a widespread and accessible provision for these services also helps support gender equality in the workforce. In particular, the availability, intensity, reliability and affordability of ECEC play an important role in engaging women full time in the labour market. While ECEC has experienced a surge of policy attention over the last decades, wide variations still exist across countries and its costs remains a barrier to accessing paid work for poor families and lone parents, mostly mothers. More efforts are needed to increase the provision and accessibility of free ECEC services, especially for children under the age of 3.
How does access to early childhood services affect the participation
of women in the labour market?
• Women’s labour force participation has increased significantly over the past 30 years. The rise in early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision over this period has greatly contributed to this change, particularly for mothers with children under the age of 3.
• In spite of this increase, women are still three times more likely to work part time than men. Increasing the number of ECEC hours per week available to young children is paramount to increasing the full-time participation of mothers in the labour market.
• Participation in ECEC is not only important for women’s employment. It also has positive effects on children’s well-being, learning and development. However, in some countries, poorer families still face significant financial barriers to accessing these services. More efforts are needed to make ECEC services more affordable, especially for children under the age of 3.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at OECD iLibrary | How does access to early childhood education services affect the participation of women in the labour market?