ILO Calls for Redoubling of Efforts to Close Work-Related Gender Gaps in the Region

ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Carlos Rodríguez says
inequalities should not be tolerated.

LIMA, Peru, Tuesday March 12, 2019 – During the
last 20 years the inclusion of women in the labour market has been sustained in
Latin America and the Caribbean, which has allowed 131 million women to participate
in the labour force. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender
equality in the region, the ILO has warned.

“Women
must play an important role in the future of the work we want, that is why the
region should redouble its efforts to close the gaps between women and
men,” said ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean,
Carlos Rodríguez, referring to labour market data that has highlighted the
persistence of inequality.

“The
labour participation of women has increased, but it is still 25 percentage
points lower than that of men. In contrast, the unemployment rate is three
percentage points higher. Other indicators tell us about lower salaries and
overrepresentation in informal employment that usually indicates precarious
working conditions,” he added.

Rodríguez
said that “these inequalities should not be tolerated when we are debating
how to guarantee the jobs of the future in a scenario marked by new
technologies, climate change, demographic aging and the effects of
globalization. That future, also must be written for women.”

Steps
must be taken to “develop programmes to adapt the capacities of women to
the demands of the new scenarios of the future of work.”

ILO
data indicate that the participation of women in labour markets is 51.7 per
cent, which is equivalent to 131 million people. This represents a considerable
advancement compared to the year 2000, when the rate was 47.3 per cent, which
was equivalent to 86 million. In 50 years, some 45 million women have joined
the workforce.

However,
this rate is still far from reaching that of men, which is 76.9 per cent, and
equivalent to 187 million people, according to the figures presented on
February 13 in the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2019.

Despite
the lower participation rate, women constitute half of the unemployed in Latin
America and the Caribbean, 12.7 million of the 25.5 million people in that
situation. The female unemployment rate expected in 2019, of 9.7 per cent, is
notably higher than 6.9 per cent of men, according to the ILO Outlook report.

On
the other hand, the ILO Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean for
2018, which was presented by the Regional Office in December, highlighted that
the challenge of gender equality is also rooted in salaries. It stands out that
between 2013 and 2017 the wages of women grew more than those of men
“however this was insufficient to close the wage gaps by gender.”

In
2012, women’s wages represented 79 per cent of men’s. Since then, progress has
been modest, up to 81 per cent in 2017, which implies a persistent income gap of
almost 20 percentage points.

“It
is necessary to be very clear about the commitment in the 2030 Agenda that was
adopted by the member countries of the UN, which intends to achieve equal
remuneration for work of equal value by that year,” Rodríguez added.

In
the case of informality, a document on “Women and men in the informal
economy” published by the ILO last year with global data, indicated that
in the case of Latin America, the average rate of this type of employment is
53, one per cent.

Although
male informality is higher worldwide, in this region the men’s rate of 52.3 per
cent is lower than the rate of women of 54.3 per cent. Women are the great
majority of the category of auxiliary family workers “who by definition
are informal”, and who usually do not receive remuneration for their work.

Regional
Economist for the ILO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Hugo Ñopo,
stressed that “the traditional variables linked to productivity
(education, age, economic sector, etc.) explain little of the wage gap between
men and women. Most of the salary differences are the result of variables that
are not yet systematically observed, such as unconscious biases, stereotypes
and discrimination.”

“Another
key area of gender differences is part-time work (30 hours per week or less).
The incidence of part-time work among women is 20 percentage points higher than
among men. These differences are the result of the different domestic
responsibilities of men and women,” he added.

Ñopo
considered that this reinforces the concept that “building a more
equitable world requires a cultural change.”

The
report ‘A quantum leap for gender equality: For a better future of work for all’,
which was released by the ILO last week, highlighted that the provision of care
continues to be the most important obstacle to advancing gender equality in the
world, and also mentions as an important factor penalties linked to motherhood.

The report makes a series of recommendations for countries to implement “a transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality.”

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