International Women’s Day yesterday saw the annual collection of articles across the Americas about the role of women in society. In Brazil, Folha de Sao Paulo reported the findings of a number of different studies which emphasise the implications the changing position of women in society, the workplace and within families and the household. Increasingly women are becoming the dominant breadwinner within homes. Cases where the income of women exceeds that of men in the home are still in the minority, but in the last 25 years, they more than doubled, as shown by figures released by IPEA (Institute of Applied Economic Research)
From 1982 to 2007, the proportion of households where the income of women exceeded that of their partner grew from 3% to 11%. When one adds to this homes where the woman lives without a spouse, the percentage of houses where they were the main or only providers more than doubled, going from 13% to 30% in the last 25 years.
Another fact that demonstrates the advances made by women is the finding that women's contribution to the total income of households in Brazil has already reached 40%. In 1982, this proportion was 23%. The changes have been explained mainly because of improved female education and the reduction in fertility rates. Today, the IBGE has shown that education of women between 20 and 59 years exceeds that of men. In 1982, the situation was the reverse.
If women's participation in the labor market has changed considerably in recent years, the same can not be said of the division of household chores. Even in households where both work, most of the responsibilities in the home are still left to women. In 2007, 90% of women were busy taking care of household chores. Among men, the percentage was only 50%. They also spent on average more than twice the number of weekly hours to these activities than their partners: 22.2 hours, compared with 9.6 for men. The unequal division of domestic tasks is really common even in cases where women have higher income than the man.
Meanwhile in Lima, the headlines in El Comercio related to a survey conducted in Peru found that 78% of women believe that they have the same opportunities as men. The report from the International Labor Organization (ILO), states that women show almost the same level of labor force participation as men (except in construction, transportation, manufacturing and domestic service) and almost the same unemployment rates. In terms of payment, 53% of women answered that there is no wage gap between women and men. However, this is more a wish than a reality, as according to surveys, the gap between the incomes of men and women for the execution of the same work stands at 30 %. At another level, an overwhelming 97% of Peruvian women stated a desire to work. Of this, half prefer to work part time (predominant sector being married women in social class E), while 49% want to work like men (single women predominantly in the classes A and B). Furthermore, 91% believed that women should be independent entrepreneurs.