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YANGON, Myanmar — Census data shows that women are critical to Myanmar’s development. Today only half of women (50.5 per cent) are in the labour force, compared to 85.6 per cent of men. By realizing the potential of women and enabling their entry into the labour market, Myanmar can generate its very own brand of economic growth driven by a “gender dividend”.

“The gender dividend can be unlocked immediately if jobs are created. But for this to happen, women need equal rights to education, jobs, credit, land, and decision-making positions”, says Janet Jackson, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar.

The findings come from the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Thematic Report on Labour Force. The report also examines Myanmar’s total labour force participation rate (men and women), which is among the lowest in ASEAN. Only 63.6 per cent of the population is economically active, compared to 80.9 per cent in Cambodia and 77.4 per cent in Lao.

Myanmar’s low labour force participation is also evident among young people. One in four people aged 15-24 (25.6 per cent) are not in education, employment, or training (NEET). NEET is more than double for young women (34.9 per cent) than for young men (15.8 per cent).

Both youth and adult unemployment are linked to socioeconomic status and education. From age 19, youth unemployment is highest in the richest 20 per cent of the population. People with a graduate diploma have the highest unemployment (9.3 per cent). This is almost five times higher than for people with no education (1.9 per cent).

At the same time, almost 12 million people are underqualified for the work they perform. This is especially true for those performing physical or manual labour at the lowest skill level.

“It will be a significant challenge for Myanmar to build the skills of an inadequately educated population to the level required for an expanding modern economy. Young people in particular require targeted policies and interventions”, says Janet Jackson, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar.

The report also shows that more than half of the working population (56.2 per cent) are in weak employment arrangements that put them at economic risk. People in vulnerable employment include the self-employed or those who work, often without pay, in an enterprise operated by a relative. A higher proportion of women and disabled people are in vulnerable employment.

Download: 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census: Thematic reports


For more information, please contact:
Yenny Gamming; Tel: +95- (0)9 2604 00005;
Si Thu Soe Moe; Tel: +95- (0)9 4500 57730;

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

Notes to editors

The census project
The main results of the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census were published in May 2015. This thematic report is part of a series of 13 thematic reports on diverse topics. The thematic reports contain new data as well as previously released data which have been statistically adjusted for higher accuracy. The reports analyse the relationship between different data, and shed light on what the numbers tell us about the lives of people in Myanmar. The census was conducted by the Government of Myanmar. UNFPA has provided, and continues to provide, technical and financial support towards the census.

An estimated 1,090,000 people who wished to self-identify as Rohingya were not enumerated in the census. UNFPA recognizes their non-enumeration as a serious shortcoming of the census and a grave human rights concern, and regards it as critical that all rights are restored as soon as possible. An estimated 69,700 people in Kayin State and 46,600 people in Kachin State were also not enumerated. In total, an estimated 1.2 million people were not enumerated in the census. These estimated 1.2 million people were included in the total population count of 51.5 million. However, since data on characteristics is not available for the people who were not enumerated, the data and analysis presented in this report covers only those enumerated during the census.

Online census library
Census reports can be accessed on the UNFPA website or on the Department of Population website.