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Economic Opportunity

Women’s personal financial growth and inclusion in the local economy enables self-sufficiency and independence, providing them with agency to make decisions for themselves. However, women spend more time on unpaid work than men, work in the informal sector at higher rates, and earn lower wages even if they have higher levels of education.


Women in Managerial Positions

This indicator measures the proportion of women in managerial positions across the city. Here, we seek to provide some insight into women’s power in decision making and the economy.

Case Study from Los Angeles

The gender gap in management occupations in Los Angeles has significantly reduced in the last seven years from 27.6% to 14.8%. Today, women in Los Angeles make up over 46% of management occupations, compared to a national gender gap of 15.8% – over twice the gap in LA. At this rate, gender parity will be achieved within the next five years!

  • 46%

    of management positions in LA are held by women, which is more than half the national gender gap.


Labor Force Participation

This indicator measures the number of people in the labor force (both employed and actively looking for employment) as a share of the total working-age population. Precise indicator definitions vary.

More than unemployment rates, the labor force participation rate can be used to study trends among different segments of the population and show where the labor market succeeds or fails in incorporating the working-age population.

Across the network, women’s participation in the labor force remains lower than men’s.

Case Studies from London, Buenos aires, and los angeles

A surprising trend played out in London during the pandemic. Between 2019 and 2021, London’s employment gender gap fell sharply from 14.7% to 8.92%. As the employment rate for women continued to rise, the employment rate for men decreased. But between 2021 and 2022, the employment rate bounced back for men and fell again for women. It is important to note though, that while this trend has captured our interest, pay gap calculations during the pandemic are difficult to interpret, because they include people on furlough and job losses were not spread evenly across the working population or across different types of job.

Gender pay gaps are tracked as part of the Mayor of London’s Economic Fairness measures, a dataset that allows the Greater London Authority (GLA) to measure how fair and inclusive the local economy is. Here the GLA consider i) pay differentials, fair employment practices and representation; ii) access to employment and life chances such as education and skills development; and iii) living standards, including cost of living, poverty, and financial inclusion.

In Buenos Aires, a unique indicator system, El Sistema de Indicadores de Género BA (SIGBA), measures women’s economic autonomy, as well as their physical safety and decision-making powers, in order to understand the state of gender equity in the city. In place since 2017, this tool has helped local officials develop a clearer understanding of gaps and challenges for residents, and advance women’s rights through public policy. This information is used across the municipal government, and feeds into the strategic goals of the Secretary for  Gender Equality. We talk about it more here.

Through this approach, Buenos Aires has been decreasing the gender gap in labor force participation and formal labor wages while increasing economic opportunity for all. 

In LA, Labor force participation has remained stable over the last 7 years, but the gender gap has decreased significantly from 12.7% to 9.3%.

Across all CHANGE cities, we know that closing gender pay gaps requires substantial investments in removing the barriers that prevent women from entering the workforce, including the overburden of unpaid domestic and care work.


Time Spent on Paid and Unpaid Work

This indicator measures the average daily time spent on paid and unpaid work. The burden of unpaid work on women is an obstacle to equal participation in the labor market and access to economic resources that would increase their autonomy. Women spend less time on paid work and almost twice as much time on unpaid work across the network.

Case Studies from Bogotá & Barcelona

Today, Bogotá has one of the best care systems in Latin America. This is because, in 2020, Mayor Claudia Lopez launched a Municipal System of Care for the first time in the city’s history. The system is based on three goals: recognizing the work done by caregivers, redistributing care work between men and women, and reducing the number of unpaid care work hours undertaken by caregivers. 

Mayor Lopez launched this program to respond to the strong disparity between unpaid work time amongst women compared to men. For instance, 9 women out of 10 do unpaid work activities, compared to 7 out of 10 men. In fact, on average, women spend more than 2 hours and 35 minutes compared to men in these activities.

  • 9 women out of 10 do unpaid work activities…

  • Compared to 7 out of 10 men, who do unpaid work activities.

In Barcelona, the city ensures the right to provide and receive care in decent, quality conditions. In 2021 a Government Measure for the Democratization of Care was launched. The measure is structured around four strategic action areas:

  1. Recognizing care work as a central part of the city’s socioeconomic life.
  2. Promoting various social stakeholders’ shared responsibility for ensuring the right to receive and provide decent, quality care.
  3. Reducing the social expectations that determine who provides and receives care.
  4. Promoting the empowerment of the people who receive or provide care.

It is then deployed across 68 actions aimed at putting care at the center of municipal policies.

  • In 2021, over 20% of women in Barcelona were more likely than men to be spending over 22 hours a week doing domestic labor.

Read the

Caring Cities Full Report


Gender Wage Gap

This indicator is calculated by dividing the median earnings of full-time working women in the formal economy, by their male counterparts. This figure captures some discrimination but also differences in jobs, hours worked, years of experience, and educational attainment. Occupational differences, differences in hours, and family caregiving responsibilities are the primary drivers of the wage gap.

Case studies from Buenos Aires and London

Here we can see examples of pay gaps in two CHANGE cities, Buenos Aires and London. Buenos Aires conducts an annual household survey of its population which informs a comprehensive gender data indicator system. The Greater London Authority (GLA) calculates the gender pay gap across all employee jobs based in London, instead of comparing levels of pay between men and women in the same job.


Education Attainment

Here we seek to understand the completion rates of primary, secondary, and tertiary education by gender.

At the global level, most countries have achieved gender parity for primary school completion rates. Moreover, girls have higher levels of education than boys in many regions. However, challenges remain in low-income countries and in labor market outcomes for women worldwide.

Case studies from Los Angeles, Mexico City & Barcelona


Poverty Level

Traditional measures of poverty are not ideal to measure gender equity because they apply to households rather than individuals. Better measures of poverty are needed to shed light on gender gaps in poverty. Nonetheless, even using this inadequate measure, more women than men live in households that are below the poverty line across CHANGE cities. Strategies to combat poverty should prioritize the economic empowerment of women through better care systems, supporting the informal economy, and addressing gender inequalities in labor force participation.

case studies from Los Angeles, Barcelona, London & Buenos Aires

Here, in four CHANGE cities, we can see the proportion of the total population living in poverty disaggregated by sex.



Qualitative indicators

CHANGE also works with cities to understand what policies, programs, and initiatives contribute to women’s economic wellbeing. If you look through our policy library, you will see how CHANGE cities contribute to the following:

  • What We Measure:

    Economic Opportunity

    1. Are there established process(es) or systems to track the amount of city contracts with women-owned businesses?

    2. Does the city provide free and operational childcare facilities?

Photo of Barcelona skyline

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