How Do Latin American Countries Compare for Labor Laws Fostering Gender Equality?

Peru is the region’s country with the best labor laws in favor of women’s economic opportunities, according to a World Bank report

Source: Argentine government.
March 02, 2023 | 04:32 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — Women’s access to the workforce remains restricted compared to their male counterparts, according to the World Bank’s ninth Women, Business and the Law 2023 report, and which shows that labor laws are equittive for both men and women in just 14 countries.

The report contains eight indicators concerning the interaction of women with labor laws as they advance in their lives and careers:

  • Mobility: Examines limitations on freedom of movement.
  • Workplace: Analyzes laws that affect women’s decision to work
  • Wages: Legislative and regulatory measures affecting women’s pay
  • Marriage: Evaluates legal constraints related to marriage
  • Parenthood: Examines laws affecting women’s work after childbearing
  • Entrepreneurship: Analyzes the constraints women face in starting and running businesses
  • Wealth: Considers gender differences in property ownership and inheritance
  • Pension: Evaluates the laws that affect the amount of a woman’s pension.

How does Latin America rank globally?

The score of this ranking goes from 0 to 100, and the only countries that achieve the ideal score are Germany, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

The average worldwide score is 77.1, while the Latin America and Caribbean region scores 80.9. The countries of the region are ranked as folllows:

  • Peru: 95 points
  • Paraguay: 94.4
  • Costa Rica: 91.9
  • Ecuador: 89.4
  • Bolivia: 88.8
  • El Salvador: 88.8
  • Mexico: 88.8
  • Uruguay: 88.8
  • Guyana: 86.9
  • Dominican Republic: 86.3
  • Nicaragua: 86.3

Considering the main Latin American economies, the worst positioned is Argentina (79.4), although Chile does not enjoy a good position either, with 80.4 points.

The region’s largest economy, Brazil, has an above-average score (85 points), as do Venezuela (85 points) and Colombia (84.4).

Among the Spanish-speaking countries in the region, Panama (79.4), Honduras (75) and Guatemala (73.8) are also below the regional average.


The Caribbean country with the worst labor conditions for women is Haiti, with 61.3 points.

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Which Latin American countries have the lowest ranking?

Bloomberg Línea looked at the countries with the lowest rankings, below the regional average (80.9 points) to determine in which indicator women are falling behind in terms of being served by their country’s labor laws:

  • Chile: The lowest score is for wealth (60 out of 100)
  • Argentina: Salaries had a low score (50 points) and motherhood scored 60
  • Panama: Pensions and salaries scored only 50 points
  • Honduras: Motherhood scored just 20 points
  • Guatemala: Workplace scored just 25 points out of a possible 100

Global conclusions

The World Bank noted that “90 million working-age women achieved legal equality in the last decade. However, 2.4 billion working-age women do not have the same legal rights as men. More than half live in East Asia and the Pacific (710 million) and South Asia (610 million), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (330 million), the high-income countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (260 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (210 million), the Middle East and North Africa (150 million), and Europe and Central Asia (140 million).”

Source: Banco Mundialdfd

On a global scale, 44 economies in six regions score above 90 points. Of these, 28 are in the OECD, seven are in Europe and Central Asia, three are in East Asia and the Pacific, and three are in Latin America and the Caribbean.


In 2022, one economy in the Middle East and Northern Middle East and North Africa region (Malta) and two economies in the Sub-Saharan Africa region (Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon) also exceed 90 points for the first time. No economy in the South Asia region has achieved a score of 90.

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More poverty among women than men

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in 2019 in Latin America and the Caribbean for every 100 men living in poor households in the region there were 112.7 women in a similar situation. This, for the agency, “evidences the lack of economic autonomy of women, who in the absence of other household income are more likely to be in poverty, a situation that is exacerbated in households with a greater presence of children.”

Although there is no subsequent aggregate data at the regional level, the country-by-country analysis in a 2022 ECLAC report states: “The reduction in poverty observed in 2021 did not contribute to reducing gender gaps. The femininity index of poverty only decreased in Panama, while in the other countries it remained constant or tended to increase”.

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