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Weekly Chart: Women in the Workforce in Latin America and the Caribbean

March 01, 2017

Women's participation in the workforce may be down 2% globally—but it's up 14% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Where in Latin America's board rooms are women best represented? Colombia, at 14%, well above 6.4% average. @El_iG

Women’s participation in the global workforce has fallen 2 percent since 1990. But it’s a different case in Latin America and the Caribbean, where it’s jumped 14 points. The region saw women join the workforce at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world, adding up to 80 million more working women since the 1960s. 

More women joining the labor force can also translate to billions more in a country’s GDP. For example, UK-based auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that Chile’s GDP could see an increase of 19 percent—or $80 billion—if it were to match Sweden’s female employment rate, which stands at about 75 percent. 

Getting women into the workforce, however, and into top decision-making roles in companies is another story. Latin America lags behind other regions with only 6.4 percent of board seats held by women. At that pace, it’ll take until 2042 for women to make up 30 percent of board seats—a general threshold companies and governments consider when drafting legislation or goals. U.S. and Canadian businesses, on the other hand, are expected to get there by 2021.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2017 on March 8, we look at how the region fares.