Challenges and opportunities for gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Challenges and opportunities for gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Women's labour force participation in Latin America and the Caribbean

This study highlights that while women in the Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant advances with regard to equality, traditional social patterns continue to undermine their participation in the labour market, and hinder the ability of households to escape from poverty. Women have made significant improvements in education and access to the labour market, but the report indicates that there is much to be done with regard to poverty and social exclusion, reproductive health care and protection from domestic violence.

The study describes the most important changes in the condition of women in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past two decades and the challenges, both by region and by country. The study's findings include:

  • in Latin America and the Caribbean, the participation of women in the labour market continues to be much lower than that of men
  • although the salary divide between genders has narrowed considerably in many countries such as Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico, women earn less than men in all countries of the region with the exception of Costa Rica
  • factors contributing to this phenomenon include the large-scale participation of women in the service sector, which is generally the most poorly paid sector of the economy
  • this situation is all the more acute for rural women, since they also deal with high fertility rates, a high number of dependents and lack of access to land
  • women, especially older women and heads of household, are more vulnerable to poverty.

To address these issues, the report suggests that international policy makers must create policies and programmes aimed at redressing gender inequalities, since they will benefit not only women, but their families and the Latin American society as a whole.

Note: This paper is the summary of a longer report. To read the full report click on the link under further information.

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