How Could Labor Conditions Improve for Women in Mexico?By Alessa Flores | Sun, 03/08/2020 - 09:00
In Mexico, only four of every 10 women participate in the labor market, according to Nadine Gasman, President of Inmujeres. This rate goes down to 30 percent in rural areas and to 20 percent in indigenous areas. Moreover, the country suffers from a structural discrimination problem as salary disparity between men and women reaches 34 percent. This is significantly above the OECD average of 23 percent. According to Minister of Labor and Social Welfare María Luisa Alcalde, to end this gender gap “the country must guarantee and promote fair and equal conditions for female development.” However, what does this mean? How can labor conditions improve in the country and what can women do to boost this change?
We must remember that as part of the private sector, we are in a privileged position. However, we cannot remain enclosed in our bubble as most women do not enjoy even the basic rights in their labor contract. Mexico remain one of the countries with the largest wage disparity and the least support toward working mothers. Managerial positions are hardly occupied by women and most beneficiaries of loans for investment are still men. We cannot live in a country that does not respect the talent and power of the female population. As women, we must prepare and know our rights when signing a contract and companies have the obligation to grant us this benefit. The biggest impact we could generate in the short term comes from union and sorority, through support among and toward women in the private sector. We must listen and be heard among our colleagues without judgement, teach and learn, which will not only help us as individuals but as a group. We must ditch the belief that women generate conflict among themselves and start creating the mindset that women also build strong and talented teams.
There needs to be a change in mindset to truly understand that our capabilities as women are equal to those of men. Macho attitudes need to disappear, as well as all paradigms related to the roles that women can or cannot play successfully. In my role as HR Manager, I have had the luck to be able to defend many female candidates to occupy similar positions to men. It is important to work directly with some women so they can learn how to empower themselves, to believe in their own capabilities and to not be victims of the macho culture in which we live in. Currently, I am lucky to be in an inclusive company where there is no discrimination toward women.
I think companies should take proactive actions to not only ensure there is an equitable distribution of roles between men and women, but to also ensure women have the support, guidance and acceptance to occupy managerial positions. Moreover, it is important to ensure that, at all levels, women are paid the same as men for the same job. In case a woman is harassed or attacked, the company should support her and make sure the aggressor is hold accountable and faces consequences. In my case, I like to organize attendance to feminist meetings and propose ways to make my school and my workplace a better place for women.
Respect for women should be taught, not only toward family members but in all aspects of a person’s life, including their job. If there is an environment of respect toward women, this should prevent harassment and other forms of violence. It is also important for company managers to support women when they are victims of violence at work and to take action against the person responsible. From my side, I am always aware of my surroundings and raise my voice when a woman is in trouble and needs me.
We need a solid basis of better education, from elementary to university levels. This would show to the world and to ourselves that we have the right capabilities; it would give us self-confidence and would push us to be better and to do better. Sometimes, need forces us to take the first job offer that comes around. This is especially true among mothers or women that share household expenses with their partners. However, fights like the one we are going through create awareness among executives and companies to be fairer. It is increasingly frequent to hear that women have to boost and recognize each other. However, this also has to be equitable for all people and each person has to be recognized for their capabilities. For the first time, I am in a position where I am recognized and heard professionally, which motivates me to boost and support my female coworkers. This has also helped me to take control of my basic responsibilities to improve my work and gradually show my value and right to demand more from my company.
As women, we must be active participants in transforming our role in society. This includes having a relevant presence in power platforms and decision-making positions. We require policies that promote employment without considering a gender more important than the other. We also need to avoid practices like “mansplaining” and to educate our community in practices like communication and constant self-questioning. There should also be more spaces for dialog between women where we can grow as a group, detaching ourselves from the gender competition that has been imposed, and where we can show how sorority and teamwork can bring professional success for women, companies and society. I am always in communication and cooperation with my female coworkers and try each day to support, motivate and learn from all of them. In the oil and gas industry, a traditionally male sector, we have created visibility spaces for women in the industry where they can show their contribution to social and economic development.
We need gender perspective. Women’s labor conditions in Mexico are related to a mix of ideas and representations of gender, stereotypes and roles that have been assigned to people depending on their gender at birth. It is through these cultural representations that we also falsely attribute differentiated abilities to men and women. From this stems sexual division of work, subordination and female discrimination in the work place. Two years ago, several girl friends and I created a group where we read, discuss and educate ourselves in gender perspective, feminism, deconstruction and non-violence, among other subjects. Our group is growing and we seek that through personal and social education, our interaction with the environment, our relationships and our workplaces become safer, fruitful and free of the old and useless social order.