Women around the world take on far more unpaid work than men but what they should never do is agree to a lower wage in the workplace, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday.

She recounted her experience early in her career during the Soviet era, saying she did not know at the time she could bargain for better conditions.

To women of today she said: "Do not accept to be less paid than your colleague men, ever!"

The International Monetary Fund released a report on Tuesday which found that unpaid work "is a substantial part of economic activity that goes unmeasured and is shouldered disproportionally by women."

In fact, women do two hours more of unpaid work than men every day and even "in the most egalitarian countries in the world, women do at least 20 percent more unpaid work than men," notably chores around the home, the report said.

To address that issue, governments must invest in infrastructure, to provide water and electricity and internet access, but also provide services such as childcare and elder care, and improve education opportunities, to help women "replace unpaid work with paid work."

In more advanced economies, that means "implementing family-friendly policies such as parental leave and taxation of secondary earners, enhancing the efficiency of labor markets, and promoting flexible work arrangements."

But asked by one young woman how to achieve professional success, Georgieva offered no easy solutions:

"You have to be competent and to be more confident."

She also said quotas for hiring women in private firms were not a perfect solution "but it's pragmatic" since it could provide a faster path to gender equity in the workplace. Otherwise it will take a "very, very long time."

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IMF chief supports gender equality in pay
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she never knew she could negotiate for a higher salary. Photo: AFP / Olivier Douliery