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International Women’s Day 2022: Spotlight on women in Mexico

For the fifth part of Oban’s International Women’s Day blog series, Berenice, a LIME (Local In-Market Expert) who lives in Querétaro, shares her insights and experiences with us.


What is the pay gap between men and women in Mexico?

According to the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a non-partisan policy research centre, Mexican women earn lower incomes than men. In Q3 2021, the gender wage gap was 13% – so if a man earns, on average, 100 pesos for a job, a woman would only earn 87 pesos.

One of the main causes of the wage gap lies in traditional gender roles: women spend 2.6 times more time than men in unpaid care work. Lacking time and flexible formal employment options, most women seek part-time, commission-based or self-employed work which tends to penalise their income.

Women make up the majority of the informal economy (those jobs not covered by employment law and providing benefits such as pension contributions for example), with 55% employed informally compared to 50% of men. As well as reducing their income, this means that they have no access to social protection or health services.

In Mexico, 45 out of every 100 women aged 15 and older are economically active, while 78 out of every 100 men are. That means that in 2019, the labour participation rate of men was 1.7 times higher than women. Despite efforts to include more women in the job market, Mexico ranks 38th out of 43 countries in this indicator within the International Competitiveness Index 2021 (ICI) recently published by IMCO.


What is equality legislation like in Mexico?

According to UN Women, Mexico has made significant progress in women’s rights and gender equality, especially in key areas at federal level: strengthening national laws to ensure male and female equality and increasing public resources earmarked for gender equality.

Mexico’s National Development Plan (2013 – 2018) for the first time mainstreamed gender equality and women’s empowerment in all areas, and the National Gender Equality Policy (2013 – 2018) focused on advancing substantive equality. The federal budget earmarked for equality among men and women reached £1.25 billion in 2015, which was a 157% increase from before, but represented only 0.5% of public spending.

Despite the progress made, gender equality in Mexico faces a series of structural challenges: mainly, an implementation gap between what is stated in laws, plans, programmes and budgets on women’s rights and the practical compliance in daily life.


What about women in Mexican politics?

Mexico has been a world leader in measures to increase the participation of women in public life. By 2017, women already held more than 40% of seats in Congress, well above the OECD average of 30%.

In 2018, 41% of Boards of Judges and Tribunals in state justice courts were held by women; 48% of positions in the Chamber of Deputies [lower house of parliament] and 49% in the Senate [upper house] were held by women; and in city councils, 45% were women councillors, trustees or municipal presidents.

The story is less positive within trade unions, where only 60 out of 1,200 unions are represented by women. This is surprising, given the proportion of women in the workplace and the levels of political representation elsewhere.


What about female entrepreneurs in Mexico?

According to INEGI (the Mexican National Institute of Statistics), only 19% of entrepreneurs in Mexico are women. Of women entrepreneurs, 49% are between 18 and 34 years old, while 41% are between 35 and 54 years old. In terms of education, given that women in Mexico have a higher university graduation rate than men (21% compared to 18%), it is not surprising to see that 65% of women entrepreneurs have a university education, compared to 53% of men.


What is the main advocacy group for women in Mexico?

The Instituto de Liderazgo Simone de Beauvoir in Mexico is the main feminist group. They mainly offer programmes for Indigenous women, as well as migrant and Afro-Mexican women. Their aim is to create a more democratic and just society through knowledge, innovation and the formation of social leadership with a gender, rights and intercultural perspective.


What about women in key leadership or entrepreneurial roles?

Expansión is a leading Mexican business and finance magazine. Every year, it publishes a list of the 100 most influential females in business.

In 1999, Expansión published its first ranking of ‘the 100 most powerful women’. At that time, only 5% of women who made the list were in senior management positions. By the 2021 list, 65 of the 100 women featured were company owners, presidents or CEOs. This was a big step up from  2020, when there were only 44 women in these positions.

That said, there is still limited room for Mexican women in the private sector as a whole. The glass ceiling in business is a reality. Women comprise only 7.5% of management boards of Mexico’s largest companies, far below the OECD average of 20%.


What do you think would improve the situation for women in Mexico?

Ideas that are regularly promoted by feminists include:

  • Greater availability and quality of early childhood care and education services to reduce the unpaid work burden, especially among mothers.
  • Improved paternity leave. In Mexico, fathers working in formal jobs are only entitled to 5 days’ paid leave – one of the most precarious in the OECD.
  • Removing gender stereotypes from textbooks and teaching, as well as in mass media generally.
  • Improving female representation in public life – Mexico has a good track record in some aspects of politics, but women are under-represented in other areas of public life in proportion to their share of the population.

. . .

This article is based on insights and commentary supplied to us by Berenice, one of Oban’s LIMEs in Mexico. Oban’s LIME network comprises over 450 Local In-Market Experts based in over 80 countries around the world. Our LIMEs provide authentic, on-the-ground cultural, linguistic and digital insights that help our clients succeed in their target markets. To find out how your business could benefit from Oban’s LIME network, please get in touch.

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.

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