117 million women form part of the labour force in Latin America and the Caribbean

The employment rate exceeded 50% for the first time, however it is still well below that of men. Female unemployment is also higher and the salary gap is 15%, noted the Regional Director of the ILO for the Americas and Caribbean in a declaration on International Women’s Day.

News | 08 March 2018
Lima – In Latin America and the Caribbean there are 117 million women who form part of the workforce, resulting in an unstoppable phenomenon of persistent growth in the employment rates in a labour market in which, nonetheless, “we are still far from the goal of gender equality”, commented the Regional Director of the ILO, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.

“There’s still a long way to go in the journey towards equality”, he added while citing most recent data compiled for the region, in a declaration released on the occasion of International Women’s Day which raises the question of information on disparities in access to labour markets must be considered as “a call to action”.

“Bridging the gaps is not only a means of guaranteeing that no one is left behind but it is a means of advancing towards greater social justice. It is key to taking advantage of significant untapped potential for economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean”, says Salazar.

Towards the end of 2017, for the first time there was an employment rate of women of more than 50 per cent, reaching 50.2 per cent. This was considered as an unprecedented figure in the labour markets of the region. However, as is the case in other regions of the world, such participation is not sufficient to bridge the existing gaps.

The employment rate of women is almost 25 percentage points with the rate of the men, which is 74.4 per cent, according to the latest data from the ILO’s Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The difference is also consistent with the employment rate which registers job postings. Women showed a rate of 45 per cent, while the rate of males was more than 20 points above at 68 per cent.

“In considering unemployment, there are differences which point to a persistent gap”, said Salazar. The rate of female unemployment for the first time in a decade exceeded double digits at a rate of about 10.4 per cent equivalent to 1.4 times the rate of men.

In spite of having a lower participation rate in the labour market, women account for practically half of the unemployed: 13 million out of a total of 26 million.

Salazar also made reference to a salary gap between men and women. According to the latest data compiled by the ILO, this divide dropped about 5 percentage points between 2005 and 2015, but remains at 15 per cent.

“Knowing this data is key to understanding the trends and dimensions of the challenges that we face”, noted the ILO Regional Director. “The list of tasks to bridge all these gaps is long and it necessarily begins with the need to insist on policies to combat the stereotypes which still prevail in many areas of work”.

He added that special measures to improve labour integration of women are important, such as the equality laws or clauses of collective conventions to guarantee equality in remuneration for jobs of equal value between men and women.

In the declaration disseminated today Salazar also noted the need to intervene in education and vocational training policies to avoid the disconnect with the labour market demands, putting special emphasis on the most pertinent areas for incorporating women, including training in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and those aimed at supporting enterprises.

For more information:

The data cited in this article are extracted from the ILO Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean 2017. Absolute estimates are based on the most recent projections from CELADE-Population Division of ECLAC

Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean 2017

For further information please contact:

Gennike Mayers | mayersg@ilo.org | +1 (868) 623 7178/ 7704 ext 412

Averlon Toussaint | toussaint@ilo.org | +1 (868) 623 7178/ 7704 ext 411