Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Can Latin America Create Better Job Options for Women?

Woman working in front of a computer. During the pandemic, women in Latin America and the Caribbean have lost jobs at higher rates than have men. // File Photo: Mexican Government.

The Covid-19 pandemic will set back Latin American and Caribbean women’s participation in the work force by a decade, according to a new report by the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The rate of female employment in the region fell to 46 percent in 2020 from 52 percent a year earlier, while the rate for men dropped to 69 percent from 73.6 percent over the same period. What are the most significant factors explaining the plunge in the women’s employment rate last year, and what consequences does the drop have for the regional economy and social dynamics? Are the underlying reasons for the decline temporary or structural? Is the trend likely to be reversed soon, and what tools do governments have to create good job opportunities and, ultimately, better well-being for women?


Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the United Nations Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC): “Latin American labor markets have been characterized by a structural segmentation that has traditionally concentrated women in sectors of the economy with lower wages and more precarious working conditions. Before the pandemic, one in two women were working in sectors of greater risk in terms of job loss and drop in income. The closure of borders, restrictions on mobility and the fall in international trade have had a strong impact on women as workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism and manufacturing sectors. Paid domestic work, which employed one in 10 women in the region, was one of the hardest hit, with one in two women in this sector in some countries…”

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The Inter-American Dialogue publishes the Latin America Advisor every business day for a distinguished membership of informed corporate leaders, scholars, and government officials invested in Latin America’s development and future. The Advisor‘s highly regarded Q&A section covers questions submitted by subscribers themselves. Commentators regularly include heads of state, business leaders, diplomats, economists, analysts, and thought leaders from around the world. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies subscribe to the Advisor. To subscribe click here or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at

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