We examined how levels women’s empowerment differ across cities and how it is linked to differences in infant mortality in Latin American cities.

For the attention of: Grass root organization promoting women’s rights in cities; Local and national policy stakeholders involved in the creation and enforcement of laws related to women’s rights in Latin America; International agencies oriented to women and child wellbeing (UN Women, UNICEF, Women’s Economic Imperative, PAHO, CEPAL)

The problem: Women’s economic and social development are beneficial not only for women but to society in general. Higher levels of women’s empowerment in society can benefit children independently from the maternal role of women. How levels of women’s empowerment in cities explain differences in infant mortality locally has not been deeply explored, particularly in Latin America.

What we did and why: We created two scores of women’s empowerment (women’s labour force participation and educational attainment among women) in 286 cities from Latin America and examined how these measures varied across Latin American cities and how their levels were related to levels of infant mortality in cities.

What our study adds: We found that:

  • Women’s empowerment levels and infant mortality rates are heterogenous across Latin American cities
  • Higher women’s labour force participation in cities is linked to lower infant mortality rates
    -In Low income countries, cities with higher women’s educational attainment show lower infant mortality rates
  • Promoting women’s empowerment at local levels can contribute to reduce infant mortality rates

Implications for city policy and practice: Fostering girl’s education and women’s social and economic participation through local intervention should be considered as part of the strategies oriented to reduce and prevent infant deaths.

For further information: 

Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean is a subsidiary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and is the main regional intergovernmental forum on women’s rights and gender equality within the United Nations system.

Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean: The Division for Gender Affairs plays an active role in gender mainstreaming within regional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. It works in close collaboration with the national machineries for the advancement of women in the region, civil society, the women’s movement, feminist organizations and public policymakers, including national statistics institutes. A good source of data and reports.

Women’s Economic Imperative:  ​WEI catalyzes and constructs initiatives that enhance women’s economic participation and human capital as foundations of economic growth and equitable, prosperous and peaceful communities. ​Focused on driving transformational initiatives to support concrete and sustainable progress for women as economic actors. Tweeting at @WEIForward.

Full research article: Women’s empowerment and infant mortality in Latin America: evidence from 286 cities  by Ana Ortigoza, Ariela Braverman, Philipp Hessel, Vanessa Di Cecco, Amélia Augusta Friche, Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa and Ana V. Diez Roux.