2. A holistic policy framework for achieving a balanced sharing of paid and unpaid work

As discussed in Chapter 1, a combination of societal, institutional and economic factors stands behind the higher unpaid work burden of women, which weakens their economic outcomes. Policy changes and a gradual shift in attitudes have practically eliminated gender gaps in basic education and reduced those in the labour market.

Nonetheless, women in Peru continue to be less frequently employed; to more frequently work in the informal sector; to steer away from better-paid STEM careers; and to earn lower wages than men earn. With the welfare and income gains of reducing these gaps being potentially substantial for both men and women, a more equitable division of paid and unpaid work represents a high priority policy concern.

Given the interplay between different drivers, a holistic policy framework is needed to achieve a more balanced sharing of paid and unpaid work in Peru. For practical descriptive reasons, it is useful to structure such a broad approach using two policy axes:

  • On the one hand, the policies aimed at reducing the barriers that currently stand in the way of achieving a more equitable division of time and responsibilities between men and women, and

  • On the other hand, the policies that aim at fostering the participation of women in the labour market through ensuring that women’s paid work pays more.

The first axis consists of the policies to reduce the overall amount of unpaid work that families have to carry out, as well as to tackle the hurdles that make it difficult for couples to share unpaid and paid work more equally. Key examples of specific areas within this axis are the policies aimed at the expansion of the public care system for both children and the elderly; introducing or strengthening the regulations governing parental leaves and flexible work regulations; and the promotion of gender-neutral approaches at all levels of education.

The second policy axis spots light on the policies that help reducing the gender gap in labour income and that lessen the incentive for women to spend long hours on unpaid work and can free more hours, in turn, that they can destine to paid work. These policies include addressing the barriers for all groups of girls to access quality education; increasing the opportunities of women to find a job of higher quality in the formal labour market; promoting women careers, including in leadership positions; strengthening gender equality in business entrepreneurship; and fighting violence against women in public spaces and the workplace.

Figure 2.1 provides the diagrammatic illustration of the policy framework and its components. The two policy axes are mutually reinforcing: the interplay of positive policy changes across each of them has the potential to significantly increase the number of women who could and would like to work outside the home as well as the number of men willing to take over caring and domestic tasks.

While not the only policies that contribute to these changes, the specific areas addressed in this chapter emerged as the most relevant, in terms of both potential impact and feasibility, during a project’s fact-finding mission to Lima. The reminder of the chapter reviews each area in details starting with an assessment of the challenges and existing policies. A discussion of policy insights completes the analysis of each area, building on the lesson from the international experience and the OECD knowledge of international practices. While there is a general need to ensure that policies and programmes benefit all women, many of the policy recommendations addressed focus on the needs of some population groups more particularly, including indigenous women and women living in remote areas. The key policy insights of each policy area are summarised in Box 2.2 and Box 2.3.

The long-term educational and social benefits of early childhood education are well established. The available studies show that these benefits are particularly relevant for vulnerable children (Nores and Barnett, 2010[1]; Heckman et al., 2010[2]). Peru has a long tradition of non-formal early childhood education programmes. The pioneer of these programmes, the PROPEDEINE programme, also known with the original names of Wawa Wasis and Wawa Uta (children’s houses in Quechua and Aymara languages, respectively), dates back to the late 1960s (Llanos, 2015[3]). At the time, poverty rates were very high among children and mothers in the most deprived areas of the country, particularly the Andes and the rural regions. They materialised in widespread malnutrition and both high infant and maternal mortality rates.

The aim of these programmes was to develop community-based services and awareness raising campaigns for improved health and nutrition by relying on the support of native volunteers. Locally hired Animadores (Facilitators) underwent courses in such areas as motor, language and socialisation development for children between 3 and 5 years old. With the requirement being that at a minimum the Animadores had a primary education degree (5 years of schooling), men ended up playing a prominent role as facilitators because at that time most women born in Peru’s remote villages were illiterate.

The early childhood care system has evolved since the establishment of Wawa Wasis and Wawa Uta. In 2012, the Ministry of Social Development and Inclusions’ (MIDIS) launched Cuna Más, a large-scale programme for the development of children aged below three years and living in poverty through improving families’ childrearing. At the same time, day-care services (Servicio de Cuidado Diurno) provide comprehensive care to children between 6 and 36 months living in marginalised urban areas. In rural communities, a home visiting service (Servicio de Acompañamiento a Familias) delivers individual weekly visits and monthly group sessions for children under three along their primary caregivers and pregnant women. Experimental impact evaluation of the home visiting services provided by Cuna Más, concludes that home visitors are often poorly trained and receive little feedback, despite the fact that they are generally requested to master specific competencies and to interact on sensitive issues (Araujo, Dormal and Rubio-Codina, 2018[4]). Addressing these gaps is important to enhance the quality of intervention with improving the communication between caregivers and the children a key requirement (Rothstein et al., 2021[5]).

Turning the attention to children of pre-school age, between 3 and 5 years old, Peru relies on two categories of mandatory services targeting the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Children from densely populated urban areas go to the Centros de Educación Inicial (CEI, Initial Education Centres, also called Jardines, gardens), which are formal establishments. At the same time, children living in marginalised urban and rural areas, not having access to Jardines, enrol in PRONOEI, a public programme with a strong community-based vocation. Unlike Jardines, who relies on certified teachers, most PRONOEI’s teachers are mothers from community villages who have received a training in child development and learning from a certified teacher hired by the Ministry of Education.

Assessment of the two programmes reveals that primary school achievements are generally poorer for pupils previously enrolled in PRONOEI (Cueto et al., 2016[6]). Beyond gaps in service quality, this outcome reflects, at least in part, unobserved characteristics of the children and their families, such as the parents’ education – which typically associate to parenting capacity (Diaz, 2006[7]). Some observers have concluded that supporting the teachers through comprehensive training, including on how to engage with parents, would be a key to increasing the quality of PRONOEI (Cueto et al., 2016[6]).

Access to care services for girls and boys is uneven, particularly among children aged between 0 and 2 years. For girls and boys in this age bracket coverage is 12.4%, which compares with 86% among girls and boys between 3 and 5 years (María Amparo Cruz-Saco, 2016[8]). Such a wide difference in coverage reflects the fact that universal education begins at the age of three years in Peru. In addition, regardless to the age of the children, coverage varies significantly across geographical areas and is particularly low in the poorest and most needy areas of the country. For example, recent figures show that the home visiting service capacity of PRONOEI approximates 85 000 families, corresponding to about 32% of the target rural population. PRONOEI operates in about 580 out of 713 eligible districts (Early Childhood Workforce Initiative, 2017[9]).

Empirical evidence suggests that childcare programmes have helped increasing the number of hours that women in Peru spend working for a pay in the labour market. Young mothers under the age of 25, whose children benefit from Cuna Más work on average six more hours per week for pay (García and Collantes, 2018[10]). However, the low availability of public and private day care services implies that many mothers of young children still have to stay at home. Those who opt to work, although they lack access to the service, continue to depend upon the support of other family members, such as the grandmothers or grandaunts. Other families hire domestic care workers, many of whom are indigenous women and earn low wages. While higher-income households are more likely to hire domestic workers, a report notes that lower-middle income households also employ domestic workers, often without registering them (Fuertes Medina, Rodríguez and Casali, 2013[11]).

In Peru, as in the rest of Latin America, older adults are growing rapidly as a proportion of the total population. More than 3 million people are over 60 years old, corresponding to about 10% of the population (UNFPA, n.d.[12]). In 2050, this population is projected to reach 8.7 million (about 20% of the population). Four out of every ten Peruvian households have at least one elderly person (over 60 years old) and six out of ten older adults are heads of the household. Caring for the elderly, ill and disabled adults will be more and more challenging for families in Peru, given that the proportion of people who have difficulty performing basic daily activities, such as cooking, clothing or bathing themselves, increases with age (MIMP, 2012[13]). In addition, population ageing compounds the effects of non-communicable diseases such as depression and heart disease (Gianluca Cafagna et al., 2019[14]). Recent work on adults aged 50 years and older, using the 2017 Peru Demographic and Familiar Health Survey (Barboza et al., 2020[15]), found that 5% of the study population had a disability and 43.3% was screened positive for depression (13.2% for moderately severe or severe depression).

Some vulnerable old adults can find assistance in the residential and outpatient care centres for seniors, the Centro Atención para Personas Adultas Mayores, of which there are about 80 in Peru and primarily located in the urban areas. However, in most cases the burden of care responsibilities falls on the families – directly, each time a family member takes up the caring responsibility, or indirectly, when the family hires a domestic worker, or stands the cost of the placement of the relative in a private institution.

The cost, time, emotional and physical burden of becoming an informal carer for an adult typically far exceeds the costs associated to the caring of a child. While women in the highest income quintile devote to the caring of children and teenagers about three hours less than women in the lowest income quintile, the difference in the hours spent on caring for household members with physical or mental difficulties, or who are elderly, increases to more than nine hours (Freyre Valladolid and López Mendoza, 2011[16]). While higher-income households can afford to outsource elderly care services, lower and middle-income households have no other choice than to provide the care themselves.

Without access to any professional support to care for their elderly or disabled relatives, informal family carers are generally unprepared and overloaded. This puts at risk the mental and physical health conditions of both carers and dependent individuals (Michelle Ferng, 2014[17]), which, in extreme cases, can fuel violence against elderly persons. Available surveys of older women and men report that discrimination based on age is common (HelpAge, 2013[18]), with up to a quarter of seniors having felt mistreated in some way during the previous year, according to an epidemiological study for Lima and Callao (MIMDES, 2005[19]).

Addressing the lack of public early education and care programmes is a pillar of Peru’s National Policy for Gender Equity (see Chapter 1, Box 1.2). Congress recently considered the establishment of a National Care System, which would regulate public and private childcare provisions and set out a coverage target of 30% for children aged between 0 and 2 years in urban areas. Moreover, it would define care as a right. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations is working at the creation of a regulatory framework and tools that will enable advancing with the implementation of a National Care System. A nursery bill foresaw that private and public companies with at least ten employees would have to provide day care services. However, financing considerations suggest that the costs for the firm sector of implementing such a system might be non-negligible. On the other hand, the costs for the public sector of expanding the pre-school childcare system are also potentially important. For example, estimates of the combined cost for Peru of achieving universal childcare and education for 3-5 year-olds and 40% coverage for 0-2 year-olds suggest that such an expansion would approximate 1.4% of GDP (Cruz-Saco, Pérez and Seminario, 2016[20]).

Explore flexible options for implementing employer-supported childcare: Peru’s policy makers have recently considered different options to engage the employer sector in the provision of childcare services. One such options requires mandating all firms above a certain size threshold to secure the services to their employees. A 2019 draft bill sets the threshold at 50 employees overall – men and women combined – to avoid creating a disincentive on the hiring of women. The scope of the reform has changed subsequently, with the requirement no longer applying when 20% of the workers are mothers, fathers or other caregivers of children under age of three.

Representatives of the business sector, seconded by numerous Peruvian policy makers, have expressed concerns about the introduction of a rule-based approach, claiming that it would impose serious cost overruns on companies. Examples of emerging economies which statutory require employers to provide or support childcare include Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, India, Jordan and Turkey (IFC, 2017[21]). Among these countries, Chile is currently abandoning the statutory approach in favour of a more universalised early childhood care system, supported through a general employer contribution.

A recent report reviewing ten case studies of companies that have implemented employer-support childcare, located in different emerging and advanced countries, finds that there are more flexible solutions than the option based on regulatory compliance (IFC, 2017[21]). The options available to employers seeking to support their employees’ needs for childcare range from more resource-intensive strategies, such as workplace crèches, to less resource-intensive ones, including information and referral services and back-up care services. Complementary benefits, such as flexible work arrangements and the recourse to paid parental leave, enable parents to care for their children more directly. Many employers provide childcare supports as part of their general approaches to achieve better business outcomes, since these forms of compensation are seen to improve recruitment and productivity and to lower employees’ turnover.

