More women are entering the workforce across Latin America, with an increase of 11 percent in the last 30 years, according to new study published by the United Nations on Monday, Oct. 28.
The research- conducted jointly by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), spotlights the array of factors influencing women’s labor participation in the region, while highlighting the social and economic benefits of women in the workforce.
Women’s access to paid opportunities, and the narrowing of gender gaps are “crucial for growth, equality and poverty reduction in the region,” the authors said in the study.
Despite a closing disparity between the number of working men versus women, the new figures demonstrate that the gap between women’s labor participation versus that of men still amounts to more than 25 percent on average.
Moreover, a deeper dive into pay scale shows that for each hour worked, women’s earnings are on average 17 percent below those of men of the same age, education and economic status.
Large differences also exist among countries in the region when it comes to pace of growth, and the levels of female participation achieved, with figures lagging significantly in developing countries.
In 2018 overall, over half of all women (aged 15 or over) in 18 countries in the region were working, with Peru taking the lead at 68.7 percent, followed by Bolivia with 63 percent, and among the lowest, Costa Rica at 45.1 percent, and 43.5 percent in Mexico.
One of the main factors underpinning a growing working female population is higher education, the study said, with a positive correlation between number of school years completed and rates of labor participation.
In Peru, for example, 90 percent of women with advanced education (which, in this case, refers to schooling beyond high school level) were working, and 80 percent in Venezuela, with similar correlations in neighboring countries.
The gaps can be attributed to an array of circumstances, from national economic status, to social and cultural expectations, the report said, and it is “crucial” to take into account that the decision to work, in turn, has an impact on other facets of life.
Thanks to technology, equal access to education, declining fertility rates and greater levels of average income have levied the time needed to carry out domestic tasks, which have all contributed to greater participation of working women in the region, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena said.