Girls outperform boys in education in Brazil but gender gaps in labour market and politics persist, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The “Closing the Gender Gap” report states that the debate in Brazil is generally phrased in notions of ‘fair’ economic development, as poverty and income inequality are key social policy concerns.
Strong economic growth in Brazil has contributed to a significant decline in poverty since the beginning of the 1990s. Indeed, poverty measured against the national poverty line fell from 35% to under 20% over the last 20 years. However, when measured against the standard OECD poverty benchmark of 50% of median equivalised household, about 30% of Brazilians slip into the poor category.
As with most OECD countries, young women in Brazil are more likely than young men to have completed upper secondary education with 56% of 25 to 34 year old women versus 49% of men of the same age. Bolsa Familia, and its predecessor Bolsa Escola, Brazil’s conditional cash transfer programme, that requires recipients to enrol their children in school, will be contributing to improved enrolment of girls in school, particularly in the historically disadvantaged northeast of the country. Nevertheless, gender gaps in education remain with more young men than women following mathematics and computer science degrees in tertiary education.
Since 1990, Brazil has reduced its gender gap in labour force participation by about half, and now compares favourably to other OECD countries in the region including Mexico and Chile. Nevertheless, the employment rate is still considerably higher for men at 86.3% than for women at 61.2%. The report suggests that labour market disadvantage starts early for Brazilian women with the proportion of people aged 15 to 24 years not in employment, education, or training around 25% for women but only 12% for men, something which continues throughout long term careers.
At 15%, Brazil’s gender pay gap is around the OECD average although the share of employed women who own a business with employees, at 2.7%, is higher than the OECD average of 2.2%. However, the majority of businesses owned by women are micro enterprises, often operating in the informal sector. Over 60% of women, against 50% of men, who started such an enterprise, did so out of economic necessity as other options to earn an income were scarce.
Quote from Gringos.com : “I am soon moving to Vitoria Brazil but am concerned with school for my daughter she is 6yrs old turning 7 in January. Here in the US she has only completed Kindergarten and is in the middle of her 1st grade. What school is best to send her and will she be starting her 1st grade over in February or will she continue to second grade? So confused and really concerned with her being behind if we return to the US .”
The report also shows that women still have low political representation across the country. While the proportion of female members of parliament has increased in most OECD countries, at 10% Brazil has the lowest proportion and has not showed any improvement in the last decade.