The same report finds that considerable gains are also achievable through partnerships and collaboration between the public and private sectors and civil society organisations. For example, evidence from case studies in Jordan and Vietnam suggests that staff turnover and sick leave were significantly reduced following the decision by textile companies to offer workplace childcare (by a third and close to 10%, respectively). However, it is important that the approach be flexible, with consultations with employees and their representatives being a key to ensure that childcare options meet affordability and accessibility needs of employees. For example, depending upon where the majority of employees live and how they get to work, they might prefer a child care option that is closer to their home, rather than at their workplace.

Step up efforts to create care services for low-income families: Although employer-supported childcare responds to the needs of couples whose members work in larger companies in the formal sector, it will hardly reach out to the self-employed workers, the employees of smaller companies and those working in informally (INEI, 2021[22]). This is an important issue, given that, as shown in Chapter 1, about three quarters of all women workers in Peru work informally. In addition, when both parents work it often happens that their combined income is either too high to qualify for a place in a public day-care or too low to afford a quality private day-care centre. One possible approach to address this situation is by expanding the number of places available for public day-care in tandem with increasing the level of the income threshold to qualify for access.

Evidence from high-income countries suggests that publicly funded childcare services tend to have a more uniform quality and offer better working conditions to childcare workers (Moussié, 2016[23]). The process of opening new public day-care centres can be gradual, giving sufficient time to hire qualified personnel and to expand the budget devoted to early childhood care and education. In areas where there are spots left over after all eligible households have been offered care, higher-income families could be invited to send their children while paying a fee.

Private childcare providers that fulfil the educational and psychological requirements can receive a grant to convert a space at home and purchase the caring equipment (ILO and WIEGO, 2019[24]). In Mexico, for example, the Programa Estancias Infantiles para Apoyar a Madres Trabajadoras y/o Padres Solos (PEI) pays a subsidy for the care of children from low-income households directly to a home-based childcare worker, with the parents covering the rest of the fee. In addition, the government can provide subsidies for the private childcare spots that fulfil quality requirements. The recourse to flexible solutions can be particularly useful in areas where the demand for day-care spots exceeds the supply.

Expand and professionalise community-based programmes: The challenges of developing formal childcare services in far-away areas and in the main urban centres, such as metropolitan Lima, differ. Labour force shortages, particularly of a well-trained childcare workforce, are likely to weigh more in the rural areas than in the urban centres. In addition, the demand for childcare services is likely to be less stable than in the urban areas reflecting the seasonality of agriculture outputs. While increasing sharply when agriculture and harvesting activities reach a peak, it declines afterwards as soon as seasonal sources of pressure moderate. These variations imply a capacity to adapt.

The further expansion and rationalisation of community-based childcare programmes can help addressing these challenges. In particular, as part of ongoing efforts to improve Cuna Mas (for children aged below 3 years) and PRONOEI (for children between 3 and 5 years) and their networks of home visiting services, Peru could decide to strengthen the training programmes for supervisors and caring volunteers. Other Latin American countries have taken similar initiatives recently. For example, the Colombian Institute for Family Well-being offers scholarships to community carers and educators wishing to further their knowledge and skills in early childhood education (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar, 2020[25]).

Some countries have chosen to reinforce the supply of continuous training to childcare workers, by increasing the options for shorter but more regular and better-spaced programmes. Vietnam, for example, offers opportunities for continuous training of up to two months each year (Neuman, Josephson and Chua, 2015[26]). In Peru, a similar approach could result in the adaptation of training schedules to the seasonality of agriculture productions. Such an adaptation could have positive returns on parenting capacity, if it facilitates attendance by both parents.

A number of countries have adopted more decisive compensation policies. Ecuador, for example, has tripled the pay for community childcare providers from one-third to the full minimum wage (Moussié, 2016[23]). Aside from pay increases, the growing professionalisation can entail feedbacks effects on the expansion of formalisation if the time devoted to childcare work qualifies the individual for pension credits and health coverage. By increasing the attractiveness of the childcare profession this will support the expansion of labour force participation.

Support informal carers: There is no univocal definition of informal carer. Under one common definition, an informal carer, or caregiver, is an individual who provides care assistance to those in need of it within the context of a pre-existing relationship – a family member, a close relative, a friend or neighbour – and without having received a qualifying training. However, the definition can also capture an activity that takes place beyond the sphere of existing relationships, such as the case of a non-professional, non-trained individual, for example, who works for a pay in a private household without a formal contract. Many migrant workers fall into the latter category.

Informal carers form the first line of support for elderly people in all countries, regardless the level of development. Low- and middle-income economies rely on the unpaid labour of informal carers to a high extent because the supply of specialised health care services is scarce in these countries, while they also have a sizeable informal care sector. However, in the advanced economies the attention devoted to informal care has also increased remarkably, over the past years. This reflects a range of driving forces and sources of pressure, with longer life expectancy, changing illnesses, the growing number of elderly people with limitations and population ageing, the most frequently cited. Today about 14% of people aged over 50 provide informal care on a daily or weekly basis on average in the OECD countries. Three out of five daily carers are women. The recognition of the role those informal caregivers play is an issue of relevance to all societies.

The OECD has recently carried out an extensive review of the policies to support informal carers in EU countries (Rocard and Liena-Nozal, 2022[27]). Taken together, the key messages of this work provide a framework for responding to challenges as countries increasingly commit themselves to recognise and protect the rights of informal carers:

  • In the past decade, countries have taken steps to facilitate access to information to support informal carers through websites and social centres. In France, for example, local information centres, such as “House for older people and carers” are successful in reaching out to carers. In the Netherlands, General Practitioners (GP) are involved in the identification of informal carers. Public services and NGOs also run various types of local information centres. One example for Latin America is the city of La Plata in Argentina where a network of residents, academic experts and service providers has created a website with such information.

  • Training plays a key role to prevent physical and mental exhaustion of carers and strengthen the quality of long-term care. Countries increasingly adopt schemes to strengthen the access of caregivers to individual learning and online training. In Peru, a study on the effectiveness of measures to improve the lives of people with dementia and their caring families in Lima has shown that even brief, simple interventions focusing on family caregiver education and training about specific long-term illnesses, such as dementia, may be highly beneficial in contexts characterised by low awareness and limited support from formal services. Benefits are visible in significantly reduced stress of family caregivers and increased quality of care for older people (Mariella Guerra et al., 2011[28]).

  • Respite care is a necessary tool to help carers rest and manage other responsibilities. Countries can include the financial support for respite care in the allowances towards carers or their families. In Germany, for example, a beneficiary family caregiver may be eligible for respite care for 4 weeks a year. In Brazil, the city of Belo Horizonte has introduced a pilot project in which trained social and health workers spend a week working with the families of dependent older people to bring some respite care to people’s homes but also to train family members on how to care for the relatives (UN Women, 2017[29]).

  • The overwhelming majority of EU countries provide financial support to carers through cash benefits, either paid to carers directly through a carer allowance or indirectly via those receiving the care. At least part of this sum is used to compensate formally family carers.

  • Beyond providing financial support to carers, countries increasingly take measures to ensure that caring time qualifies for pension credits and that carers benefit from health coverage.

  • One important economic cost of caring stems from the effects it has on formal labour force participation, particularly on the female workforce. Typically, high-intensity caring leads to reduced rates of female employment and hours of work. These concerns explain the growing commitment by countries to support informal carers as they combine work and caring. Currently, over half of EU countries provide some rights of leave in order to care for a family member – either paid or unpaid.

  • To ensure that carers provide high-quality care, countries mostly rely on visits of health and social care professionals to witness signs of neglect or abuse. Public oversight is also important to ensure that labour standards are respected.

Maternity and paternity leave policies affect how families split paid and unpaid work. Where there is no maternity leave, mothers will likely drop out of the labour force, subsequently finding it more difficult to re-enter. In OECD countries, the female employment rate rises with the length of the statutory maternity leave but starts falling when the duration exceeds two years. This evidence suggests that beyond a certain length the maternity leave may lead the gender employment gap to widen, rather than to shrink (Thévenon and Solaz, 2012[30]). It also brings to the attention the important balancing role that fathers play when they take a paternity leave to counter the frequent pattern whereby couples revert to a traditional division of labour when they become parents. For example, in Norway, couples whose child was born four-week after the introduction of paternity leave reported fewer conflicts about the division of unpaid work than experienced by couples whose child was born before the new regulation and improvements in the sharing of housework tasks (Kotsadam and Finseraas, 2011[31]). Evidence from Sweden and Spain likewise suggests that couples split unpaid work more equally following the introduction of more gender-equal parental leave policies (Hagqvist et al., 2017[32]). A detailed analysis from Germany shows that fathers who took parental leave decreased their paid work afterwards and increased the hours devoted to childcare. However, only fathers who took more than two months of leave also increased the involvement in other types of unpaid work (Bünning, 2015[33]).

In Peru, mothers have a right to 14 weeks of maternity leave, equally divided between prenatal and postnatal days (Figure 2.2). Mothers of twins or children with disabilities can get 30 days additional leave. Although this length corresponds to the minimum standard as defined by 2000 ILO Convention No. 183 on Maternity Protection, it is below the 18 weeks suggested by ILO Recommendation No. 191. Contingent upon approval by a doctor, mothers can transfer a large share of the pre-natal days to the postnatal period. The costs of maternity leave are born by the social security system, thus reducing the cost to employers and guaranteeing equal conditions of access for men and women to the labour markets.

However, women who work in the informal sector cannot benefit from the system because they are not associated. This means that in Peru a large number of women workers are not entitled to maternity leave, with some groups of women being more affected than others – those working as domestic workers and in retail trading, for example. Although precise information on coverage rates are not available (IPC-IG and UNICEF, 2020[34]), a recent survey by the INEI shows that in 2021 out of a total of 8.7 million mothers in Peru (aged 15 years and above), 48.4% work as self-employed and 78.7% work in a small enterprise (INEI, 2021[35]). It is likely that many new mothers in these groups are not covered by a maternity leave.

Beyond income losses, the lack of maternity protection for female informal workers can exacerbate risks of infant mortality reflecting the fact that expectant mothers cannot afford to take time off work before the birth. It also inhibits the capacity of mothers to breastfeed exclusively for a six-month period and continue breastfeeding to supplement solid foods until children are two years old, as per the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

New fathers in Peru working in the formal sector can take two weeks of paternity leave (Figure 2.2). Although twice as much as the regional average, this length is far below the OECD average for paternity leave and other parental leave reserved to fathers. However, it is important to note that the OECD average of around eight weeks reflects in part the extremely long entitlements of one year of paternity leave in Korea and Japan. In either of the two countries, very few men take any paternity leave, let alone during a period of one year. For example, in Japan, only 6% of eligible fathers took leave, and most stayed at home for only two weeks (Rich, 2019[36]). Some firms in Peru may offer extended paternity leave to their employees.

Once parents return to work, they have little options for easing the time-crunch of simultaneously working and caring for the children. At 48 hours for full-time and a maximum of 24 hours for part-time work, maximum work hours are above the standard work week of 40 hours that is common to many OECD countries. In addition, many workers may work longer hours. In Latin America in the mid-2010s, 21.4% of workers worked more than 48 hours and 8.1% worked more than 60 hours (ILO, 2018[37]). In Peru, the shares are likely to be higher than the regional average: in Lima in the period between September and November 2019, 29.3% worked more than 50 hours and 13.2% worked more than 60 hours (INEI, 2020[38]). Although overtime work should be compensated, the regulation is seldom applied, in particular among informal workers. Adding commuting time, many women opt for part-time employment, if they want to allocate time to childcare.

Establish parental leave with reserved paternity leave weeks: As discussed, Peruvian maternity leave rights currently align to the minimum established by the relevant ILO convention. In addition, a parental leave that can be taken by both mothers and fathers, no matter who stays home at a particular point in time, can ease family life by giving fathers a concrete opportunity of becoming more involved. Many European countries have gone further than this and opted in favour of a more decisive approach. Namely, they had success with boosting the take-up of parental leave by fathers through reserving a given share of the parental leave for fathers only, meaning that the total leave that a couple can be on is larger if both take it.

