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Analysis

Mexico’s Gender Parity Score Improves Despite Regional Stagnation

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Thu, 08/25/2022 - 10:42

While the global gender gap has not bounced back from the significant damage incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico made modest, yet sustained progress towards gender parity in 2022, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022. Chiefly responsible for this advancement is the prioritization of this issue at a parliamentary level. Still, undercutting the country’s overall score are legacy pain points related to economic participation and opportunity.

“Sustainable and inclusive economic growth can only be achieved if gender equality constitutes a cornerstone of the public and private sector work agenda, particularly in the (labor) market. Employment with a focus on gender equality is essential for growth and is one of the pillars of (the Inter-American Development Bank’s) Vision 2025,” said Ernesto Stein, IDB’s Country Representative, Mexico.

Mexico experienced a dramatic regression in women’s labor force participation in 2020, mainly due to social conventions that pushed women toward homemaking, child rearing and caretaking roles at the expense of their jobs or careers. This shock, compounded by other sociopolitical setbacks generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including disproportionate job loss, diminished earned income and macroeconomic stagnation, tacked on another decade before the country and the wider Latin American and Caribbean region is expected to reach gender parity, according to current projections. “Within the region, only six of the 22 countries indexed in this edition improved their gender gap score by at least one percentage point since last year,” reads IDB’s report.

Mexico fell just short of this criterion, indicating a mild stagnation in its score, but at least it did not observe a deterioration in its overall score as experienced by five countries in the region. Registering a modest growth of 0.7 percentage points, Mexico received a gender parity score of 76.4 percent, a boost that allowed the country to climb three places in the global index to rank 31st among the 146 countries assessed. Overall, this places Mexico fourth in the region after Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Barbados, with respective scores of 81 percent, 79.6 percent and 76.5 percent. Meanwhile, Peru, ranking 37th, made the greatest progress in the region with a registered growth of 2.8 percentage points, inflating its index score to 74.9 percent. At the other end, Colombia suffered the greatest decline, 1.5 percentage points, but still ranks well above the lowest performers in the region.

 

A Closer Look

Of the four benchmarks assessed, Mexico continues to severely underperform in economic participation and opportunity, ranking 113th globally and second to last among Latin American and Caribbean countries. Nonetheless, even with a score of 59.7 percent, Mexico managed to ascend nine positions, albeit only because other countries suffered severe contractions in this subindex.  As evidenced by recorded performance, economic participation and opportunity has been a consistent pain point for Mexico, specifically pay equity, in which it currently ranks 124th with a reduced score of 49.7 percent from 2021, putting the country among the three lowest scores in Latin America. For this reason, despite apparently reducing the gender gap on estimated earned income by 1.2 percentage points, it is only on the account that earnings were disproportionately reduced for men by -10.3 percent compared to -8.1 percent for women.

“It is important to note that women’s earnings represent only half of men’s estimated earnings in 2022, meaning there are still important economic barriers to gender parity,” reads the report.

Regarding labor force participation, Mexico ranked 123rd with another diminished score of 58.1 percent, just three spots ahead of the lowest percentile. At the same time, women have taken on significantly more unpaid domestic and carework, ballooning from 2.74 in 2021 to 8.34, at a difference of 3.91 for men. The intersection of these indicators and a sputtering economic recovery likely explain women’s reliance on the informal economy, in which they constitute 57.1 percent of the labor market. Conversely, even for women that have managed to remain in the formal sector, biases continue to keep women in lower positions within their organizations. At a national level, the advancement of women in leadership roles stands at a best value of 3.68 of 7 with a 10.6 percent participation in executive boards. Overall, these indicators point to multiple failures at both the private and public spheres to generate the optimal working conditions needed to bolster greater female participation in the workforce.

“In face of a weak recovery, government and business must make two sets of efforts: targeted policies to support women’s return to the workforce and women’s talent development in the industries of the future. Otherwise, we risk eroding the gains of the last decades permanently and losing out on the future economic returns of diversity,” says Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum (WEF).

 

Correcting Course

To revert and correct these negative tendencies, the Mexican government turned to WEF and IDB to launch a gender parity initiative meant to augment women’s participation in the workforce, include more women in economic leadership positions and close gender gaps, according to a news release. With this decision Mexico joins a global learning network of gender parity accelerators already established in 12 countries around the world. These accelerators take the form of public-private collaboration platforms meant to help governments and businesses take decisive action to close economic gender gaps. In the Mexican context, the initiative's objectives will also be aligned with the pillar of inclusion in Mexico’s trade policy and the work that the Ministry of Economy carries out within the framework of a 2030 Agenda outlined by WEF and IDB.

“The implementation of the Gender Parity Initiative in Mexico represents a great step forward in the national effort to close the economic gender gap. Gender equality in the economy will not only benefit women but will also have a positive effect on the national economy,” said Tatiana Clouthier, Mexico’s Minister of Economy.

 

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
World Economic Forum, International Labor Organization
Photo by:   Cinthya A. Salazar
Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst