The UNU-WIDER project on Women’s work — routes to economic and social empowerment presents at the 29th IAFFE Annual Conference (Quito, Ecuador) held virtually between 22 – 25 June 2021.  UNU-WIDER will present a panel discussion on 25 June from 20:30 to 22:00 (Helsinki, UTC+2) | 12:30 - 14:00 (Quito). 

Register for the session | View the conference programme

Structure and drivers of the quantity and quality of women’s work in Latin America

Chairs: Maria C. Lo Bue and Kunal Sen (UNU-WIDER, Finland)

Presenter(s): Elissa Braunstein (Colorado State University, USA) | A macro–micro analysis of gender segregation and job quality in Latin America

María Edo (Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina) | Motherhood and flexible jobs — Evidence from Latin American countries

Manuel Fernández Sierra (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) | The rise in women’s labour force participation in Mexico — Supply vs demand factors

Pia Rattenhuber (UNU-WIDER, Finland) | What explains the gender gap in top incomes in developing countries? Evidence from Ecuador


Recent progress in narrowing gender gaps in education, health, and political representation has not been matched by similar improvements in labour market outcomes for women, or more broadly, women’s economic empowerment. Global data shows that there has been no increase in the female labour force participation rate (FLFP) and no decrease in the wage and employment gap between men and women. Women typically occupy the worst-paid jobs with the least protection and attitudes toward gender often hinder access to better opportunities.

For women to be economically and socially empowered, it is necessary to increase both the quantity and quality of jobs for women, and address gender barriers in accessing job opportunities and segregation in labour markets. Furthermore, the achievement of gender equality in labour market outcomes critically depends on the adoption of policies that address the ‘double burden’ that low-income women in particular face — earning income for the family as well as caring for other household members.

This panel explores some key questions related to the essence and evolution of women’s work in the Latin American region:

  • How do demand- and supply-side factors contribute to improvements in labour force participation for women?
  • What are the determinants of gender-based occupational segregation?
  • How does motherhood impact women’s work and occupational choices?
  • How much progress have women achieved in making gains to their position in the income distribution?