Census to consider sex workers as gainfully employed

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter

SEX workers will be considered as “gainfully self-employed” during the National Population and Housing Census to be held next month as they contribute to economic activity.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) yesterday said the 2022 Population and Housing Census to be held from 21 to 30 April will establish the country’s employment and unemployment rates. 

Zimstat will be using the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) definition of employment to classify the country’s employment figures hence the inclusion of sex work as “employment.” 

ILO estimates that sex workers support between five to eight people with their earnings and they contribute to economic activity.

However, sex work remains illegal in the country while most people in the informal sector consider themselves unemployed despite generating incomes. 

In an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing census training for provincial government officials in Bulawayo, Zimstat acting manager Surveys and Provincial Operations Mr Langton Chikeya said part of the census exercise will be to establish the country’s working population.

Mr Chikeya said anyone involved in profit generating projects, including sex work, will be considered to be a worker. 

“If we get our working population then we are going to classify them into a labour force where we have people who are employed and those who are not employed. So, we define employment as work performed for others in exchange of pay, profit or family gain. So, those who are employed are employees for example, a statistician is an employee of a certain company and those who are self-employed or we can call them on account workers for instance vendors can be called on account workers, because they are doing work for profit,” said Mr Chikeya.

“You can also talk about sex workers, they are doing work for profit or family gain. We also have employers who also fall under the bracket of employment.”

He said another group of gainfully employed people are those working for a family business although they might be directly paid as they also get some form of benefits. 

Mr Chikeya said employed individuals are those performing an economic activity to provide goods and services and are paid for it. 

“But work excludes activities that do not produce goods and services. Activities such as begging and stealing we cannot consider that as work because they are not producing goods or a service,” he said.

Mr Chikeya said the census will also make a classification for individuals who will be considered to be unemployed.

“We have part of unemployment, there are three conditions that are supposed to be met if we want to say this person is unemployed. We are saying a person is unemployed if the person is without work, is seeking work and available for work,” said Mr Chikeya.

“If you do not meet any of these three you are not in unemployment. I think that is where most people get it wrong when they classify unemployment. You have to satisfy the three conditions if you are to be considered unemployed for you to be called unemployed.” 

He said individuals who might not be working and are not seeking employment are not classified as unemployed. 

Mr Chikeya said Zimstat is also seeking to establish the prevalence of child labour cases in the country. 

“The census is looking at the working population so we are collecting information on people who are 10 years and above. Usually, we are supposed to collect information for 15-year-olds and above that is the working age population. So, we have included the 10-year-olds and above so that we can capture data on working children,” Mr Chikeya.

He said through the exercise, the country  will also establish the number of discouraged workers.

“Labour force is important because it shows us the unemployment rate, and it also shows that level where we are in terms of labour force in Zimbabwe. For example, you might say a person is unemployed, but if that person does not meet the three criteria that I mentioned, that person is not seeking work and is available for work, that person is a discouraged work seeker,” he said.

“They have no work; they want the work, but are not looking for work because they know that they are not going to find work. It will show that our country does not have enough jobs for people and this comes from the census. This is good that the census is taking every household and everyone is counted. This is the most appropriate methodology to get such information than a survey because we are going to talk to everyone.” – @nqotshili

You Might Also Like