Extend maternity protection to informal workers: Extending maternity protection to workers in the informal sector is essential to achieve a more balanced distribution of paid and unpaid work activities between partners. In addition, by releasing women who work in the informal sector from the pressure to work too far into pregnancy and to return too soon after childbirth, it will likely help reducing the high exposure of the vulnerable populations to health care and economic risks (WIEGO/ILO/UNICEF, 2020[39]).

To open protection coverage to workers that are not included, Peru could consider reinforcing the system of maternity cash benefits, that are tax-funded, rather than being contributory. The Juntos programme already provides benefits to pregnant women and children living in extreme poverty (ILO, 2016[40]). One way to further expand coverage could be by raising the income cut-off for entitlement and the level of the benefits provided. In addition to making eligibility criteria more inclusive, enrolment procedures should be simplified, for example, through decentralised and mobile registration units and paperless registration. Nation-wide campaigns can support the demand for social security enrolment amongst workers in the informal economy, while also increasing awareness for their needs.

In addition, providing breastfeeding arrangements can help reducing absenteeism and strengthening the retention of experienced workers. They are generally simple to implement and affordable even by small and informal enterprises. Peru could consider adjustments in the regulation to facilitate the introduction of flexible work schedules allowing mothers to arrive later or leave earlier to breastfeed their children.

Attitudes about gender roles and norms in private and public life not only influence the degree to which men and women take up care responsibilities. They also affect expectations and beliefs about what people should and can do. They shape and structure ambitions, including the professional careers people aspire to (UNESCO, 2021[41]; OECD, 2020[42]).

Gender marginalisation starts at a very early age. It is in early childhood that boys and girls start believing that some abilities, environments, games, sports and behaviours are for girls while others are for boys (Karlson and Simonsson, 2011[43]; Wahlstrom, 2003[44]). Another important source of concerns is that the competencies of boys and girls and their activities are valued differently, with “leading” roles being for boys, while “subordinate” roles for girls.

Gender marginalisation contributes to shy girls away from assertiveness and from pursuing educational tracks and occupations that are perceived as traditionally masculine, such as programmes in STEM degrees. Given that occupations with the higher share of male workers are often better paid, the transmission of gender stereotypes across generations leads to perpetuate earning gaps (Kunze, 2018[45]). On the other hand, boys brought up to believe in traditional gender roles may avoid care professions and be less willing to participate in housework and child care activities once adults (OECD, 2017[46]; Lachance-Grzela and Bouchard, 2010[47]).

Gender equality and education are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNESCO, 2020[48]), which recognises the key role that education can play in challenging and transforming unequal social and gender relations, norms and practices. Education has enormous potential to foster the acceptance of gender equality as a fundamental value and human right. A gender-sensitive educational approach allows boys and girls to develop their strengths fully and to pursue their interests freely. It aims to open up the widest possible range of options for all students through more inclusive and gender-equal curricula, teaching practices and materials. By shaping social norms, inclusive learning is an essential component of the fight against gender-based violence (EU, 2011[49]).

School attendance and completion have increased steadily the Latin American countries over the past decades, especially at the primary education level (Munhoz Fabíola and Ndebele Philani, 2020[50]). Despite this progress, disadvantaged socio-economic groups – identifiable by gender, ethnicity, race and territory, for example – remain largely excluded from education (UNESCO, 2020[48]). Such a contrasted landscape has fuelled growing attention to the policies to increase the access to quality education by all.

One increasingly supported view among Latin American policy makers and stakeholders, including in Peru, is that the curricula and the textbooks are important means through which an education system can become more inclusive (UNESCO, 2020[48]). This is in recognition of the fact that the choices made in the design of the curricula and the textbooks provide a representation of the diversity of society and the commonalities shared by all its members. Country initiatives to address these issues include the introduction of a more inclusive language in the textbooks and improving the balance between numbers of men and women represented in textbooks (UNESCO, 2020[48]). Across Latin American countries, the textbooks continue to act as an important driver to the reproduction of traditional roles assigned to men and women. In Peru, for example, textbooks still largely misrepresent traditional gender roles. In Chile, a study of history textbooks showed that, for each female character, there were five male characters, and representations of women and girls were largely linked to domestic chores (UNESCO, 2020[48]). Some countries are developing curricular guidelines towards more inclusive systems by addressing gender inequality and recognising sexual and gender diversity. In Bolivia, the enactment of the Comprehensive Act to Guarantee Women a Life Free from Violence in 2013 allowed the incorporation of gender equality concepts into the curriculum at all levels and in teacher training programmes.

Another issue of growing policy attention concerns the role of teachers and how it shapes the interest of students and career orientations (UNESCO, 2020[51]; OECD, 2015[52]). In the strongly polarised Latin American regional context, governments are increasingly concerned by the fact that teachers’ behaviours, attitudes and narratives compound other disadvantages and risks of exclusion, such as being part of an ethnical minority, for example, and being from a rural community (UNESCO, 2020[48]). A study carried out by the Chilean Ministry of Women and the National Women’s Service (SERNAM) shows that the examples given by the teachers generally place female characters in the domestic “private world” of childcare and care of the elderly. Conversely, they place male characters in the “public world” and workplace settings (2009[53]). Even when the teachers believe that the students have the same learning potential, they often unconsciously treat boys and girls differently (OECD, 2019[54]).

The misrepresentations of teachers reinforce, in turn, concerns regarding the lower participation of women in sciences. When teachers are less confident in girls’ scientific abilities and provide them with less feedback, girls’ success and interest in these subjects diminishes. In Australia, Norway and Hong Kong, China, the influence of gender norms on the scientific expectations of teachers are already apparent at the pre-primary level and manifest through a stronger engagement of boys in games that develop scientific understanding (UNESCO, 2020[51]). Female teachers in science and mathematics have a potentially important role to play in addressing these biases and in reorienting girls’ interests and choices towards STEM disciplines (OECD, 2019[54]; Breda et al., 2020[55]; Ahmed and Mudrey, 2019[56]).

Beyond the attitude of the teachers, the gender biases of the parents can also influence the attractiveness of STEM disciplines to girls. Data from PISA assessments suggest that girls do not seem to be getting much encouragement from their parents. In all countries and economies surveyed on this question in 2012, parents were more likely to expect their sons, rather than their daughters, to work in a STEM field – even when boys and girls performed equally well in mathematics and science. Some 50% of parents in Chile, Hungary and Portugal reported that they expect their sons to have a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, but less than 20% of parents held such expectations for their daughters (OECD, 2012[57]; OECD, 2019[54]). In Peru girls that perform well in mathematics and sciences often pick non-STEM educational pathways (OECD, 2018[58]; UNESCO, 2014[59]).

As part of its broader policies to promote equal opportunities for men and women, the Peruvian Government has introduced important measures to address discriminatory practices in the educational sector. The 2012-17 National Plan for Gender Equality aimed at mainstreaming gender equality in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies in all ministries (MIMP, 2012[60]; MIMP, 2019[61]) (see, Chapter 1, Box 1.2). In the field of education, the measures spanned from the use of gender inclusive language and awareness campaigns, to the explicit recognition of the principle of gender equality at school, from comprehensive sexual education and the non-discrimination of expectant mothers, to their reintegration in the school system after pregnancy.

Building on the findings of the 2013-15 National Survey on Social Relations (ENARES), which revealed that violence in school affects seven out of ten Peruvian children (INEI, 2016[62]), the recent measures also contain a focus on the fight against gender-based violence. Furthermore, as a way to reduce gender-based violence from a young age and reduce sexist gender stereotypes, in 2019 Congress delegated the Ministry of Education to reflect into the education system the nationwide gender approach to combat gender violence and discrimination between women and men (MIMP, 2019[63]).

The reform of the National Curriculum for Basic Education -- the implementation of which started in 2020, following final approval in April 2019 --, marks a fundamental step in the right direction. Building on international practices (UNESCO, 2020[48]), the new curriculum provides concrete guidelines to raise awareness of future generations about the importance of gender equality and the equal representation of men and women in all aspects of life (MINEDU, 2016[64]).

Encourage the introduction of inclusive examples in school textbooks. Although Peru should be praised for the adoption of a gender-sensitive approach in the basic school curriculum, this change will not be enough if left alone. As a complementary measure, Peru should ensure that school textbooks and materials align with the spirit of the new curriculum and that teachers receive appropriate training to implement it. Notwithstanding the 2000s saw signs of progress, such as the introduction of communication guidelines to foster the recourse to inclusive language and to improve the balance in the representation of men and women in textbooks, actually implemented initiatives to avert the reproduction of traditional gender roles remain isolated (UNESCO, 2020[48]). Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay offer teacher support materials for inclusion of sexual and gender diversity.

Train teachers to address gender attitudes and stereotypes at school. International experience suggests that the efforts to create a culture conducive to gender equality should start from early education and with the willing support of the teachers (OECD, 2012[69]). Through appropriate training teachers can improve the language and pedagogical approaches used in the classroom and in ways that are better adapted to the age of the children (UNESCO, 2017[70]). In the Flanders (Belgium) teachers received trainings to detect the presence of gender attitudes and stereotypes in the curriculum material and were encouraged to propose solutions on how to improve the situation. As a result, they could play a pivotal role in the initiatives undertaken by the government to raise awareness about gender roles in Flemish schools. For example, they became more mindful about the importance of spoken language in averting the development of stereotyped gender roles.

Some countries see teacher training as part of a broader effort to ensure that all teachers are prepared to teach all students. For example, since 2013 Costa Rica promotes training for teachers from indigenous communities, including through scholarships and other support for studies and professional development (UNESCO, 2020[48]).

Engage families in the process of creating gender-sensitive education. Beside the direct responsibility of the teachers and the schools in the creation of a gender-sensitive education system, the supportive role of the parents is also very important. Parents may be apprehensive about the concept of inclusive education, when not openly against the new initiatives to promote its implementation. In 2019 the Peruvian Ministry of Education launched a national campaign to inform parents about the importance of gender-sensitive education, involving the creation of 140 initiatives to engage families (MINEDUC, 2019[71]). In addition to workshops and talks, games were organised to challenge traditional gender-roles (WAPA, 2019[72]).

On international practices, the pedagogical guidelines implemented by the Chilean Government encourage the schools to take a more pro-active role to engage the families by exploring options for co-operation with the parents’ associations (OECD, 2021[73]). The guidelines include a video that parents can watch for their background ahead of participating to a discussion meeting. In Ireland, the guidelines prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science provide the parents of children from primary and secondary schools with information about school obligations in relation to gender equality and the supportive role that parents can play (Council of Europe, 2011[74]; EIGE, 2020[75]). The Spanish Irene programme informs and trains parents as part of a wider initiative aimed at preventing sexual violence committed by young cohorts in secondary education (Council of Europe, 2014[76]).

Continue the efforts to increase the interest of girls in STEM disciplines while promoting role models. The Peruvian Government supports various collaborative initiatives to attract girls to STEM subjects, often under the impulse of the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología e Innovación Tecnológica (National Council for Science, Technology, and Technological Innovation, CONCYTEC) working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education. For example, Eureka is a long-standing nationwide programme on science and technology that dates back to the mid-1980s. It aims at stimulating the curiosity of children in primary and secondary education for STEM disciplines. Teachers and students work together to the development of a scientific culture using pedagogical approaches adapted to the age of the children.

MaCTec Peru (Mini Academy for Sciences & Technology) – again created by CONCYTEC, in partnership with private donors and the academic community – is a non-profit organisation for the reduction of the gender gap in STEM fields. It targets young Peruvian girls from urban and rural areas through quality science education. Since its creation in 2012, it has promoted workshop participated by established scientists at which girls from different backgrounds, between 8 and 11 years old, learn, create and experiment. Upon returning home, they can share their experience and apply their learning with their peers and possibly more widely with their communities. Some 200 girls from diverse social and economic background in Lima, Huancayo and Huaraz, have benefitted from MacTec’s training and have gone on to hold workshops in schools and reach out to their peers. MaCTec estimates that at least 20 000 children have been reached during the first 5 years of existence of the initiative, without counting the impact of MaCTec girls in their family and community at large. MaCTec Peru was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education for its “Mobile MaCTec Bus Labs” project (MaCTec, 2020[77]).

