Latin America has witnessed dramatic changes over the past two decades as millions of women have entered the labor force with enormous direct and indirect consequences on demographic patterns, family arrangements and strategies to reconcile work and family. The chapter by Blofield and Mart'nez Franzoni investigates these changes and their outcomes. The authors find that given the persistent income inequality pervasive in the region, strategies to reconcile work and family have been highly unequal. Meanwhile, and across income levels, male participation in unpaid care and domestic work has remained basically unchanged. The first decade and a half of the twenty-first century witnessed a period of intense statecraft as governments across Latin America pursued more equity-enhancing policies to cope with work-family relations. The authors argue that measures taken reflect a deliberate government response to involve state institutions, and to a lesser degree men, in caregiving. Early child education and care services and parental leaves are a case in point. They find that overall, while far behind the major structural changes the region has experienced, policy changes reflected an increasing recognition among political actors that work and family reconciliation is a matter that will require more rather than less state intervention.
Merike Blofield and Juliana Martínez Franzoni
Juliana Martínez Franzoni and Diego Sánchez-Ancochea
Camila Arza, Juliana Martínez Franzoni and Karen R. Fisher
Did recent social policy expansion entail positive changes for women and for gender equality in Latin America? This chapter argues that, overall, this expansion brought good news for women’s visibility as subjects of policy but a more mixed record in whether state programmes reinforced or contributed to alter gender inequality in the region. On the one hand, policy developments increased the proportion of women with their own incomes, improved women’s access to old-age benefits in their own right and timidly moved towards a reorganization of care beyond families and unpaid female, motherly work. Together with larger labour market participation, these developments have had a positive transformative effect on women’s lives. On the other hand, the scope and quality of benefits that matter for women and for gender equality are often limited, and social policy still leaves much to markets, families and the male-breadwinner model. This in some cases reinforces women’s role as mothers and exclusive caregivers, and in general limits the transformative potential of policy developments to close gender and social gaps. Altogether, the gendering of social policy creates a whole new agenda to confront and redress these persistent gender and social inequality traps.