Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Yemen has long been recognized as the poorest country in the region and has yet to be fully-integrated to the global economy. As a consequence of low confidence levels, money and assets have been diverted out of the country and invested elsewhere for decades.

By the end of 2015, roughly one-quarter of all businesses had closed and exports of oil and natural gas – once the country’s principal commodity – had tumbled by 85 per cent, leaving Yemen with limited foreign exchange. Imports have been halved – and with the operations of the Central Bank of Yemen difficult – they being directed primarily through unofficial channels. Gross domestic product decreases every year, shrinking nearly 28 per cent in 2015, 9.8 per cent in 2016, and 7.5 per cent in 2017. The government has been unable to pay its employees and many Yemenis have lost their jobs or income sources. As a result, some have resorted to negative coping mechanisms – taking their children out of school, forcing girls under 18 to marry or recruiting children to participate in violence.

The SDGs promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.

Facts and figures


An estimated 172 million people worldwide were without work in 2018 - an unemployment rate of 5 percent.

1 million

As a result of an expanding labour force, the number of unemployed is projected to increase by 1 million every year and reach 174 million by 2020.

700 million

Some 700 million workers lived in extreme or moderate poverty in 2018, with less than US$3.20 per day.


Women’s participation in the labour force stood at 48 per cent in 2018, compared with 75 percent for men. Around 3 in 5 of the 3.5 billion people in the labour force in 2018 were men.

2 billion

Overall, 2 billion workers were in informal employment in 2016, accounting for 61 per cent of the world’s workforce.

85 million

Many more women than men are underutilized in the labour force—85 million compared to 55 million.

  • Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries

  • Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors

  • Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services

  • Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead

  • By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value

  • By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training

  • Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms

  • Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment

  • By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products

  • Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all

  • Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries

  • By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization
Goals in action

Mid-wife reignites livelihood hopes for a conflict-scarred family

Perhaps most importantly, this support restored Noor’s hope for the future, her confidence, and gave her the ambition to expand her clinic.

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Elderly women learn to weather hardships, hope for a better future

Like many Yemeni women, Fatima hopes the war ends and that she can reclaim the life she once knew. Through the cash-for-work project, she has been…

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Helping rebuild an entrepreneur's life and create jobs during ongoing conflict

Thanks to the grant, Asma was able to rent a large workspace, purchase more sewing machines, increase her production line, and hire 17 seamstresses…

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Women take adversity head-on and rebuild life by growing smart businesses

Ambitious to continue growing and rebuilding her community, Um has begun partnering with large grocery stores to sell her products.

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Grants help female-headed homes stabilize living conditions

Now, Samia has her sights set on securing a larger loan to expand the scope of her grocery store and meet all of her customers’ needs.

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Grants help women enterprises, relieve debt burden in Yemen

Since opening her salon, Amenah’s life has changed dramatically. Now, she has paid off the family’s debts, paid off their rent, and has enough money…

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Samiah: Caught between war and displacement

Samiah hopes for peace to prevail in Yemen and that the war will come to an end soon. She tells us of her story fleeing war in hopes of a better life,…

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Coffee farmers: Restoring hope amidst crisis in Yemen

Mohammed was one of many coffee farmers in Burra who found hope in a business resilience project that aimed to expand production through improving…

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Opening the door to success in Lawdar district

Mohammed Salem Al Dalak , a 27-year old young man from Lawdar District in Abyan Governorate, is one of those who have been affected by the ongoing…

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