Gender and skills development – improving access for women to the job market

Women and men in Burkina Faso stand around an engine on a table.
The SDC ensures that the vocational training programmes it supports are open to women. © SDC

Women still remain at a disadvantage in terms of income and access to employment. By promoting professional competences in a targeted way, women's chances of being truly integrated in the job market are now increasing. The SDC ensures that its vocational skills development projects take into account the specific needs of women and promote gender equality.

SDC focus

Respect for gender equality is one of the SDC's main concerns throughout its activities. The SDC ensures that a gender perspective is integrated in the design of its vocational skills development projects. Its specific objectives are the following: 

  • Equal access to training
    The SDC ensures that the training courses it supports are aimed at men and women alike. In partnership with the private sector it ensures that women are not excluded, for example because of a distribution of work based on gender. The training courses must take into account other tasks which women often have to fulfil, such as their children's education, housework and fetching water.

  • Taking into account all possibilities of employment, both formal and informal
    The SDC ensures that it carries out an overall assessment of the job market in each of its partner countries. This analysis takes into account possibilities of employment in the informal sector, where women play a predominant role.
  • A market needs-based approach
    The vocational training courses the SDC supports have to respond to the demands of the job market. One of the main challenges in this area is to bridge the gap between the skills of workers – particularly women – and labour market requirements. In rural areas, the focus is on women's access to natural resources and territorial governance. These two factors enhance the empowerment of women and at the same time improve food security. In urban areas the SDC works to ensure that women have access to good-quality basic education and vocational training throughout their lives to enable them to secure long-term, well-paid employment. 


Generally women are more affected by unemployment than men, the main reason for this being that their level of education is on average lower. That is why in order to reduce world poverty women must have better access to training, to acquire the skills they need to find gainful employment.

When devising training opportunities, the SDC also needs to take account of the segregation that exists between the sexes. This segregation is not confined to the job market. From an early age, social role models between girls and boys are set in stone and these go on to affect women's access to vocational training in later life. The main factors at work here are the distribution of roles within the family, and the rights and obligations of each sex. Developing fair opportunities in vocational training for all means tackling these prejudices and trying to change them.