Mentoring and role models have shown to have concrete positive results in stimulating girls’ interest in STEM fields. Similarly to the MacTEC initiative, in 2017, the OECD and the Government of Mexico jointly launched the “NinaSTEM Pueden” programme, a project aimed at stimulating the curiosity and passion of Mexican girls for STEM subjects through educational opportunities outside the classroom, inspired by meetings with women mentors who had excelled in these fields (OECD, 2020[78]). Another Mexican programme,”Codigo X”, promotes the inclusion of girls and women in the ICT sector by organising workshops, conferences and hackathons for girls and young women on digital literacy, robotics and programming while showing them the different areas of opportunity they have in technology careers (OECD, 2018[79]).

To further strengthen ongoing initiatives, the government could expand teacher trainings to tackle gender biases in STEM educations (Corbett and Hill, 2015[80]; OECD, 2017[46]). These efforts could include by equipping the teachers with appropriate pedagogical tools to help children, particularly, girls, overcoming the anxiety about mathematics and their lack of confidence in their own science and mathematics abilities. Initiatives such as the one implemented by VHTO – the Dutch National Expert Organization on Girls/Women and Science/Technology – train teachers to help the young generations to become aware of their talents and how to use them in STEM professions (VHTO, (Dutch) National Expert Organisation Girls/ Women and Science/Technology, 2014[81]).

Encourage boys to become more involved in care and domestic work. Masculinities are social constructs that relate to perceived notions – shared by both men and women – about how men behave and how they are expected to behave in order to be considered “real” men violence (OECD, 2021[82]). They are shaped by and are part of social institutions – formal and informal laws, social norms and practices. Diverse forms of masculinities coexist across cultures, geographical locations and time, and some of these masculinities directly hinder women’s empowerment and gender equality. “Restrictive masculinities” and their associated norms are often rigid and promote inflexible notions and expectations of what it means to be a “real” man.

Education and awareness-raising initiatives at school play a potentially important role in addressing “restrictive masculinities”, for example by helping boys develop from a young age a positive disposition towards equal opportunities and shared responsibilities among partners (Council of Europe, 2014[76]). In Germany, the long-established Girls’ Day, has grown to become an awareness raising tool for boys in lower secondary schools about the importance to support domestic work and care activities domestically and for boys and girls about cultural misperceptions, such as with regard to certain occupations that are traditionally perceived as female or male. More recently, schools, universities, companies and associations have introduced the Boys’ Day – Future Prospects for Boys. Boys from 5th grade can learn more about occupations in the education, social, health and other sectors where men are under-represented. They also have the opportunity to join activities in the fields of life planning and social competences (German Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, 2019[83]).

Keep the momentum for change. Enhancing gender equality in education is a long-term process that requires capitalising on present and previous efforts to promote improvements. Continuous monitoring of achievements can be of great value to put Peru on a sustainable path of progress. As part of a defined long-term strategy, Peru could identify a clear set of intermediate targets and standards, delegating an independent monitoring body to regularly assess progress and disseminate success stories at school. Impact evaluation on whether the gender mainstreaming approach in Peru’s curriculum affects students ‘attitudes and educational paths could provide an important source of information on possible gaps in the approach and how to improve it over time.

Overtime, the interplay between economic expansion, the diversification of employment opportunities, better pay and well-being prospects, has attracted increasing flows of Peruvians to Lima. In the ten years to 2017, Lima reached almost 10 million inhabitants, which corresponds to one-third of Peru’s population (INEI, 2017[84]). Although these patterns have led to significant progress in poverty reduction, Lima’s infrastructure has hardly kept pace with the needs of an increasing population (The World Bank, 2020[85]). Given the lack of an adequate infrastructure to secure the proviso of basic necessities – roads and public transportations, appropriate sewers and water treatment facilities, to mention the most important – Lima’s residents have to create their own provisions with whatever is available (OXFAM, 2020[86]).

Public transportation stands out as one of the main preoccupation of Limenos (Lima Como Vamos, 2019[87]). This is unsurprising in a highly strained urban environment, where economic opportunities concentrate in few areas and many people live far away. For example, a resident of Lima can use up to six means of transport in the same day to move within the city (IZA, 2018[88]). People have to take the limited transports available in close physical proximity, which represents a critical source of concerns for vulnerable residents and particularly women. Recent surveys by Thomson Reuters into women’s safety in the world’s largest capitals ranked Lima as the fifth riskiest city (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 2018[89]) and the third most dangerous transport system for women after Bogota and Mexico City (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 2014[90]). According to the Inter-American Development Bank, 78% of female public transport users have been victims of, or have witnessed, a robbery while using public transportation (IADB, 2016[91]). Limited access to safe transportation is one of the most important barriers hindering the labour force participation of women in developing countries (IZA, 2018[88]).

Travel patterns depend strongly on gender (ITF-OECD, 2018[92]). More than half of women declare to have changed transport habits in order to feel safer and a fifth to no longer travel alone. Insofar as these adaptations typically result in longer commuting times, they are costly for women (IADB, 2016[91]). Instead, because so many women take care of children and/or older parents, and work part-time, they would need short trips with few transport changes to be able to carry minors and more bags than men usually do (The World Bank, 2016[93]). Long journeys to or from work increase the exposure of women to the threat of violence, generating fears about personal safety. Some characteristics of public transports, such as the space available to travel comfortably and compliance with the journey schedule, may affect the probability of sexual violence. The greater the space available is and more reliable the schedule, the less time passengers wait for the arrival of the transport, which lowers the probability of sexual harassment (IADB, 2016[91]).

Safe and secure urban transport reduce the barriers of access to education and employment experienced by women. A 2019 resolution issued by the Peruvian Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC), mandates public transport service providers to display a notice indicating that sexual harassment behaviours are prohibited and subject to sanctions and criminal prosecution. The notice also includes the emergency line of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations.

Recently launched alert campaigns – such as, for example, “Yo viajo segura en el Metropolitano” “(I travel safely in the metropolitan), “Si eres víctima denuncia” (if you are a victim, report it) and “No mas, alto al acoso!” (No more, Stop arrestment!) (MTC, 2020[94]) – have led to a 50% reduction in the number of reported cases, also thanks to the installation of security cameras. The MTC’s 2020 National Protocol of Response to Acts of Sexual Harassment in Land Transportation of People (MTC, 2020[95]) establishes a protocol for providing assistance to victims of sexual harassment for use by drivers. In 2018, the MTC launched a digital survey “Seguridad en Transporte Publico en Trujillo #AcosoEsViolencia” to improve information gathering on violence in public transports (MTC, 2020[96]).

Ensuring access to safe, quality, affordable and reliable transportation is essential to free women’s time for productive activities and enable better access to health and education services and jobs.

Step up ongoing efforts to increase levels of safety and security on public transport. Although Peru has already pursued several campaigns, more could be done to improve safety on public transport. As one example of good practice, the Viajemos Seguras (Let’s Travel Safe) programme in Mexico City points to the importance of pursuing an integrated approach to address the issue. This initiative includes four main components: service kiosks inside metro stations where users can seek help or report incidents; ad hoc training for transport employees, including drivers and operators; the delivery of prevention campaigns in public transport vehicles and stations; and options for women using the Metro and bus systems to sit in women-only cars. Fifty-eight percent of the Metro lines and virtually all Bus Rapid Transit lines (BRT), for instance, have now implemented this approach (IADB, 2017[97]).

However, it is worth noting that many urban inhabitants, particularly from low-income households, depend on peseros and private small buses that have no women-only spaces and that are perceived as quite dangerous. In addition, the creation of women-only areas on public transport – mostly in countries where women face institutional discrimination, severe sexual harassment, or both – has met with mixed success. Women are split between those who welcome the measure as a safe haven and those who feel even more discriminated. It often happens that men ignore the rules and monopolise the areas, in which case the measure becomes irrelevant. Recent analysis among college students in Tokyo/Kanagawa, Japan, finds that women-only cars are not as effective as surveillance cameras or increased police patrols (Shibata, 2020[98]).

Support female representation in public transport workers. Women represent less than 15% of the total workforce in the transportation sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (IADB, 2020[99]). Increased participation of women as employees and decision makers within the sector will underpin the understanding of the diverse needs that a secure transport system should respond to. In France, sector ambassadors go to professional schools to attract young women to the careers of maintenance and driving. As a result, in 2017, 26% of public transport drivers were women, among the highest participation among OECD countries (EU, 2018[100]). If accompanied by an increase in the stock of transport vehicles, the expansion of women hiring would bring about an increase of the frequency of busses and other types of public transport, especially during peak hours.

Expand data and information gathering to support the development of adapted solutions. Mobility data disaggregated by sex are important to better understand needs and find transport solutions that are more accessible and inclusive for women. For example, they could support the development of adapted gender-friendly plans to address infrastructure bottlenecks (IADB, 2016[101]). These could include the availability of basic facilities, which typically include elevators and level crossings, alongside maintained hygiene supplies and lightened platforms in subway stations, as well as priority seats. In terms of urban infrastructure, they include the presence of lightened sidewalks and bus stations. A range of technologies can reduce the perception of insecurity during waiting times, from the design of automated stations to the installation of emergency buttons (ITF-OECD, 2019[102]). Digital applications can provide real-time information on waiting times at subways and bus stations.

Although most countries have made important strides in expanding opportunities of access to quality education, giving all children and youth access to quality education remains essential to support well-being and to create the conditions for economic independence. Poor children and young people who drop out of the school system prematurely are more likely to find themselves in situations of vulnerability, to be exposed to violence and to adopt risky behaviours. Adolescent girls and young women from the poorest households are more likely than girls and young women from wealthier households to become pregnant or give birth before the age of 18 (UNFPA, 2013[103]).

As discussed in Chapter 1, in Peru educational outcomes are highly heterogeneous (OECD, 2017[104]). Attendance of primary schools is high, regardless of whether children live in rural or urban areas (INEI, 2019[105]). By contrast, the enrolment rate of children in early secondary education (in the age bracket between 12 and 16 years) is around 10% higher in urban than rural areas (INEI, 2019[106]). The average years of education vary significantly across socio-economic groups. Between indigenous and non-indigenous groups, citizens living in rural and urban areas, and the lowest and highest income households, the difference equals 5.5, 3.7, and 3 years, respectively (INEI, 2018[107]). In the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA), Peruvian secondary students under-perform compared to other Latin American countries with comparable levels of per-capita income, such as Colombia, for example.

Work activities of teenagers outside school influence educational attainment. In Peru, regardless of sex, about 2 million children work at least one hour per week. From 12.1% among 5-9 years old the share rises to 29.3% among 10-13 year-olds and 40.5% among 14 to 17-year-olds, respectively. In rural areas, the percentage share is nearly four times higher (52.3%) than in urban areas (16.2%) (ETI, 2015[108]). The share of boys involved in work activities is slightly higher than that of girls. Likewise, boys tend to work slightly more hours. About 24% of girls and adolescent women work and 5% of these girls also perform domestic chores at home and attend school. Such a triple shift is more frequent in rural areas where 46.3% work and 20.3% carry out the three activities.

Teenage pregnancy stands out as a major source of concern in Peru, where as many as 13.4% of girls aged 15-19 are mothers or currently pregnant – a rate that has stayed relatively stable over the past 20 years. Teenage mothers are less educated than their pairs, since adolescence motherhood associates to a high probability of attending classes irregularly, repeating school grades and leaving formal education prematurely (OECD, 2018[109]). It also means a drastically reduced probability of attending higher education (GRADE, 2019[110]). In 2017, 32% of teenage mothers had not (yet) completed primary school; 45% had obtained a primary degree; 12% a secondary and only 7% a tertiary degree (UNFPA, 2018[111]). In addition, adolescent pregnancy increases the health vulnerability of girls, further to triggering socio-economic inequalities that persist into adulthood (MINSA, 2012[112]).

