Apr 302011

The proportion of women in the workforce is increasing each year. By 2010 a full one-third (33.3%) of women were working compared to 29.9% in 2000. According to 2010 census data, the rate of economic participation of women is very closely linked to community size. In urban areas of over 100,000 population over 41% of women work. The percentage is 36% in cities with populations 15,000 to 100,000 and 29% in towns from 2,500 to 15,000. In rural areas, communities of under 2,500 inhabitants, the figure is 17%.

These official census figures do not count all the unpaid work women do in households, on farms and in family-operated enterprises. For this reason, these census figures paint a very inaccurate picture of the contribution that women make to the Mexican economy.

A recent OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) report found that Mexicans work an average of 10 hours a day, longer than people in any of other OECD member country. (The average for all OECD members is 8 hours a day.) These figure include both paid and unpaid work such as housework.  The figures show the importance of home and family in Mexico—the report points out that Mexicans also do the most work in the home (3 hours a day), mainly preparing meals. Just how important to the economy is all this unpaid work? The OECD report estimates that the total value of unpaid work is equivalent to a whopping 24% of Mexico’s GDP. Women are responsible for a large proportion of this unpaid but valuable contribution.

The percentage of households headed by women is on the rise. It increased from 20.6% in 2000 to 24.4% in 2010. The pattern among states, however, is not easy to explain. The Federal District leads with 31.4% of households headed by women, but Nuevo León (which is second to the Federal District in most socio-economic characteristics) is at the very bottom with only 19.5% of households headed by females. Other states at the top of the list are Morelos (27.4%), Guerrero (26.9%), Veracruz (26.6%), and Baja California (26.0%). Other states near the bottom are Chiapas (20.2%), Coahuila (20.9%), Zacatecas (21.1%), Aguascalientes (22.4%) and Yucatán (22.4%).

The percentage of households headed by women is influenced by many factors including widowhood, males or females migrating for work, and modernity with more young unmarried females living independently.

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