Research on the status of women by the public sector is currently at much higher levels than 10 years ago, particularly in the economic sphere, perhaps because governments have finally realized that it is to their own advantage to have as much information as possible readily available. As the International Labor Organization has pointed out:
Lack of knowledge with respect to women's actual, as well as potential, participation in the labour force will always have a detrimental effect, not only on women themselves, but on national development processes in general. Awareness of the real extent which women's activity has reached, of the importance of women's income for family welfare and of the contribution of women for family development is essential to the formulation of adequate policy measures and the adjustment of strategies in such a way as to benefit both women and men in the area of employment and, in turn, to enhance the development process as a whole. ( I.L.O. and U.N. Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women: Women in Economic Activity 1950-2000, Geneva, 1985, p. 5.)
In future research the perspective should be that women have legitimate aspirations which have not yet been met.
There is an absence of unanimity as to what the real aspirations of women are. Questions to be answered deal with practicalities, for example: Are there enough jobs to go around? Are there sufficient resources to give women what they seek? Does women's equality require a sacrifice for men? What has been the result of legislation aimed at helping women in cities, states and countries?
Any research which has law as its fulcrum should first examine the role of the legal process, what the constitution provides, the general nature of legislation and court decisions, limitations on the legal process and, finally, administrative enforcement policies. This should then be followed by an examination of what the law has and has not done in respect of biological problems, cultural obstacles, educational obstacles, poverty, wage differentials, unequal pensions, marital rights and religious obstacles as with Islam and Catholicism.
Research which examines the demand for equality should cover participation in decision making with men, voting, representation, political party representation, civil service, political leadership positions, and women in corporations. In the job market one should look at work opportunities, equal pay and wage gaps, unfair dismissal, public and private pensions, sexual harassment, police and military and private executive opportunities and, finally, property and business, title to property, contract rights and credit and inheritance.