Gender-responsive diagnostics of the informal economy and employment in Uzbekistan – consultations with social partners

On 9 November 2022, social partners and key national stakeholders participated in the inception workshop in Tashkent to discuss methodology for a gender-responsive diagnostics of the scope, incidence and drivers of the informal economy and employment.

News | 10 November 2022
In his opening remarks, Erkin Mukhitdinov, First Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations of Uzbekistan, highlighted that “informal employment in Uzbekistan is pervasive and is around 60% of total economically active population. That is why reforms and the development agenda of the Government of Uzbekistan aim to promote employment and decent working conditions for all workers, including those in the informal economy.” Erkin Mukhitdinov referred to the Presidential Decree “On measures for reduction of the share of informal employment” which provides for concrete measures to address the situation of different categories of informal workers.

High informality means that large numbers of people do not have minimum guaranteed level of income security when they experience common contingencies, notably maternity and unemployment. In her presentation Shea McClanahan, team leader, senior social policy specialist, international consulting firm “Development Pathways Ltd.” noted that “women are particularly disadvantaged due to low labour force participation, gendered segmentation of the labour market, gender-based norms and attitudes, and features of the social protection system that may exacerbate inequalities, especially in earnings-related systems and that the gender-responsive diagnostic of informality will inform the development of potential policy solutions for informally employed workers and their families in Uzbekistan.”

Preliminary analysis of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2022 dataset reveals that almost 4 in 10 (39 %) of the jobs in Uzbekistan were informal. In particular, within the sector of domestic work employed by households, 80 % of the jobs were informal. Also at high informality levels, 71 % of the jobs in the agricultural, forestry, and fishing sector, and 73 % of the jobs in the construction sector, were informal.

A majority of female employment was concentrated in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector, wholesale and retail trade sector, and accommodation and catering services sector.

Under a gender-responsive diagnostics of the scope, incidence and drivers of the informal economy and employment, the following three criteria (key role to job creation in Uzbekistan; high levels of informality; high levels of female participation) have been applied for selection of 7 economic sectors for analysis. These seven sectors are: 1) agriculture, forestry, and fishing, 2) construction, 3) wholesale and retail trade, 4) accommodation and catering services, 5) education, 6) healthcare and social services, and 7) domestic work employed by households. Relevant focus-group discussions with informal workers of selected industry sectors were arranged to understand drivers of informality.

In her closing remarks, Jasmina Papa, social protection specialist, ILO Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, noted that “action on the ground should be rights-based and focused on those, especially women, who are vulnerable to the most serious decent work deficits in the informal economy. It should realize the full potential for transformation of social protection and empower and equip workers so that they do not fall back into informal employment. Action on the ground should seek to make heard the voice of people, including through the strengthening of informal economy organizations and the promotion of inclusive social dialogue. It should also ensure that the social impacts, including gender impacts, as well as risks associated with different strategies towards formalization are fully assessed ex-ante and ex-post and lessons are drawn from these assessments.”

The national stakeholders also discussed the Concept for development of National programme on Transition from informal to formal economy were presented and discussed with national stakeholders.

The workshop was organized under the ILO Project on Transition from Informal to Formal Economy and technically guided by the international consulting firm “Development Pathways Ltd.”