Likewise, there is a close correlation between educational achievements and teenage pregnancy. The probability of teenage pregnancy is lower among 15-years girls who are still attending school and girls who scored high at tests when they were 12-years old. This reflects the fact that more hours spent at school mean less exposure to unsecurity and violence in outdoor areas. In addition, girls who attend school have more chances to receive a sexual education and develop a knowledge of the life-long implications of adolescent pregnancy. Conversely, the risk of becoming teenage mothers is higher for girls who loose self-efficacy and educational aspirations during teenage years. Losses of self-esteem often relate to poor school performance (IZA, 2016[113]).

Moreover, there is a strong correlation between teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence. More than two-thirds of the registered fathers of new-born babies by 11 to 14 years old mothers are adults, with half of these between 20 and 24 years old (MCLCP, 2016[114]). In Peru, having sexual relations with a minor under 14 years old is illegal and sentenced by penal law (UNFPA, 2018[115]).

Furthermore, the risk of being a teenage mother is more than twice higher in rural than in urban areas (23.2% compared to 10.7%), ranging from 6.6% in Arequipa to 30.4% in Loreto. Vulnerable, marginalised girls are more likely to become pregnant, reflecting limited access to health care and information to avoid pregnancy. Girls living in poverty are more than eight times (24.2%) as likely to have been pregnant than those growing up in non-poor households (3.9%) (ENDES, 2019[116]; UNFPA, 2018[111]). The exposure to the risk of teen pregnancy is particularly strong among girls of indigenous populations.

Reward poor families for their engagement at children education. The opportunity cost of primary education refers to the loss of returns accrued by the family from child labour and/or from the contribution that the child gives to the household by absolving domestic tasks, such as taking care of younger siblings, performing household chores, and caring for livestock. Opportunity costs are especially relevant in poor, rural, agrarian households, where child labour is in high demand and therefore the immediate returns from schooling may be lower than the returns from the labour market. In certain contexts, the issue is of greater concerns for girls than for boys, reflecting the gendered distribution of household chores, marriage customs, and the lack of employment opportunities for girls after schooling. Boys may be responsible for livestock or other farming activities in the family.

In principle, by providing regular transfer benefits to parents of poor background who chose to keep their children at school, conditional cash transfers (CCTs) should entice a decline of the opportunity cost. In Peru, for example, the programme Juntos provides a bi-monthly transfer, which is conditional on the mother providing access to education, nutrition, and health services to their children. However, experience with Juntos shows that accessing the benefit can be costly for beneficiaries, reflecting infrastructural gaps that limit mobility, or the limited reach-out capacity of digital network services, for example (OECD, 2019[117]). Work by Innovations for Policy Actions (IPA) finds that the average recipients of a CCT payment travel five hours to get to the nearest point equipped to perform a financial transaction. This implies that 10% of the payment is disbursed in transportation costs, which reduces the potential of the programme to generate desirable effects (Innovations for Policy Actions, 2016[118]). Furthermore, beneficiaries may lack the knowledge, or the confidence, to interact with formal financial institutions.

These findings point to the need to ease mothers’ access to the benefit as a key pre-condition to enhance the positive effects of CCTs – and Juntos, in particular – on schooling outcomes. One option for Peru is to potentiate the branchless banking network in Peru using digital means of payment, or local agents serving as deposit and withdrawal points – typically shopkeepers –, where the capacity of the digital service network is limited. To change beneficiaries’ attitudes the introduction of branchless banking should take place alongside the creation of local workshops as a way of building digital knowledge and trust in the formal financial system (Innovations for Policy Actions, 2016[118])

Communicate the benefits of completing studies. Students from low-income families often are ill-informed about the monetary and social returns of education and the opportunities to progress through studies. Influenced by the perception that education does not affect their future well-being, students may drop out of school prematurely to support the income of their families. Previous OECD analysis suggested that scaling up the pilot programme Decidiendo para un futuro mejor (Deciding for a better future) devised by the MineduLAB could be a rapid and fairly inexpensive way to inform students about the returns to education (OECD, 2019[117]). This pilot consisted of a campaign to transmit information on the monetary and social returns of basic and higher education through videos and infographics sent to educational institutions (MineduLAB, 2018[119]). The videos showed students reflecting on the importance to study and have goals, based on their personal experience and family environment. They also provided information on funding opportunities to higher education, such as via scholarships and educational credits. To ensure contextualisation and adaptation to local characteristics, the videos destined to the urban and rural areas were not the same.

The results of a randomised experiment to evaluate the pilot programme show a significant decrease in the number of dropouts (MineduLAB, 2018[119]). At the same time, they point to improving academic achievements for the group of students who most strongly underestimated the returns to education before receiving the information about their real value. The observed progress of student performances were particularly strong among girls, which reveals that one of the most important potentials of the programme resides in the ability to help closing gender gaps in education. The pay-offs of replicating this experiment at the national level could be significant and even more desirable in light of the fact that the information campaign has proven to be highly cost-effective.

School mentoring and student counselling are also a key to making girls and young women stay in the education system. Interestingly, private sector can play a leading role in these initiatives. One example is The Girls’ Network (https://www.thegirlsnetwork.org.uk/), which is a UK national charity aiming to inspire and empower girls aged 14 to 19 from disadvantaged communities by connecting them to a peer mentor, and a network of professional women acting as role models. The initiative involves partnerships with schools and colleges. All mentors are women who have received a yearlong training in mentoring, after having undergone an application process. More than five hundreds trained mentors give practical advice on how to identify and access opportunities and how to develop the confidence to seize them.

Ensure comprehensive sexuality education and information at school and out-of-school. Peru has taken important steps to prevent teenage pregnancies following the launch of the 2013-21 Multisector Plan for the Prevention of Pregnancy in Adolescents. This plan sets out five main objectives: 1. Postpone the start of sexual activity in adolescence; 2. Increase the percentage of adolescents who complete secondary education; 3. Ensure the inclusion of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in the National Curricular Framework; 4. Increase the use of modern contraceptive methods among teenagers; and 5. Reduce sexual violence against girls and teenagers (MINSA, 2012[120]). Different ministries have launched initiatives actions to achieve these objectives (UNFPA, 2017[121]; UNFPA, 2018[122]):

  • Reproductive rights and information. In 2016, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) introduced a law on family planning, advocating in favour of CSE and the establishment of health services tailored to the needs of a youth population. Creating adolescent-friendly spaces in primary health centres preserves confidentiality, while also respecting the autonomy of adolescents. This is particularly important in Peru, given that adolescents continue to face barriers when accessing modern methods of contraception. For example, many health practitioners still require the presence of a parent when they prescribe a contraceptive to a teenager, despite the fact that the law no longer requires this. In 2018, the Ministry of Health reported 8 026 health facilities at the national level, but only 44.5% of these have differentiated services for adolescents. According to the National Statistical Institute, only 48% of adolescents aged 15 to 19 years old who are in a relationship use modern methods of contraception (UNFPA, 2018[122]).

  • Education. Recognising the critical role that training for teachers plays in supporting change, the Ministry of Education has implemented and disseminated guidelines and virtual courses for teachers on comprehensive sexual education at all levels of education. The law grants school retention and re-entry for pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers.

  • Sexual violence. The Ministry of Health has developed technical guidance on skills, training and resources to assist girls and teenagers who are victims of violence (such as psychological first aid and basic referral, for example). In parallel, the Ministry of Education has created an awareness-raising campaign at schools and universities to prevent family and sexual violence and adolescent pregnancy. This work seeks to raise awareness among students and parents and includes training for teachers.

Despite the above broad ranging prevention initiatives and campaigns, teenager pregnancy rates have not changed and large disparities continue to persist in the country. The Amazonian regions deserve special focus given the high cases of teenage pregnancy and reports of sexual violence. However, also Lima shows large numbers of adolescent mothers.

As one objective of the Multisector Plan for the Prevention of Pregnancy in Adolescents, Peru’s decision to integrate CSE into the educational curriculum, is in line with the international guidance provided by UNESCO (UNESCO, 2018[123]). UNESCO defines CSE as a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. CSE addresses sexual and reproductive health challenges – reproduction, modern contraception, pregnancy and childbirth, along with sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Insofar as it uses a human-rights-based approach, CSE involves raising awareness among young people about own rights and the respect of the rights of others, including the right to safe responsible and respectful sexual choices free of coercion and violence. The ultimate goal of CSE is to equip young people with the tools that they need to achieve healthy lives and relationships. Awareness about the importance of this objective is particularly important, given the growing exposure of young people to scientifically incorrect, conflicting and confusing information about sexuality and gender.

In absolving their role as places of teaching and learning, schools play a central role in the provision of CSE. Teachers and school health nurses can reach large numbers of youth with sexuality education before they become sexually active, with school offering a structured environment for such an education. However, in order to present concepts, and deliver on common national objectives, such as the guidelines of Peru’s Ministry of Education, the teachers and health nurses need to acquire the right skills through training and access to appropriate sources of information (UNESCO, 2018[123]). This is important to ensure that they can communicate with youth in a manner that is appropriate to their age (MINEDU, 2017[124]). Acting as social support centres schools may also facilitate the links between the children, the families and the communities with other services, such as health care services, for example. Where families are reluctant to engage in discussions on topics that they consider challenging, schools can channel information among parents about the importance for their children to become exposed to appropriate information on sexuality (Motta, Keogh and Prada, 2017[125]). Work on the case of Finland, which represents an advanced model of comprehensive sex education in Europe, points to the effectiveness of the co-operation between school and health authorities on sexuality education for the young as one key strength of the Finnish model (Kontula, 2010[126]).

As mentioned, the Multisector Plan for the Prevention of Pregnancy in Adolescents includes among its objectives the postponement of the start of sexual activity in adolescence. This is the main objective of the campaign Todo a su tiempo! (All in good time!), which was launched by the Peruvian Ministry of Health following the publication of the Plan. According to the brochure prepared for the campaign “If you are in high school and your classmates are talking about having sex, you should know that the best thing for you to do is to postpone this activity. Adolescence is a very important stage of life where you achieve your identity as a unique and valuable person, establish friendships, consolidate your habits, direct your studies and strengthen your life project. Sexual relationships should begin when you have completed your physical and emotional maturity.” However, the conclusions of a strong body of empirical evidence underscore that “abstinence only” programmes are of very little or no help to reduce teen pregnancy and potentially harmful to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (Santelli et al., 2017[127]; Duflo, Dupas and Kremer, 2015[128]). The approach followed by the UNESCO’s guidelines on the matter is that the right to choose when and with whom a person will have any form of intimate or sexual relationship also includes the right to abstain (UNESCO, 2018[123]). Nevertheless, recognising that abstinence is not a permanent condition in the lives of many young people, the UNESCO’s guidelines also stress that a CSE-based curriculum process has to encourage more than abstinence as a method of protection against adolescent pregnancy and STIs.

With the average years of education varying significantly across socio-economic groups in Peru, it is essential that CSE programmes reach out-of-school young people and children, who are often most vulnerable to misinformation, coercion and exploitation. The UNFPA’s guideline on out-of-school CSE complements the initially provided guideline of UNESCO by providing evidence and informed insights to address this specific dimension (UNFPA, 2020[129]). It recommends a more informal and flexible setting than may be possible in school, involving smaller learning groups, adaptable class times, more varied and creative delivery of the curriculum, and more interaction among learners. One important aspect relates to the question about who should be in charge of delivering the information. Facilitators can encourage learners to share questions and perspectives that they may be reluctant to voice within a learning environment that they perceive as excessively formalistic. Of essence is ensuring that both girls and boys feel that they can safely and comfortably raise questions, clarify doubts and address concerns. Trained young individuals who students can identify as peers can help the creation of a supportive information setting.

