Mongolia’s Labor Minister on Tackling the Workplace Gender Gap

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Mongolia’s Labor Minister on Tackling the Workplace Gender Gap

An interview with Minister of Labor and Social Protection Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar.

Mongolia’s Labor Minister on Tackling the Workplace Gender Gap

Mongolia’s Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Mongolia Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar speaks to the press, Mar. 20, 2024.

Credit: Facebook/ Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Mongolia

Mongolia has made commitments to a variety of United Nations agendas, one being the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on Gender Equity and Empowerment of Women. Mongolia’s gender gap has impacted its labor force for years. However, by enabling and increasing opportunities, more women and girls can enter the labor force. This will also help prevent labor shortages in the future. 

Mongolia’s Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Mongolia Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar gave an interview to The Diplomat on Mongolia’s efforts and challenges in reaching its goal during her attendance at the 68th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in New York, the United States. 

Research from the U.N. Development Program indicated that as of 2020, women accounted for only 17.1 percent of seats in the Mongolian parliament, which is well below the global average of 24.9 percent. What are some of the efforts being made to support female representation in the political system and gender equality across the Mongolian workforce? 

Support for gender equality and increasing the role of women in public life is a key part of the Government of Mongolia’s “Vision 2050” development plan. Our work focuses on ensuring women and girls have the ability and potential to shape the world we live in. We want examples of women’s leadership in government, business, and wider society to become the norm, rather than the exception. 

Mongolia has made great progress in this space. In 1992, just one in 20 legislators in our parliament were women. Today, it is one in six, and we are ambitious to improve this further. A series of recent constitutional amendments will ensure women have a stronger voice in our legislative branch. In Mongolia’s upcoming parliamentary election this year, at least 30 percent of a party’s political candidates are required to be female. These numbers will rise to 40 percent by the 2028 election. 

Outside of elected representatives in parliament, 60 percent of Mongolia’s civil servants in government are women.

On a wider societal level, I have been proud to witness a great expansion of the number of women in the workplace – particularly in the skilled sectors and senior management levels. Today, over 60 percent of university graduates in Mongolia are women. 

Research on Mongolia’s workforce indicates that only 53.4 percent of working-age women participate in the labor force, while women dominate in unpaid roles. How is Mongolia working toward its long-term targets of reforming its labor market and building a highly skilled workforce, which enables more options and opportunities for women and girls? 

The current government is delivering an ambitious long-term plan to reform its labor market and create a highly skilled workforce. Improving quality of life is one of the core goals of Vision 2050 to make Mongolia a leading Asian country in terms of social development, economic growth, and citizens’ quality of life. The New Recovery Policy has delivered strong growth for Mongolia’s economy, helping it bounce back quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic and global inflation crisis. This enabled us to enhance our public services and ensure their accessibility to all, create a balanced and sustainable economy, and keep people in jobs.

Our forward-looking strategy focuses on promoting equal access to innovative employment opportunities, such as through online and remote job platforms, and improving data collection on informal employment. Also, special attention has been given to training skilled workers for key sectors such as agriculture, industry, and infrastructure, with an emphasis on fostering entrepreneurship among graduates. 

As a result of the New Recovery Policy, we expect per capita national income to double in up to 10 years’ time, with a maintained average of 6 percent growth in the long term, and the labor force participation to reach 65 percent. We recognize that the aftermath of the pandemic and the global inflation crisis has created challenges for families and businesses in Mongolia, but we feel positive about future potentials and opportunities.  

How is Mongolia supporting families and children? What are some of the investments being made?

Families in Mongolia have faced the threat of financial hardship following the pandemic. Mongolia is actively investing in initiatives to support children and families, particularly education and child protection programs. A substantial sum of 4.8 trillion Mongolian tugrik (MNT) was allocated to assist Mongolians during the cost-of-living crisis, with a significant portion, amounting to 1.3 trillion MNT, designated for child support as a social service.

In addition to financial assistance, the government is spearheading efforts to enhance the education system, ensuring that young people are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in an evolving world. 

Notably, a ground-breaking partnership between Google and the Mongolian government has been established to bolster digital literacy among young Mongolians and support the growth of the nation’s digital economy. Moreover, the partnership aims to ensure that every teacher in Mongolia is equipped with a digital device, with a subsequent goal of providing every high school student with similar resources. 

Furthermore, the government is committed to improving child protection measures and promoting the overall well-being of families. Investments in schools and kindergartens are prioritized to create safe and conducive learning environments for children. Through comprehensive policies and initiatives, Mongolia is striving to nurture a supportive ecosystem where children can thrive academically and socially, while families are provided with the necessary resources and safeguards to ensure their welfare.

What progress has Mongolia made in improving support for people with disabilities, and ensuring work opportunities for these groups of people?

The Government of Mongolia has prioritized support for citizens with disabilities to ensure inclusivity and equal opportunities. With an estimated 115,000 individuals living with disabilities in Mongolia, a significant proportion of whom are of working age, efforts have been directed toward enabling their participation in the workforce and enhancing their quality of life. 

Recognizing the importance of employment for individuals with disabilities, the government has implemented measures to facilitate their integration into the labor market. One notable initiative requires private enterprises with more than 20 employees to hire at least one person with a disability, thereby fostering workplace diversity and providing meaningful employment opportunities. 

Moreover, the government has established disability centers across the country to provide essential services and support for individuals with disabilities. Currently, five such centers are operational, offering various services ranging from rehabilitation to vocational training. The expansion of these facilities, with plans to construct an additional five centers in the coming year, underscores the government’s commitment to improving accessibility and support for people with disabilities nationwide. 

Through these initiatives, Mongolia aims to create an inclusive society where individuals with disabilities can actively contribute to the workforce and lead fulfilling lives, aligning with broader efforts to enhance social welfare and economic development.