March 15, 2013
Otaviano Canuto – Huffington Post, 03/07/2013
Brazil’s success in reducing poverty and income inequality has been widely reported in recent years. What is less known is that there has also been progress in lessening gender inequality in the past two decades. Illiteracy rates for women 15 years old and above came down from 20.3 percent in 1991 to 9.8 percent in 2008. The share of the female labor force with tertiary education increased from 7.4 percent in 1992 to 11.9 percent in 2008, and now is higher than males. Government policies — some of them implemented in cooperation with the private sector — have also been addressing needs of mothers, providing health care before and during pregnancy and at birth, and child care and education. On gender-based violence, the enactment of the Maria da Penha Law has already brought some results.
Notwithstanding these milestones, a lot remains to be done. For instance, gender gaps in access to formal employment and market income still persist in Brazil. Even though there has been an increase in the share of women employed in the nonagricultural sector, their comparative advantage in education has not been reflected in relative market wages — despite the average higher skill level of the female labor force. In 2008, women’s wages were only 84 percent of men’s, and the gap increases at higher levels of education. Among those with 12 or more years of schooling, women earned merely 58 percent of men’s salaries. For the most part, the wage gap appears to reflect discriminatory practices and social norms. Brazilian women, even those working full time, continue to bear the brunt of time allocated to family chores.
June 21, 2012
Rebecca Lefton – ThinkProgress.org, 06/21/2012
Rio +20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, is renewing international conversations about how to simultaneously address poverty, protect the environment, and maintain balanced economic growth. If progress is to be made, the agenda must reflect that achieving gender equality is intimately tied to achieving these other goals, as well as being a goal in and of itself. But as current negotiations stand, Rio risks losing an opportunity to embrace and strengthen the link between women’s rights and gender equality and sustainable development
A draft agreement was reached on Tuesday after lengthy and painstaking negotiations. But many are disappointed, including those who support women’s equality. Country negotiators have been working over the last several months to complete an agreement to bring before official high-level negotiations that began on June 20. In the process the text ballooned from an original 19 page document to hundreds of pages. But yesterday’s slimmed down version of 49 pages represents the lowest common denominator. Appallingly, women’s reproductive rights and references to gender equality were a casualty.
The United States, Norway, and women’s NGOs that organized through the Women’s Major Group fought hard to include language ensuring reproductive rights for women and affirming gender equality in the Rio text. However, the Holy See (the Vatican) led an opposition that ultimately prevailed in removing key sections for gender equality in the text. The result is that language ensuring reproductive rights were completely dropped from the text.