Provide medical and financial support to vulnerable girls and teenage mothers. Peru’s initiatives to ensure prevention and to limit the risk that adolescent pregnancy leads to school leaves represent a major advancement. However, although medical and psychological help is crucial, financial support is also very important. For example, in Uruguay a programme aims at promoting educational projects for mothers under the age of 23. It provides mothers with financial support for childcare, alongside with social support to help them acquire skills and competencies. In Australia, the government has created several transfer programmes for teenage parents, including the JET Child Care Fee Assistance subsidy, for example, which allows young mothers and partners paying for the care of the children during work or school times. Paid directly to childcare providers, the amount depends on the income of the family, the child’s age and the hours that the mother and partner spend at work or in education. These programmes underscore the importance of targeting, especially with a view to reaching out to rural and remote areas.

In Peru fewer than three in ten businesses are led by a woman (INEI, 2015[130]). The majority of these businesses are SMEs (Aequales, 2019[131]), which typically are less capable than large companies to support work-life balance and promote women’s careers. The most committed large companies to support women’s career advancement include many multinational corporations. By contrast, the biggest Peruvian companies are managed almost exclusively by men (PWC, 2019[132]). Women hold fewer than one in ten board of director posts (9.2%) (Republica, 2020[133]), which is below the OECD average (12%) (OECD, 2016[134]), although somewhat above the regional average (8.5%) (IDB, 2018[135]).

A number of barriers prevent Peruvian women from attaining leadership positions. A key one relates to the influence of gender stereotyping about leadership figures and the entrenched prejudices they have to overcome to rise in their careers (Nathan Associates, 2016[136]). Managers are more likely to hire candidates whose characteristics are similar to theirs but since most hiring managers are men, women are less likely to be candidate for senior management positions. Furthermore, talent is frequently defined as a pattern of behaviour associated with male characteristics – such as assertiveness and competitiveness, for example – which reinforces the belief that good managers are men (Warren and Walters, 2002[137]; Cabrera, 2007[138]).

Career interruptions due to maternity further reduce opportunities for promotion (PNUD, 2010[139]). In addition, corporate, academic or political leadership positions require long work hours, a high degree of flexibility and a disposition to travel. These characteristics are difficult to reconcile with the fact that women in Peru spend significantly more time on family and domestic obligations than men do.

Although a significant gender imbalance is also observable in academia, there are indications suggesting that women’s participation in university positions is increasing. A study carried out by Nathan Associates for the United States Agency for International Development and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation found that at the Universitad del Pacifico (Lima) 35% of professors were women, which was higher than at other universities (Nathan Associates, 2016[136]). The same report underscores that universities often prefer to recruit faculty members with a doctorate from a prestigious university abroad, with one problem being that moving abroad can be challenging for women with children. Once abroad, unless the husbands find an equally rewarding profession, the situation of reversed gender roles in a foreign culture represents a test for the marriage.

Balancing work and life responsibilities is very difficult for women in scientific academic fields. This means particularly high risks of career slowdowns, when not abandonments. The Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC), a private university in Lima for engineering, finds it difficult to recruit female professors in some fields, notably mathematics, although there are more potential candidates for teaching and faculty positions in other STEM fields, such as chemistry, for example.

With regard to the representation of women in congressional electoral lists, although Peru has progressively increased the statutory share, from 25% in 1997, to 30% in 2001 and 40% in 2019, the actual share of elected female candidates falls short of the quotas. At least in part this reflects the practice to concentrate the names of women candidates at the bottom of the lists, which reduces the chances of been elected by lowering visibility (UNDP, 2020[140]). To address the latter bias, the 2020 Law N°31 030 further modified the rules regarding electoral lists (Diario Oficial del Bicentenario, 2020[141]), by introducing a requirement (effective from the 2021 elections) according to which the names of men and women candidates alternate in the electoral lists. Under the new requirements, the minimum quota of women on electoral lists is set to expand further, reaching parity by 2031. To reinforce implementation and monitoring, the office of the Ombudsman will present an assessment report to Congress, following the elections, proposing actions for further improvements. Both the executive and private sector companies, in contrast, are not subject to any legal obligations for gender parity. A bill sent to Congress in July 2020 proposed binding targets for women’s representation on boards of directors and the executive (Congreso, 2020[142]).

Create targets for women’s representation in private companies. Currently, only 11% of companies in Peru have set voluntary targets for the composition of their board of directors, with the enterprises that have set out a committee for gender parity having 34% more women in decision-making positions (Aequales, 2019[131]). In Germany, the 2015 Act on equal participation of women and men in executive positions in private and public sectors set a 30% gender diversity quota for supervisory boards and required listed and co-determined companies (where workers can vote for representatives on the board) to establish targets for gender equality at the top two levels of management. Israeli state owned enterprises have a legal target of appropriate representation for both genders on the board of directors – usually 50% unless there is a sound reason why such representation are not achievable. Until reaching the goal, preference shall be given to directors of the under-represented gender. Enterprises that do not comply can be sanctioned.

Further to rule-based approaches that involve sanctions, certification mechanisms that praise and put forward companies that comply with announced objectives and commitments in favour of gender equality can generate positive reputational effects, which act, in turn, as an incentive for other companies to adopt similar practices. As one example, the UNDP runs the Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme in the LAC region, which aims to create certification incentives for private companies that meet commitments towards gender equality (OECD, 2020[42]).

In addition, international experience shows that business associations and networks can play a strong role in supporting women who are in leadership positions to act as role models, and raise awareness of women in leadership (OECD, 2017[46]). At the company level, mentorships programmes or networking spaces for women inside companies can also help strengthening the interest of women to participate in governance and decision-making bodies. However, only one-third of companies in Peru currently have such initiatives (Aequales, 2019[131]).

Promote an academic culture that integrates female faculty members and supports them to excel. Particularly in the STEM fields, finding qualified candidates for academic positions starts with creating an inclusive learning environment for all students (Nathan Associates, 2016[136]). To this end, mentoring for junior faculty members and nurturing a culture that promotes work-life balance for all faculty members will help ensuring that women are more satisfied with their careers and have the opportunity to excel. Women who chose to stay in academia are more likely to have opportunities for training and career development, to have support from co-workers or supervisors, and for balancing work and non-work roles than were women who left the profession (Corbett and Hill, 2015[80]).

Continue the efforts to strengthen women’s representation in public leadership. Although the quota system in Peru’s Congress and state owned enterprises has provided positive results, more actions remain needed to address women’s persisting under-representation in public leadership (OECD, 2017[46]). Changes to the law and policy reform are important to ensure that men and women have equal access to political representation in election practices and public office, in civil service recruitment and promotion, and in human resources management in general within the public sector. Requirements for gender balance in positions of leadership need to be strengthened at national, subnational and institutional levels as part of the push for change. Tackling the mind-sets of incumbent male leaders and managers and changing institutional cultures still embedding gender bias in both public and private sectors is also key.

Implement specific targets, monitoring and evaluation systems. Tracking progress in gender-balanced leadership and addressing remaining challenges with tangible reforms might require the support of specific targets and the collection of gender-disaggregated data, in both private and public sectors. Measurable objectives are important to evaluate whether goals for women’s representation in different professions and at the leadership level are met. A way of measuring these achievements could be by increasing companies’ participation in the PAR Ranking, a virtual, free and confidential tool that measures the gender equity performance of private companies, public entities and SMEs. In Australia, the Workplace Gender Equality Act requires non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to disclose their “Gender Equality Indicators” in annual filings with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Agriculture, fishery, construction, retails, transports and person-to-person services are key examples of sectors characterised by a particularly high presence of informal workers in Peru. Women are overrepresented in some forms of informal work, such as retail and paid household work activities, for example; by comparison, most informal drivers are men (Gamero Requena and Carrasco, 2013[143]).

General reforms play an important role in boosting formalisation. The broad priorities of the 2018-21 Strategy for Labour Formalization in Peru foresee extending the protection against social risks (e.g. unemployment, old age, maternity and ill health) to the most vulnerable workers, including the self-employed. At the same time, the adaptation of skills and training programmes, for example, is also a priority of the strategy, which likewise involves the administrative simplification of norms and procedures that currently prevent companies from formalising employment. Furthermore, the strategy aims at strengthening the controls of the labour inspectorate, along with scaling up awareness campaigns about the gains of formalisation (MTPE, 2018[144]).

One frequently reported limit of general formalisation strategies is that they neglect to take account risks and vulnerabilities that relate specifically to gender (OECD/ILO, 2019[145]). For example, they generally assume full-time employment careers with hardly any interruptions over the work life, which is at odds with the fact that interruptions of women’s employment careers are more frequent than men’s are, while they also involve longer periods devoted to caring for others, more part-time work and lower earnings.

To overcome these problems, some policies focus on addressing the traits of specific groups of workers, who tend to be overrepresented in the informal sector. One illustrative example is the group of domestic workers, which in Peru accounts for about 420 000 individuals, among whom 90%work in the informal sector without access to social security approximates (Eurosocial, 2021[146]). At the same time, 95% of domestic workers are women, which broadly equals 7% of all employed women in the country (ILO, 2021[147]; Otárola Peñaranda et al., 2014[148]). More than half of these workers (52.5%) earn a monthly income that is below the legal minimum wage.

Domestic jobs are very different from other occupations. For example, a domestic worker may work full- or part-time; may have a single employer or multiple ones; and may or may not reside in the household of the employer (ILO, 2016[149]) Furthermore, domestic workers in Peru combine different sources of discrimination, by gender, by ethnic origin and by migration status (Pérez and Llanos, 2017[150]). Together with generally low educational attainments, this confluence of factors explains why many women domestic workers still serve for life in this position with limited alternatives and hardly any protection.

Over the past years, Peru has taken important steps to strengthen the recognition of the rights of domestic workers. The Domestic Workers Convention No 189 entered into force in 2019, one year after depositing the instruments of ratification with the ILO. In 2020, in the midst of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru adopted the Legislative Decree No. 1 499, which mandates the employers to set out the terms and conditions of a domestic work relation using a written contract. Furthermore, Law No. 31 047 equate the rights of domestic workers with those of the rest of the salaried sector. Since 2021, a regulatory framework supports the implementation of the law.

As a result, domestic workers have full rights today, including the extension of minimum wage coverage, the definition of working time, rest time, the right to take paid annual leaves, the right to social security, and the right to receive bonuses as other employees do (50% of the monthly wage twice a year, in July and December, respectively). Peru has a registry of household workers maintained by the National Superintendence of Customs and Tax Administration. However, a very small proportion of domestic workers actually register (Lexartza, Chaves and Cardeco, 2016[151]).

One additional barrier to formal employment for women stems from the fact that it may be more difficult for them to find an occupation in sectors where formal employment tend to be more prevalent. Although gender-neutral education helps reducing these differences, employers’ prejudice against women may continue after hiring. Women working at graduate-level positions in the Peruvian construction industry, for example, report that they have less opportunities to advance their careers than men have (Barreto et al., 2017[152]). By contrast, when looking at hiring of salespersons, secretaries and accounting assistants in Lima, women tend to be favoured. Nevertheless, there is evidence that discrimination against women of indigenous origins persists when they apply for a secretarial position (Moreno et al., 2012[153]).

Foster the general policies to tackle the gender dimension of informality. In Peru, like in other Latin American countries, contributory social insurance programmes to protect against social risks, cover a limited share of the population and this population typically work in the formal sector (OECD, 2018[154]). Since women are overrepresented in the informal workforce, the proportion of women who are ineligible to participate in social insurance programmes is much higher compared to men (Holmes and Scott, 2016[155]). In addition, when contributory provision, such as private pensions or individual savings schemes, are designed the same for men and women, effectively they discriminate against women, reflecting lower earnings and more frequent interruptions during their working life due to reproductive and caring responsibilities.

In an effort to extend coverage and raise the attractiveness of social insurance programmes to women working in the informal sector, countries around the world, including some in Latin America, have opted in favour of introducing top up mechanisms for women contributing to pensions. Other countries have introduced “care credits” to compensate individuals for the contribution losses incurred during the time they have spent out of the labour force caring for dependents. The equalising element stems from the fact that usually the beneficiaries of the credit are women.

