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Social Panorama of Latin America 2014

image of Social Panorama of Latin America 2014

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Gender inequality in the labour market and its impact on socioeconomic inequality: What gains could be made

In recent years, ECLAC has placed the issue of equality front and centre on the region’s agenda, setting forth a broad concept of equality whose scope extends beyond distributive justice to include subjects’ demands for recognition, dignity and autonomy (ECLAC, 2014). The autonomy of individuals is dependent on the range of options and resources that society makes available to them (Lechner, 2002). ECLAC has also highlighted the issue of equality between men and women, with an emphasis on the unpaid work performed by women within households, its economic value and how these activities prevent women from achieving economic autonomy and full integration into the labour market (ECLAC, 2013). In this context, a gender perspective is indispensable to analysing prevailing societal inequalities, and their interlinkages, as such an approach shines a spotlight on issues and stances that more traditional approaches hide under a ‘conceptual silence’ (Bakker, 1999). This breaks down the resistance to acknowledging that the labour market is a social space marked by asymmetries between men and women and one that reflects and perpetuates those same asymmetries (Rico and Marco, 2006). What is more, it also bestows conceptual and political significance on gender relations in terms of the functioning of the economy in general and the labour market in particular. Several studies have argued that the absence of a gender perspective impedes an understanding of the different positions of men and women as economic agents and subjects of economic policies (Giosa and Rodríguez, 2010), while also masking the role of unpaid domestic work as a factor that both conditions and sustains the labour market.

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