Promoting policies to change gender norms and improve women’s access to decent work in Brazil

December 14, 2023 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A team of local PEP researchers shared their findings on how to overcome the barriers that women face in accessing decent work as a special session of the 51st National Economics Meeting in Brazil.

December 14, 2023 – A team of local PEP researchers organised a special session at the 51st National Economics Meeting to share their findings on the barriers that are preventing women in Brazil from accessing decent work.

Recognising the critical role that decent work plays in advancing gender equity and economic growth, the session attracted more than 30 policymakers, stakeholders and academics for a discussion on how to help women overcome these barriers.

Key policy stakeholders in attendance included representatives of the National Treasury Secretariat, the Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services, and the Ministry of Finance, as well as the President of ANPEC—the conference organiser—who is proposing a research agenda on Women's Access to the Labor Market for the Ministry of Science and acting as a policy advisor to the Ministry of Labor.

Team member Synthia Santana presented the findings, policy implications and recommendations for the next steps from the team’s PEP project on Addressing context-specific barriers to female labour force participation in decent work in Brazil.

She highlighted how social gender norms (within and outside the workplace) are the foundation to the barriers that women in Brazil face when trying to access decent work. For example, the opening hours of public childcare facilities are often not compatible with full-time formal-sector employment, with mothers expected to sacrifice their career options to take up the slack.

Based on the project team’s analysis, Dr. Santana explained how increasing the availability of affordable and work-compatible public daycare, extending paternity leave and implementing shared parental leave would be key actions to immediately improve women’s access to decent work in Brazil. These actions would also help redress the social division of parenting responsibilities as a step towards changing gender norms. Watch the team’s presentation on YouTube (in Portuguese).

Following the presentation, the audience discussed how the team’s policy recommendations could be implemented. In particular, the representative of the National Treasury Secretariat spoke on ways that policies could increase public daycare hours without compromising the federal budget. According to the research team, the main takeaway from the discussion was that social norms can be influenced by legislation.

In January 2024, Folha, a daily national newspaper in Brazil, published an op-ed written by the team (in Portuguese). In the article discussing the team’s recommendations, the authors call for legal frameworks to support a more gender-equal division of the household care responsibilities as part of efforts to improve women’s access to decent work and create a more equal society.


The team’s PEP research was featured as part of a special session discussing how economic research in Brazil has benefitted from the work of the winner of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Economics, Professor Claudia Goldin. The research team organised the session with financial and advisory support from PEP within the ANPEC conference.


Logo global affairs canada
Logo Hewlett Foundation
Logo Co-Impact
Logo IDRC - CRDI Canada
Logo Mastercard Foundation