Since the beginning of the 1980s, female labor force participation has risen steadily in both the developing and the developed world, while economic activity rates for men have fallen. Female employment has increased even faster than the growth of the female labor force. The increase was most spectacular in countries such as Spain and the Netherlands which entered the 1980s with relatively few women in the labor force. Women now comprise almost half of the labor force in the US, Canada, and the Nordic countries. In Central and Eastern Europe, female labor seems not to have suffered more than that of men in the transition to a market economy and the recession. In developing countries, a large part of the women's labor force continues to be invisible with regard to official statistics which do not adequately reflect women's productive work in the nonmarket economy. Women's increasing economic contribution remains undervalued. Efforts must continue against inequality and discrimination for reasons of social justice and human rights, as well as in the interest of the economy and sustainable development. The growing presence of women in the labor market comes at increasing costs to themselves and to their children, segments of the population which are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of the market and structural adjustment, deteriorating working conditions, unstable or insecure earnings, and the lack of social protection.