By Ingrid Fernandez
A recent United Nations (UN) report reveals that many women still face staggering inequalities in the workplace and it is slowing down progress in the Caribbean.
The UN is concerned that work opportunities are spreading unequally in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The UN’s 2015 Human Development report stated that to contain the problem, the region needs to focus on balancing the talents of women and men to close the widening inequality gaps caused by disparities in employment opportunities and income distribution.
One of the major concerns is that women’s work often goes unpaid. The report says women perform the most unpaid work worldwide. This is largely due to the nature of work that women are relegated to: household and childcare. Globally, women perform three out of every four hours of unpaid work.
Director of the UN Developmental Program and Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jessica Faieta, said for women in Latin America and the Caribbean, the challenges of working outside the home and caring for their children are tripled.
The UN recommended shared responsibilities in the household and also in child-caring, in order for women to have a fair chance to occupy the work place.
The report strongly recommends equal payment, prioritizing parental leave, and tackling the stigma and social norms that working women face.
At the work place, similar disparities arise, the report noted. Women earn 24 percent less than men on a global scale.
Various factors influence the amount of time women can put into the workplace. Women are able to perform only one hour of work for every two performed by men, the report said.
Figures show the “glass ceiling” is still impenetrable in Latin America and the Caribbean. Women earn 19 percent less than men and are less likely to occupy senior management positions. More than half of all businesses in the region do not have women in senior management positions.
When it comes to salaries, the figures show undeniable inequality, according to the report. According to the Inter-American Developmental Bank (IDB), women top managers earn, on average, half as much as top managers who are men.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, the report cites that particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, women-headed businesses do not survive long enough to become established businesses.
Reports show that in all regions; income, longevity and education are lower for women that for men.
To help mitigate and improve these statistics, the region is trying to establish foundations to make it easier for the next generation of women.
The region has made significant progress in providing equal education for both genders and has the smallest gender schooling disparity.
Female parliament representation is higher in Latin America and the Caribbean, at 27 percent, than in the rest of the world, at 21.8 percent.
The report recommends legislation to galvanize gender inequality in the workplace.
It suggests that the government, society and the private sector should collaborate to ensure that all people in the workplace have their needs taken into account.
The report also called on workplaces to provide decent working conditions for workers to develop with dignity.