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Report Spotlights People Working In Lowest-Paid Jobs

An Afghan woman weaving a carpet (file photo) 31 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A new UN report says women fill the bulk of the world's lowest-paid, most precarious jobs -- and that improving their lot is key to fighting global poverty.

The report by the UN's women's fund, UNIFEM, says some 550 million people are unable to earn more than $1 a day.

Of those, author Martha Chen estimates between 50 percent and 60 percent are women often working in unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

"They are in the informal economy and there are risks that they face being in informal employment that really have to be addressed if we're going to reduce poverty," Chen said. "That's the main concern. It's not that people need work; they have work. The majority [of these 550 million] have work of some kind, it's just that the work is not decent enough to allow them to work their way out of poverty."

The report says globalization has pushed many people into insecure and badly paid jobs, whether in unregulated factories, agriculture, or scavenging garbage heaps for items to sell.