The international community has recognized that equality across gender differences is vital to pursue social justice globally. Despite years of mobilization have placed discrimination, social stigmas, and gender-based violence on international agendas, fundamental challenges remain and evidence proves that not enough is done to prevent exploitation and to punish explicit or implicit forms of discrimination.  Politically, women and LGBT communities are underrepresented in leading positions and as voters. Discriminatory laws and unfair institutional settings build structural barriers, which cause the reproduction of social as well as stereotypes gaps in in terms of contacts and resources. At the same time, gender discrimination curtails access in shaping economic and social policies. 

This research project explores gender roles and their relations with inequalities in the developing world. The cluster connects insights from activists with the policy domain. Emphasis is placed on the interaction among local advocates, decision makers and policy outcomes. Specific areas of interest include: gender based violence, domestic inequalities and strategies to social empowerment, LGBT and masculinity.

Ongoing projects

A Policy Agenda to Reduce Gender Wage Gap in the Latin America Informal Economy


The informal economy or undeclared work is defined as any paid activities that are lawful in their nature, but which are not declared to the public authorities. Informal employment refers to a range of activities from undeclared work in formal enterprises to clandestine work by own account workers. Nevertheless, it excludes those activities involving illegal goods and services. This form of economy constitutes a challenge from a variety of perspectives - macroeconomic, microeconomic, employment and social. In emerging economies, the existence of this form of employment arrangements seem at the roots of wage penalties for people at the bottom of the wage distribution, while its effect is less pronounced at the top. 

Wage gaps between formal and informal economy are particularly severe for women. The ILO finds that gender pay gap for the Latin American and the Caribbean region is 19%. Women in this region are asking for more opportunities to earn a wage by being active within the labour market. Women’s participation in the labour market has considerably increased in the last 15 year. However, women in developing countries are often offered work in the informal economy, which are badly paid and do not guarantee access to any social safety nets.

This policy brief will attempt to present the empirical the latest empirical findings in this area. Meanwhile, the analysis will lead to a clear policy plan to help decision makers implementing feasible policies against gender wage inequality. The study tries also to provide solutions for improving women’s conditions within the informal economy. Finally, it tries to figure out right policy tools to increase women’s chances to find work opportunities in the formal economy. 

Project team

Simone Marino

Research Associate

Focus areas

  • Gender based violence
  • Gender empowerment
  • Labour, gender and social dynamics
  • Masculinity
  • Queer Studies