, COSTA RICA: Some rights of women in the labor sphere

COSTA RICA: Some rights of women in the labor sphere

Considerable progress has been made in recent years to integrate women into the workforce and even achieve parity in terms of their earnings, positions of leadership in companies, maternity and breastfeeding breaks, non-discrimination based on gender, and other aspects within the Costa Rican labor sphere. However, it is important to acknowledge that there is still a long way to go as significant disparities persist—not only in our country but globally. For instance, there remains a notable gap in the actual access of women to top executive positions within companies or in receiving fair compensation for their work.

Certain laws, such as those granting paternity leave, represent significant advancements that contribute to addressing the aforementioned disparities. With such legislation, the aim is for fathers of newborns or adopted children to actively participate in their care at home, not only for the child’s well-being but also for the mother’s. Paternity leave is also considered a support mechanism for mothers and not solely a right for fathers. In our country, a law granting this type of leave for 8 business days distributed over 4 weeks was approved. While this is indeed progress, a deeper shift is needed beyond mere legislation. There must be a change in mindset within our society, moving away from a social framework where patriarchy has historically shaped Latin American culture for centuries.

Re-educating social norms is essential, starting within the household itself, through leading by example and assigning household tasks from an early age without regard to gender. If a child grows up seeing their father actively involved in domestic and caregiving duties alongside their partner, rather than conforming to the traditional idea that men should be served by women or that women exist solely to serve men, these paradigms will gradually shift with increased social awareness. Thus, paternity leave, as discussed, will have fulfilled its primary purpose—not only granting a right to men due to their newly acquired fatherhood but also acknowledging the support that their partners can provide during this phase of motherhood.

Costa Rica has taken a small step forward, but further progress is imperative. Achieving equality in earnings, working conditions, positions of power, and opportunities remains an ongoing historical debt even in the 21st century. A 2022 World Bank report highlighted that 2.4 billion women worldwide lack the same economic opportunities as men, with an economic gap of USD 172 trillion. It noted that 178 countries have barriers to women’s inclusion, 86 impose some form of labor restrictions, and 95 countries do not ensure equal pay for equal work. The areas assessed included mobility, employment, parenthood, entrepreneurship, compensation, assets, and retirement. These figures must change if we aspire to live in a more inclusive world.

Article published in Legal Industry Reviews magazine by:
Sylvia Bejarano
Costa Rica

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