Closing Gender Gaps in the World of Work: Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic

Accesible PDF image
Aug 2021
In the region in question, the world of work is marked by wide gender gaps that exceed the Latin America and the Caribbean average, yet few studies have looked at the reasons for this. The report draws on the findings of the IDB on the determinants of the female labor supply and the gender gaps in these countries, and proposes specific solutions tailored to the reality of the region. The report also describes the IDBs work in implementing projects aimed at promoting gender equality in the region.

A whole range of factors (socio-demographic, economic, institutional, cultural, and personal) underlie a woman's seemingly straightforward decision to go out to work or look for a job, factors that operate in distinct ways over the course of her life as the relevance of each changes. Particularly important to the dynamics of FLFP and the career paths of women in the region are the heavy burden of unpaid work placed on them as result of living with a partner and caring for small children, their role as secondary breadwinners, and their own individual characteristics, such as their age and level of education. Similarly, there are certain intangible barriers that condition women's prospects within the labor market (e.g., glass ceilings or cultural perspectives) and their progress towards positions of leadership in business and politics, as well as various other limitations of an institutional nature that perpetuate differences in employment rights.

In recent years, there has been a decline in momentum in the efforts towards closing the gender gaps in the labor market, and as things stand, the risk of the advances made so far being reversed is significant. On the one hand, sectors in which women constitute a major share of the workforce have been more severely hit by the global COVID-19 health crisis, while the types of jobs they do there are susceptible to processes of automation and digitalization. In this context, the region is currently facing major challenges that now more than ever necessitate the advancement of a policy agenda with gender equality at its core.