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Gender Equity in Labor Relations

Right to vote, representation, combat harassment and violence (sexual, domestic and obstetric), guarantee of sexual freedom and reproductive rights, access to education, respect for gender diversity, race and ethnicity are some of the struggles historically fought by women to be recognized socially as subjects of rights[1].

Despite the various advances, especially the consecration in the constitutional text of equal rights and obligations between men and women (Art. 5, I, of the Federal Constitution), our[2] society still carries several remnants of a patriarchal structure that centralizes power in the figure of man and subjugates women, removing rights or, when not, reducing them.

In this wake of discussion that recent Public Civil Action filed by the Public Ministry of Labor deserves attention.

After promoting investigation in Public Civil Inquiry instituted from anonymous complaint, the attorney Carolina Marzola Hirata led to the assessment of the Judiciary complaint of discriminatory measure adopted by pharmaceutical company. Discrimination would reside in the fact that, in granting the health care plan to its workers, the company only allowed male workers to include their spouses as dependents, but there was no possibility for female employees to do the same, except in homoaffective unions.

The company defended itself by arguing that there is no collective rule that requires the granting of the benefit and that the differentiation adopted stems from an administrative, corporate, contractual and financial issue, without discriminatory intent.

However, in view of the evidence presented, the Judgment of the 1st Labor Court of Campinas understood that "although there is no obligation to grant health insurance, the legal order does not admit sexism" and that the company "naturalized and internalized the typical sexism of a patriarchal society marked by machismo, where the thought that women are inferior and more fragile than men and that they cannot have their own rights and guarantees."

The decision is still categorical in concluding that "liberality does not authorize any discriminatory measure. That is, it is not because there is no legal imposition that the employer can, by creating a benefit, discriminate against their employees for gender reasons."

The case warns us: companies need to adopt and promote measures that completely eradicate all traces of gender discrimination that still persist in their environments. Equality report prepared by the World Economic Forum[3] estimates that it will still take approximately 250 (two hundred and fifty) years for real gender equality in the labor market.

Susana Ayarza[4] contextualizes: although women are the majority of the population of Brazil, live longer, have more formal education and occupy 44% of the job vacancies registered in the country, the number of unemployed is 29% higher than that of men and, when we talk about participation in leadership positions, they only occupy 2.8% of the highest positions.

Therefore, as Thaíssa and Marcelo Weishaupt Proni point out[5], even though society has progressed, that part of women enjoy greater legal protection and have gained greater economic autonomy, gender inequalities still persist in the professional sphere.

Not unlike the judiciary itself mirrors this reality. A survey conducted by the National Council of Justice showed that only 38% (thirty-eight percent) of the judiciary is composed of women, even though they represent more than 50% (fifty percent) of the Brazilian population[6]. Therefore, the Internal Affairs General of Labor Justice has sought to promote and implement, in all instances, policies related to gender equality, which is in line with Resolution No. 255/2018 of the CNJ, which establishes the National Policy for Encouraging Female Institutional Participation in the Judiciary.

The pandemic highlighted the existing gulf in gender inequality. The decrease in formal work in areas of greater participation of women's work (service sector and domestic work) and the significant increase in the social burden imposed by the double working day (household tasks and child care concomitantly with remote work) confirmed the need to develop political measures of co-responsibility of the State, Private Initiative and society itself[7].

It is necessary to rethink the social division of labor, as well as the perspective from which the inequalities between genders are analyzed, in addition to the necessary clippings of class and race and the role occupied by man in this social dynamic – since, being the majority in management positions and leadership positions, they are fundamental to obtain the social recognition of women as subjects of rights.

The path is arduous, but it will only be possible to achieve the necessary gender equity through public policies, concrete measures adopted by civil society and a paradigmatic change of mentality.


[2] Art. 5, I – men and women are equal in rights and obligations under this Constitution.







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