Engage informal female workers and their representatives in policy design. Beyond the design and implementation of social insurance schemes, other complementary policies deserve attention. A previous section of this chapter discussed the benefits arising from the extension of maternity provisions to self-employed women, which is a relevant dimension to take into account given the informal character of many of the activities that these women carry out. Other relate to the policies to enhance women’s employability and income security. Key examples in this respect include the policies that aim to reduce hiring and wage discrimination, as well as those that aim to scale up access to childcare services. Other parts of this chapter have addressed these policies.

One important question that has generated much debate recently concerns the interplay between informality and the programmes and provisions that condition the receipt of non-contributory benefits to specific behaviours by the recipient households (Camilletti, 2020[156]). On the upside, conditionality can be gender-friendly, if, by design, the programme helps the solution of women’s practical needs and increases their disposable income. On the downside, where compliance requirements onto women result in an exacerbation of their time burdens, conditionality ends up being gender-discriminatory. This can happen when the outcome of the conditionality is to reduce even more the already limited time that the women can spend on a paid work activity. Reflecting the disruption of time-schedules, they will at best continue to search for a job in the informal sector. The worst-case scenario is that they will stop searching for a job altogether.

Recent research addresses these important questions for Peru with a particular focus on Juntos (Cookson, 2018[157]). This work accounts the time spent to access the benefits of Juntos as unpaid work. Above and beyond usual caring responsibilities at home, this time involves the efforts that mothers must display to meet programme conditions and collect the payments, alongside transportation costs and the waiting time spent in community centres, including for queuing (Cookson, 2018[157]). The findings illustrate that in order to comply with strongly disciplining conditions; women take children to underfunded and short-staffed schools and health clinics, which are ill equipped to deliver an adequate service. In rural areas, for example, the time spent walking to the centres for delivery considerably adds to the time to wait for the services.

These results highlight that the effectiveness of cash transfers in responding to the needs of women, both as workers and mothers, depends strongly on the implementation of other complementary investment, in childcare and health care infrastructure, for example, along with in human capital to equip the centres with an appropriately staffed and well-trained service workforce (OECD, 2018[154]). They also point to a delicate balancing act in public spending since it is undesirable that the expansion of conditional cash transfer programmes crowds out the financing of other investment in social infrastructure and related services.

The involvement of informal workers and their representatives in policy design can play a pivotal role in facilitating the identification of complementarities between gender policies and in limiting the unintended outcomes of programmes. One approach to achieve this outcome is by promoting women’s voices and participation, including in collective decision making associations, such as trade unions and work councils (OECD/ILO, 2019[145]). However, recent research work concludes that the engagement of the informal female workers, or extension agents and fieldworkers who have experience of working with them, and who have their trust, is essential for improving policy design and raising the impact of gender-friendly formalisation policies (Holmes and Scott, 2016[155]). This reflects the fact that representatives of formal workers may not have the same incentive to represent the informal sector. The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) for women in informal employment in India offers a wide range of services, including childcare provision and health insurance, and facilitates access to government benefits and services.

Improve the labour rights of domestic workers. Following the progress achieved to conform Peru’s legislation to the mandates of Convention 189, policy attention concerning the status and recognition of domestic workers has shifted to implementation. This includes with regard to the measures needed to guarantee access to social security, the labour inspections to verify compliance with the law, union’s organisations to promote collective bargaining and information and awareness-raising campaigns (ILO, 2016[149]).

Uruguay provides the example of a pioneering country in the policies to promote social protection of domestic workers, with one salient feature being the possibility to bundle together workdays and wages from different jobs. In this way, the system allows social security coverage for part-time workers, which is particularly important in light of the different forms that domestic work may take and the fact that workers are often hired via a verbal agreement only.

Ecuador and Chile have followed a process of gradual equalisation of the minimum wage of domestic workers with that of other workers. Uruguay establishes the minimum wage for domestic workers in a tripartite commission of the Wage Council, which provides a framework for collective bargaining. For example, further to agreeing on the wage setting, the parties use the Wage Council to establish a seniority bonus, design measures to achieve dignified working conditions, free of moral or sexual harassment. Bolivia and Argentina have also established a framework for social dialogue and collective bargaining for domestic workers. Social dialogue also facilitates the agreement and launch of joint public awareness campaigns between partners, through the dissemination of printed materials, and animated videos to explain rights and procedures.

In addition to the recourse to mandatory registries, a number of countries are developing mechanisms to increase the effectiveness of the inspections. For example, Chile gives the employers the option to either let the inspectors enter the house or go to the labour inspectorate with the documentation showing the conditions of work. In Uruguay, teams of labour inspectors can interview the employers and the employees at the door of the home, rather than inside. In case the inspectors observe a violation of labour rights, they visit multiple households in the area in order to protect the anonymity of the employee (Lexartza, Chaves and Cardeco, 2016[151]).

In Peru, despite the fact that the rate of self-employment among women is almost as high as among men, the share of women who are also employers is only about half as large (see Chapter 1). The reason why few women become employers is that women entrepreneurs have a lower propensity to engage in added value and profitable forms of self-employment with a high potential to expand. Reflecting the factors that confine women to certain activities and sectors (e.g., accommodation and food services, wholesale, and so on) while reserving others to man (e.g., construction, technology, transportation, for example), most businesses that women create concentrate in relatively low added-value sectors. Taken on aggregate, this “horizontal segregation” is responsible for a large part of the difference in profitability between women-led and men-led businesses.

Moreover, most women-led businesses take the form of micro-enterprises, which operate in the informal sector and are created out of necessity, rather than building on the opportunity of a regular, possibly growing, income. As a result, many women-led businesses do not develop enough to become an established business that drives to further job creation. In Peru, the average life span of a micro-enterprise is six years, while that of a small enterprise does not exceed seven years. These figures compare to an average lifetime of 13 years for the larger companies (Lozano Girón, 2020[158]).

Several interdependent forces stand behind these patterns. As discussed in other parts of this report, women do not have the same opportunities of access to education and training as men have. Additionally, the longer hours that they devote to care and household chores reduce the time that they can spend in income generating activities. Furthermore, the lack of access to financial services – such as, saving accounts and credit loans – significantly limit the ability of women to focus on the design and the development of productive businesses.

According to a recent survey of Peru conducted by the Pacific Alliance, more than two-thirds of female entrepreneurs identify the lack of financial inclusion as the single most important obstacle to the development of their entrepreneurial projects (OEAP, 2018[159]). Regarding demand side barriers, only 22% of women have a saving account, compared with 37% of men (Alliance for Financial Inclusion, 2021[160]). On the supply side, one important factor that hampers the access to finance in Peru is the situation of high interest rates (Lozano Girón, 2020[158]). The annual interest rate that banks apply to the small businesses that revert to the banking sector for capital averages 30% and 20% for the microenterprises and the SMEs, respectively. The interest rates applied by the non-banking financial institutions can exceed 50%.

Beyond the lack of financial empowerment, the survey of the Pacific Alliance points to the deterrent effects induced by the lack of business training. Experimental analysis of the effects of development training on female micro-entrepreneurs in capital Lima (Valdivia, 2014[161]), finds that the stronger availability of training can boost retail sales by more than 15% two years after the end of the training. This makes for a sizeable amount.

Furthermore, the Pacific Alliance’s survey draws attention to the importance of having in place a business environment conducive to the circulation of information through facilitating the interactions with more experienced women entrepreneurs, for example. This is essential to support the sharing of experiences between peers, which stimulates mutual learning. Interesting insights on the matter are apparent from another experimental study on female entrepreneurship in Peru, conducted as part of the initiative Women Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises. The latter programme aims at disseminating information about successful business models for women’s entrepreneurship in SMEs (Valdivia M, 2017[162]). The study finds evidence that in addition to strengthening the managerial skills of women entrepreneurs, the transformative benefits of experience sharing spill over to the household, reflecting the stronger bargaining power of the women at home. This important “agency” outcome materialises in a more balanced distribution of chore and childcare responsibilities between partners.

Tackling the mix of barriers to financial inclusion is a key to ensuring that Peruvian women can engage in new businesses and subsequently expand their activities (Girls Who Venture, 2020[163]). Telling examples of the different initiative that Peru has in place to help addressing training, financing, networking and mentoring obstacles to the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship include:

  • The Ella Exporta programme promoted by PROMPERÚ, the Peruvian Commission for the Promotion of Export and Tourism, provides four to five-months long export training programmes on topics such as financing, e-commerce, and logistics, accompanied by technical assistance on taxation and accounting to women entrepreneurs. Around 70 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the programme so far. The current year’s programme implemented in co-operation with the US embassy and focuses on the value chain of cocoa and sweets. The Ministry of External Trade and Tourism furthermore supports efforts to include a gender chapter in trade agreements, as pioneered by Chile and Ecuador.

  • The programme Tu Empresa promoted by the Ministry of Production is a platform for micro- and small entrepreneurs led by women. It provides training and technical assistance and contributes to disseminate the advantages of formalisation.

  • The Ministry of Women’s Mujer Produce and Mujer Produce Digital programmes provide training to experienced women entrepreneurs, for example with a view to improving digital competences, but also facilitating the dissemination of marketing tools.

  • The Innóvate Perú programme co-finances entrepreneurial projects through national competitions. Although it is open to both men and women applicants, women-led start-ups make up only about a fifth of the winning participants (OEAP, 2018[164]).

  • The Redes Regionales de Mujeres Emprendedoras y Empresarias, promoted by the MIMP, is a network for linking economic enterprises led by women to regional, national and international markets. To this effect, it offers access financial and training services and technical assistance in business management. The Network reaches out to all regions of Peru.

  • The Ministry of Production and of the Economy are jointly developing a training programme for teachers on entrepreneurship education.

In addition to financial inclusion, the barriers to the creation of a dynamic entrepreneurial sector comprise the lack of a friendly administrative environment, which discourages the formal registration of companies. While common to men and women, the adverse effects of these barriers may be particularly important for women whose time and mobility is typically more limited, given existing norms and the dominant division of caring obligations in Peru. A recent survey by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada ranks “inefficient government bureaucracy” as the most burdening factor for doing business in Peru, just before “restrictive labour regulations” (Asian Pacific Foundation of Canada, 2020[165]). Specific examples of acting constraints that entrepreneurs identified include lengthy administrative procedures, an obstructive municipal bureaucracy, and a restrictive legislation.

A further pre-requisite to bolster women’s entrepreneurship is the equal treatment of men and women about the rights on the property and the use of land. Land tenure security is a key factor for the development of the rural communities (Navarro-Catañeda et al., 2021[166]). In Peru, after a period of considerable progress, the process of granting concessions and land titles has shown a deceleration more recently (ILO, 2016[167]). The slowdown reinforces precariousness because many communities are still without land titles.

The issue about the rights on the property is particularly acute for the population with an indigenous language as their mother tongue. This reflects the fact that the majority of this population still live in rural areas – although rapid urbanisation implies that the situation remains evolving. Since the distribution by gender of the indigenous population is approximately equal in Peru, women are directly concerned (ILO, 2016[167]). There is a widespread consensus that the initiatives taken in the past by the government to include women’s names on land titles and the related identification documents have helped increasing the share of agricultural plots jointly held by men and women (USAID, 2016[168]). However, in rural communities the voices of women remain underrepresented when reaching decisions concerning land uses. Tensions appear compounded by the threat to land security stemming from informal loggers and miners.

Promote the use of bundled approaches to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship. A growing body of research explores the interplay between finance and women’s entrepreneurship development in contexts of high informality (ILO, 2014[169]; ILO-WED, 2018[170]). These works concur that access to formal saving services – e.g. opening a bank account in a women’s names – can encourage women to put some money aside for business uses, while at the same time withstanding pressures to share the money with relatives. Moreover, they agree that more flexible debt repayment conditions – such as a grace period on loans, for example – help women’s business activities and increase the likelihood of their survival.

Another important conclusion of these works is that reaching a strong level of financial inclusion requires more than just the opportunity to open a banking account and to access loans. This reflect the complex nature of the gender financial divide, which involves the coexistence of many layers of structural and individual barriers. Of potential relevance for Peru, these conclusions highlight the importance of continuing to foster the dissemination of programmes that combine access to financial services with other dimensions of entrepreneurship development, such as markets and business training, for example, alongside financial education and the acquisition of digital skills (Alliance for Financial Inclusion, 2021[160]).

