Gender Equality in Chile
Flag of Chile
|Population (in Mil.)||17.27|
|Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB)||248.59|
|Sex Ratio (m/f)||0.98|
|Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m)||1.081|
|Income Ratio (f/m)||0.42|
|Literacy Ratio (f/m)||1|
|Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m)||0.95|
|Women in Parliament (in %)||15|
|Human Development Index||44/169|
|Social Institutions and Gender Index||- /86|
|Gender Inequality Index||53/138|
|Gender Equity Index||80/157|
|Women’s Economic Opportunity Index||40/113|
|Global Gender Gap Index||48/134|
|More information on variables|
The Constitution of Chile was reformed in 1999 to include specific provisions upholding equality between men and women and prohibit gender-based discrimination. In general, however, the country remains marked by persistent sexual inequality. Chile is one of the only states in the world to have elected a female president, Michèle Bachelet, and parity is respected within the government. Women are generally more affected by poverty than men, and suffer discrimination on the job market and in politics, the media and the family. The lack of employment opportunities in rural regions drives many women to migrate to urban areas, which now have a gender imbalance weighted toward women. The number of women heading households in Chile is on the rise.
Progress is still needed to improve the status of Chilean women within the family context. Early marriage and early pregnancies are common, reflecting the fact that the minimum legal age for marriage is just 12 years for women and 14 years for men. A 2004 United Nations report estimated that 12% of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.
Chilean law stipulates that the mother and father share responsibility for their children, but when both parents live together, Parental authority is held by the father. After a separation, such authority is held by the parent to whom custody has been granted; unless there are extenuating circumstances, this is generally the mother. Divorce has been authorized in Chile only since 2004. In the matter of inheritance, women are free to inherit and are legally entitled to execute or administer wills in the same way as men. A law passed in 1998 amended the Civil Code with regard to filiations, granting equal rights to all children (irrespective of the status of their parents) and improving the inheritance rights of widows.
Chile has made some progress in protecting the physical integrity of women, yet Violence against women remains quite common. In urban areas, half of women in relationships have suffered some form of violence at the hands of their partner; the situation is estimated to be more severe in rural regions. The government recently passed a new law that broadened the definition of domestic violence, made provisions for mechanisms to protect victims and restricted the possibility of informal settlements between the affected parties. An additional law was passed in 1999 that extended the legal definition of Rape and increased the punishments for offenders. The 1999 law also removed the criterion that a woman had to be of “good reputation” to be considered a victim. Spousal rape is also punishable under the law in Chile. There is no evidence to suggest that Female genital mutilation is practiced in Chile, nor that it is a country of concern in relation to Missing women.
The state guarantees the civil liberties of Chilean women; there are no reported restrictions on their Freedom of movement or Freedom of dress. Ownership Rights The ownership rights of women are quite well respected in Chile, particularly in relation to Access to land. In 1992, the government initiated a program to distribute land, with a priority for granting title deeds to poor farmers and female heads of households. Women received just under half of the land distributed, but were generally given smaller plots of land. For married women in Chile, access to property other than land is contingent on the type of marriage settlement under which they wed. In the past, ownership rights were granted solely to husbands. A new law, adopted in 1994, introduced the option of spouses having joint ownership. Women face several restrictions in terms of Access to bank loans, even though they generally have a better repayment rate than men. Several banks have created loans specifically for women, who represent more than one-third of borrowers in Chile.
Despite impressive economic and social progress, the level of women’s participation in the economy is among the lowest in Latin America. Covering a long and narrow strip between the Andes range and the Pacific coastline, Chile stands among the wealthier nations of the Latin America and Caribbean region. One of the mainstays of the country’s economic prosperity is exports of fruits, a business in which Chilean are unrivaled throughout the southern hemisphere.
In the 1980s, temporary jobs during fruit harvests presented an economic opportunity for indigenous women, poor women from nearby towns, and women who worked alongside their husbands in the countryside, but who earned no income. However, as temporeras, they have no signed work contract and are obliged to labor long hours in the hot sun for low wages, exposed to pesticides and prejudice.
Another informal activity which absorbs the labor of many women is gathering seaweed for export. After the earthquake and tsunami of February 2010, more women were enlisted to assist in rebuilding the economies of towns where livehoods are dependent upon fisheries and seaweed gathering.
