Gender Equality in Latvia

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Flag of Latvia
Population (in Mil.) 2.03
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 28.55
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.86
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.144927536
Fertility Rate 1.32
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.7
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 60.1
Women in Parliament (in %) 23
Human Development Index 44/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Gender Inequality Index 44/186
Gender Equity Index 18/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 28/128
Global Gender Gap Index 12/68
More information on variables


Research by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Latvia on working conditions and time use indicate that people in Latvia work long hours, are involved in several jobs and spend little time with their families. An important policy concern are the low birth rates and small families that is seen as a consequence of poor work-life balance. This has particular significance for women, who are still seen as the primary carers of children. While Childcare arrangements are generous and expanding, Latvia still needs to address the unequal working conditions of men and women. Although all legislation includes Gender equality principles, Latvia has no specific legislation prohibiting discrimination between men and women.

Social Institutions

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures gender-based discrimination in social norms, practices and laws across 160 countries. The SIGI comprises country profiles, a classification of countries and a database; it serves as a research, policy and advocacy tool for the development community and policy makers.

The SIGI covers five dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives: discriminatory family code, restricted physical integrity, son bias, restricted resources and assets, and restricted civil liberties. The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, early marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights.

In the 2014 edition of the SIGI, Latvia has low levels of discrimination against women in social institutions. It has lower discrimination in restricted access to resources and assets and higher discrimination in restricted civil liberties. Read the full country profile and access the data here:


Latvia has no specific anti-discrimination law or gender equality law. The new Labour Code, which entered into force in 2002,includes a general provision prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination on several grounds including sex. Furthermore, the relevant EC Directives on equal opportunities are transposed into the new Labour Code and the Law on Labour Protection, also from 2002.

As of January 1999 the Department on Social Policy Development at the Ministry of Welfare is the responsible agency that co-ordinates issue ofgender equality in the country. In 2000 the Division on Public Integration and Gender Equality was established.

Family Code

The traditional cultural base of the ancient ethnic inhabitants in Latvia is the patriarchal peasant family where the woman mostly holds the place of the mother. In this context the woman enjoys particular respect and receives privileges, however in the social structure of society the woman holds the position that is characteristic for the model of the patriarchal family.


In 2003, the total activity rate was 43.5% for women and 53.9% for men while the unemployment rate was 10.5% for women and 10.7% for men. In 2002 women constituted 58.3% of part-time employees. In 2003, women comprised 36.2% of total employees in the agricultural sector, 40.3% in the industrial sector and 53.7% in the service sector. Female monthly salaries in 2002 were 81.5% of male salaries. This Wage gap is due to the uneven distribution of employees of both sexes among the professional groups, industries, and the public and private sector. Men are more likely to be employed in sectors with relatively higher salaries, such as construction, wood processing and transport, while women work more often in sectors with lower salaries, such as education, healthcare, hotels, and catering in the public sector.

The remuneration for maternity leave is 100% of average earnings, which is payable for 112 calendar days (56 days before and 56 days after the expected date of childbirth). Each employee has the right to parental leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child.


In 2002, 69.4 % of all university graduates were women.

Political Empowerment

Women have had the right to vote since 1918. There exists no legislation or recommendations on quota systems for candidates, and since the 2007 elections, 21% of parliarment are women. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President between 1999-2007 was the first woman to hold this post.


The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women? 

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Latvia, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Latvia


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