Female workforce participation in Latin American and Caribbean curtailed – UN
Although the rate of female participation in the workforce in Latin America and the Caribbean is at an all-time high, women are still being prevented from reaching their economic potential by their child-rearing and caretaking responsibilities, as well as their low status in some countries, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
This was the main issue discussed as part of a UNFPA-organized event in Quito, Ecuador, called “Toward a New Social and Gender Pact: Shared Responsibility for Productive and Reproductive Work in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Nearly 60 per cent of the reasons given by women in the region for either not entering or leaving the job market are related to their roles as mothers and caregivers, according to a press release issued by UNFPA.
Marcela Suazo, UNFPA’s Director for the Division for Latin America and the Caribbean, said women’s salaries trail those of men by 20 to 30 per cent, despite the swelling numbers of employed women (about 33 million women entered the job market between 1990 and 2004).
The countries which are among the region’s poorest, have the highest birth rates, the largest informal economies and the weakest social policies – including Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Paraguay – are also the States with the highest female participation in the workforce.
In such countries, women form a disproportionately large portion of the informal sector, in which jobs are lower-paid and offer no benefits, such as health insurance and pension plans.
UNFPA said that statistically, there is a correlation between poverty and high birth rates, which curb women’s prospects to earn a better livelihood.
Ms. Suazo appealed for greater joint responsibility between men and women for caregiving, cautioning that population ageing in the region may result in an even greater need for caregivers.
The Quito meeting took place in conjunction with the four-day 10th Regional Conference on Women of Latin America and the Caribbean, held by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which wrapped up last week.