In Chile, as in other countries of the southern Cone, efforts of governments, the international community and local civil society are barely sufficient to ensure placement of women in the workforce and overcome gender discrimination. Despite significant economic growth, and rates of formal sector employment much higher than this in neighboring countries, Chile remains the Latin American country with lowest participation of women in the workforce.
Such gender disparities are, for example, apparent in relation to job quality. Like working women in other Southern Cone countries, Chilean women tend to hold only the worst jobs; 40% of which are in the services sector which does not imply jobs in high technology or computing but domestic work, restaurants, cleaning.
Throughout the region for performing exactly the same work men earn 20% more than women. This, however, represents an improvement in relation to ten years ago since, at that time in the Southern Cone, men earned 30% more. Among those with higher schooling levels, this 30% wage gap persists.
Chile has enacted legislation to ensure equal pay for women. The government is now disseminating information so that women know their rights and the obligation of their employers. Complaints of gender discrimination have also been raised in relation to then pension reforms of 1981. Specialists from the National Economic Development Research Center with support from UN Women established that, under the new pension system, women receive 32% less than men.
Life expectancy for women is longer than for men, and women retire five years earlier, at the age of 60, and this implies that their accumulated savings must provide income for a greater number of years, after their retirement.
Chilean courts are now examining the first discrimination case relating to retirement issues, brought by teachers. Aside from the problem of lower pensions, she points out that although women account for 72% of the national teaching staff, they rarely rise to senior positions.
In order for Chilean women to attain higher positions or find better professional employment, men must come to the realization that they share responsibility for domestic chores. The government is investing in awareness building through a free child care program, and other related actions.
But Chile stands out for having a larger proportion of women in the workforce. This gap has attracted immigrants from Latin America.
Although women are now entering professions that were traditionally male preserves, only 5% reach higher management positions in Chilean corporations. The figure in other countries of Latin America is 19%.
In the News
- IPS gender wire 14.05.2010 : Chile : Gender Equity Progress Blocked by Hard-Core "Machismo"
- CEDAW (2004), Considerations of reports submitted by states parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; fourth periodic report of States parties - Chile, CEDAW/C/CHI/4, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
- CESR (2004), Considerations of reports submitted by state parties under article 16 and 17 of the covenant : concluding observations of the committee on economic, social and cultural rights, E/c.12/.1/Add.105
- FAO, IFAT, ILC (2004), Rural Women’s access to Land and Property in Selected countries, progress towards achieving the aims of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, Report Gender and Population Division (FAO) ,Technical Advisory Division (IFAD, and International Land Coalition (ILC)
- JICA (2006), Chile : country gender profile, Japan International Cooperation Agency
- MINISTERE DE LA SANTE DU CHILI (2000), Estudio National de comportamiento sexual. Primeros Analisis 2000, Commission nationale sur le SIDA, Agence Nationale de recherche sur le SIDA, Chile, 2000
- MORRISON, A.R. and M.B. ORLANDO (1999), Social and Economic Costs of Domestic Violence: Chile and Nicaragua, in Morrison, Andrew R. and Maria Loreto Biehl, eds. 1999. Too Close to Home: Domestic Violence in the Americas. Washington D.C.: Inter-American Development Bank
- SERNAM (2001), Detection and Analysis of the prevalence of family violence, Santiago, 2001.
- UN (2004), World Fertility Report, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. New York : UN
- UNIFEM (2003), Not a minute more, ending violence against women. New York.
- US. DEPARTMENT OF STATE (2006), Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Chile, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
The Women, Business and the Law
Where are laws equal for men and women?
The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.
For detailed information on Chile, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Chile page.
The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database
The FAO Gender and Land Rights Database contains country level information on social, economic, political and cultural issues related to the gender inequalities embedded in those rights. Disparity on land access is one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas, and it jeopardizes, as a consequence, rural food security as well as the wellbeing of individuals and families.
The Database offers information on the 6 following Categories:
- National legal frame
- International treaties and conventions
- Customary law
- Land tenure and related Institutions
- Civil society organizations
- Selected Land Related Statistics
For detailed information on Chile, please visit the report on Chile in the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database.