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Building an Inclusive Mexico

Policies and Good Governance for Gender Equality

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Mexico is slowly advancing on the path to gender equality. Many public policies aimed at empowering women are now in place: over the past two decades, Mexico has increased investments in girls' education, greatly expanded childcare and preschool, improved gender mainstreaming in government, and ensured that female politicians are well-represented at the ballot box. Yet, despite these efforts, many Mexican women still do not feel the effects of these policies at home, at work, or in public spaces. Large gender gaps remain in educational outcomes, participation in the labour market, pay, informality status, and hours of unpaid childcare and housework. “Unlocking Mexico’s full potential,” as Mexico's National Development Plan prescribes, will depend crucially on how well Mexico closes existing gender gaps in political, social and economic life and promotes real social change. Mexico must continue to invest in social and labour market policies that empower women, and reinvigorate efforts to reduce inequalities in education, labour force participation, job quality, unpaid work, and leadership. This will require embedding gender equality objectives in all public policies and budgets, across all levels of government, and ensuring the effective implementation, enforcement, and evaluation of policies and laws to achieve inclusive outcomes.

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Facing high barriers to paid work: Young women and mothers in Mexico

This chapter examines barriers to women’s participation in paid work in Mexico. Some women fare worse than others in entering, remaining, and progressing in the labour force. Mothers and young women face particularly high barriers. Mexico’s female NEET (not in employment, education, or training) rate is the second highest in the OECD, and young women are nearly four times as likely to be NEETs as young men in Mexico. One key challenge is that more than half of these young women are mothers. The gap between mothers and non-mothers’ labour force participation rates is relatively large in Mexico during the main working-age years: 25- to 54-year-old mothers are about eight percentage points less likely to be in paid work than comparably-aged women without dependent children. The barriers to labour market participation are especially high when children are very young, as Mexico has relatively weak public supports in parental leave and early childhood education and care (ECEC). Although ECEC services in Mexico have grown enormously over the past two decades, especially following the introduction of compulsory preschool for 3- to 5-year-olds, demand for ECEC still far outpaces supply for infants and toddlers. Fewer than ten percent of children under age three have access to formal care, and quality of care remains a concern. Chapter 3 concludes with a call for improved investments in social supports for families, rigorous evaluations of social policies, embedding gender considerations in planning and evaluation, and better assessments of how policies, laws, and institutions interact to affect women and girls.

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