Recent work assessing the impact of microfinance to low income women in the “Sacred Valley” of Peru’s Andean highlands stresses the relevance of other specific needs to support the businesses activities of women in rural communities (McNamara, 2021[171]). For example, the microcredit programmes ProMujerPeru and FINCAPeru include the provision of health care services and awareness raising prevention initiatives against gender-based violence. Such a broader approach has led to shifts in women’s self-confidence and their assertiveness as economic agent at the household, community and business levels. One important condition to ensure quality will be the certification of the entities in charge of providing the services that go along with the loan.

A worth considering approach to tackle “horizontal segregation” and facilitate the creation of women-led businesses in sectors traditionally dominated by men-led businesses requires setting aside a number of public procurement contracts for women-led businesses in sectors where women are underrepresented (construction, mining and quarrying, etc.).Adaptability is also a key to increasing the attractiveness of programmes to women. For example, encouraging women to participate in business training sessions that they would not otherwise attend requires flexible modules that take into account the limits of their time schedules. Accordingly, recourse to short courses, online courses and training videos, could be preferable to long training programmes.

Furthermore, the training should match the needs of women. Empirical evidence in this regard points to the importance of ensuring that the training focusses on tasks and techniques that women perceive as their prerogative. For example, the explanation behind the observed very limited initial participation of women to a research initiative to improve potato farming in Peru (less than 15% of all participants) was that they thought of potato as a “male” crop, rather than perceiving it as “women’s work”. By contrast, participation peaked to 60% for the sessions addressing planting, harvesting and evaluating potato clones, because women play a central role in the execution of these tasks (FAO, 2011[172]).More broadly, the availability of affordable and secure transportation modes plays a seemingly critical role. Securing the delivery of the training in locations not too distant from where the women live and arranging the proviso of affordable and safe transportation facilities, could significantly improve access to business training.

Finally, it is critical that Peru continues the parallel efforts to simplify the administrative procedures to formally register companies. The number of procedures to start a business have declined gradually since the early 2000s. This pattern should continue by (i) having government agencies substitute to notaries and municipalities in the registration process in order to limit anti-competitive practices and (ii) creating an online one-stop shop for firm creation.

Increase the focus on disadvantaged groups. Initiatives to revamp land-titling programmes play an essential role in supporting the entrepreneurial activities of indigenous women. At the same time, the conclusions of recent work on the impact of land-titling programmes on farm investment suggest that policy makers should be wary of overemphasising the impact of tenure security on agrarian investment (Navarro-Catañeda et al., 2021[166]). This is because land titling programmes typically work as a complement – without substituting for – other programmes aimed at fostering women economic empowerment. According to the ILO highlights such complementary programmes should include technical trainings to improve the economic performance of women businesses (ILO, 2016[167]), ranging from improving seeds, for example, to the acquisition of managerial skills, alongside other skills related to identify potential markets. One important bottleneck identified by the ILO, particularly in Amazonia, where transports are expensive and not always viable, is the lack of connectivity. The telecommunication network helps overcoming these difficulties by fostering links to sale markets, alongside experience sharing with surrounding communities. Both factors are important for supporting the production of goods and to integrate supply chains.

The creation of networks of school ambassadors could help overcoming the lack of role models that women entrepreneurs from indigenous communities typically suffer. The Frauen unternehmen initiative in Germany provides a potentially interesting example of how the programme could be organised. The ambassadors are selected by a jury, which increases their prestige. In addition, they generally attend a limited number of events with peers so to keep the required commitment relatively light (OECD/EU, 2017[173]).

On financing, one option could be to set up specific funding mechanisms reserved to people of indigenous descent (Del Aguila, 2016[174]) that could ideally be combined with training, mentoring and networking. Any specific programmes for indigenous entrepreneurs should be developed in co-operation with the Chamber of Commerce of the Indigenous Peoples of Peru.

Monitor the effects of policies. Systematic review of the wide-ranging effects of entrepreneurship programmes in low- and middle-income countries points to the complexities of evaluating outcomes both in terms of job- and firm-creation (Grimm and Paffhausen, 2015[175]). This reflects the fact that many conditions have to be met before interventions in favour of individual enterprises improve business performance and lead to the decision to create a new business or to hire additional employees. In other words, it likely takes a long chain of intermediate results before policy interventions materialise into a sustainable expansion of employment, which is also linked to improving and more secure working conditions.

It is also important to consider that many of the policy measures implemented do not primarily aim to create employment but rather to improve management practices, to achieve more stable income flows and reduce poverty. For example, the benefits of mentorship and access to role models tend to materialise in changes at the degree existing resources are utilised, without necessarily delivering more jobs (ILO, 2014[169]). Similarly, the evidence available seems to suggest that although finance and training programs have positive effects on business outcomes such as improved knowledge and practice and sometimes income, the effects on a general set of labour market activities are generally weaker and sometimes insignificant (Grimm and Paffhausen, 2015[175]). These findings highlight that it may be more desirable to seize the effects of interventions on sales, revenues and income levels than to quantify employment outcomes, which may depend by other causes. The availability of disaggregated indicators by gender might also deserve attention as a mean to portraying possible unintended inequalities of outcomes that may emerge on the way to financial inclusion (Trivelli Ávila and Caballero Calle, 2018[176]).

Women safety plays a key role in women economic empowerment. In all countries, women are victims of violence, not only at home (perpetrated by their current and former partners or other family member) but also in public spaces, public transports, school, universities and at work.. Adding to physical and mental suffering, harassment, sexual or physical abuse and rape undermine girls and women educational and economic opportunities, ultimately affecting their participation in the labour market (ILO, 2018[177]). For instance, the victims of domestic violence are less likely to be economically active, and when still active, less likely to be productive, a consequence of physical and mental suffering (ECLAC, 2016[178]).

To limit the exposure to violence in public spaces, at school and at work (ECLAC, 2016[178]), many girls and women restrict their movements, which potentially limits their educational and work opportunities, alongside to enjoy life (OCAC, 2020[179]). Violence at work may lead to quit a potentially good job opportunity; if the women choses to stay, she does so at a cost to her well-being (ILO, 2018[177]). A high percentage of girls who have experienced a traumatic episode at school have to change school or leave the educational system altogether (OCAC, 2020[179]).

Peru has one of the highest rates of violence against women in Latin America (Wilson Hernández Breña, 2019[180]; PAHO, 2014[181]). At home, almost half of Peruvian women have reported cases of domestic violence and calls to the centres of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations increased drastically during the COVID-19 health crisis (MIMP, 2020[182]). Chapter 3 reports that cases of violence increased sharply during the pandemic (ENDES, 2020[183]). The main victims of harassment in streets and on public transports are young women. According to a 2012-16 survey, in Peru, seven of every ten women between the ages of 18 and 29 years has been victim to street harassment, a share that rises to nine in ten women in urban areas such as Lima or El Callao (PUCP, 2016[184]). The number of reports of workplace sexual harassment to the National Superintendence of Labour Inspection increased nearly five-fold between 2019 to 2020 (from 96 to 484 complaints) (GOB, 2020[185]), potentially pointing to progress in the means available to report such complaints and the protection of privacy. Domestic workers are also significantly exposed to situations of sexual harassment and abuse at their workplace. An estimated 30% of domestic workers have been victims of sexual harassment in the household they work in (MIMP, 2008[186]). According to a study conducted at a public university in Lima, three out of ten men and six out of ten women say they have experienced sexual harassment in the university setting.

In 2019, 164 women were recognised feminicides murder victims, corresponding to the highest number in a decade. Among them, 70% were in an intimate relationship with the killer, before or at the time of the murder (MIMP, 2019[187]). In recent years, mobilisations against feminicides has increased across Latin America, which has the highest rate of feminicides in the world. After the murder of a young Argentine woman, the #Niunamenos collective launched an awareness campaign focusing on violence against women. In Peru, a mass demonstration in 2018 brought thousands of people to streets of Lima.

Peru has a number of laws and accompanying measures against different forms of violence against women. Among these laws are the 2003 Law No. 27 942 on the Prevention and Punishment of Sexual Harassment and the 2013 Law No. 38 068 that defined feminicide. The 2015 Law N°30 314 to prevent and sanction sexual harassment in public spaces was the first of its kind in Latin America (MININTER, 2015[188]). 2011 and 2014 laws specifically aim to reduce violence and gender discrimination in schools and universities. Several measures to fight violence accompany these laws. For example, specific online platforms make it easier for students to report harassment cases. A practical guide on preventing and punishing workplace sexual harassment helps individuals recognising that they are victims of some type of harassment; and companies that do not investigate such allegations can be fined. The campaign Violencia disfrazada de amor (Violence disguised as love) targets young people aged 18 to 29. Acoso Es Violencia (Harrassment is violence), launched in 2020, focusses on the fight against street sexual harassment. The initiative Haz la difrenecia, frena la violencia (Make the Difference, Stop the Violence) supports the fight against domestic violence by disclosing the danger of misleading believes, attitudes and practices that might justify the acceptance of gender-based violence (MIMP, 2019[189]; MIMP, 2019[190]; MIMP, 2021[191]). The brochure is translated in six indigenous languages.

Although Peru has made progress by creating laws against different forms of violence against women, there is scope for further efforts to ensure their implementation and enforcement, particularly in remote and rural areas. For example, while regional and local governments are supposed to enact decrees to prevent and punish sexual harassment, only 44% of regional governments for example had internal decrees regulating the procedure for the prevention and punishment of acts of sexual harassment at work (OEFA, 2018[192]). Updated and more frequent data on sexual harassment is needed, especially in public spaces, at school and universities.

Lower barriers restricting access to the justice system by victims of violence and harassment. Women who have been victims of violence and harassment often hesitate to report the crime because of the fear that this will open the way to an exhausting judicial process, which will re-victimise them and rarely ending in a conviction. In light of the specific barriers that women and girls encounter when accessing to justice, survivor/victim-centred justice pathways as well as the integration with services that remove barriers, are vital. Law 30 364 aims to accelerate the process for reporting domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. Complaints can be made by the victim herself, by someone acting on her behalf, or by Defensoría del Pueblo (office of the Ombudsman). These efforts should be reinforced through increasing the availability of training programmes for police and justice officers on best practices for interacting with victims can make the process of reporting these crimes less difficult. Currently, only half of the police personnel in charge have been trained on gender issues; and the majority of victims do not think that police stations have the adequate environment to collect denunciations of sexual violence – for example because they lack privacy (Defensoria del Pueblo, 2018[193]). As one example of training programme, in 2019, Mexico launched a police-training programme that aims to ensure that procedural protocols are correctly applied in situations of gender violence. The current six-month deadline for reporting harassment or sexual violence should be extended considering their psychological impact. This is particularly true when the victims are minors.

Encourage and guarantee safe complaint processes for victims. At workplaces and in schools, women may be reluctant to report harassment or violence, reflecting the fact the perpetrators are often in a superior hierarchical position, such as that of a teacher or a boss (ILO, 2018[177]). Peru should step up already existing mechanisms to facilitate the reporting of these situations in schools and universities. Prevention workshops and trainings could also help reducing the incidence of violence. A number of private employers ask their employees to follow these courses, which in addition to explaining the law against sexual abuse at work address different manifestations of abuse and how to report them. Making these courses widely available is desirable. Be it in the private and public sector and in educational institutions, it is essential to ensure monitoring and compliance with internal protocols in the event of sexual abuse and violence.

Continue educating the public about the different aspects of sexual violence and harassment. As mentioned above, Peru already implement awareness campaigns to incentivise detection and denunciation of sexual violence. Currently, these are mainly directed at an adult audience, including young adults. Given that young women are at especially high risk of intimate partner violence and that patterns of relationship interactions are set early, it would make sense to create campaigns targeted at younger youth. One example is the Spanish #pasiónnoesposesión campaign that consisted of a rap video and associated flyers and radio ads.


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