Women – 54% of the population in Latvia


According to the provisional results of Population and Housing Census 2011, there are 1 million 121 thousand women in Latvia, and the number accounts for 54% of the total population in the country. Today we celebrate the International Women’s Day showing respect and love to all women, and also appreciating female achievements in the field of social, political and economic freedom.

The movement for equal rights began with women receiving higher education and voting rights. Women comprise 59% of the higher education institution graduates in the European Union (EU). In Latvia 65% of the higher education institution graduates are women; this makes Latvia along with the two other Baltic States, the leading countries. Significant gender differences can be observed in the choice of education field: ladies both – in Latvia and the EU comprise only 32% of all science, mathematics, computing and engineering graduates.

In comparison with other countries, the share of women in the total number of scientists in Latvia is rather high – 52.4% (32.9% on average the EU). Moreover, in future this ratio may increase, as in Latvia and other EU Member States the share of women in the total number of doctorates awarded every year is high. In 2011 in Latvia 193 females and 104 males received doctorate (65% and 35%, respectively).

Share of females in number of doctorates awarded in 2009

Increasingly more ladies take manager posts and participate in the decision-making process. An explicit illustration is the number of females taking the Saeima deputy seats. There were no women among the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Saeima deputies. The first female deputy during the 4th Saeima (1931–1934) was Berta Pīpiņa from the Democratic Centre. The number of women in the latest Saeima terms ranges over 20. Also the Latvian achievement in the field of gender equality – female president – is a remarkable fact. Even in the USA, considered to be a truly democratic country, no woman has ever been elected as president.

Until now female employment rate in Latvia has been rather high, slightly exceeding the EU average level. The share of employed females varies between economic activities – in education females account for 87% of the employed persons, nevertheless ladies work also in sectors traditionally considered to be masculine, e.g., women comprised 11% of all employed in construction.

Share of females in various economic activities in 2010*
(as per cent of employed persons)

*Females aged 15–74; sectors according to NACE Rev. 2.

There are some very specific occupations and posts where women are irreplaceable regardless of the sector. For example, at the beginning of school year 2010/2011 in Latvia there were 6985 females and only 8 males among the teaching staff of the pre-school education institutions.

In its turn, there were 11 women among 34 rectors of the higher education institutions. It allows concluding that, in respect to the leading posts, even in education sector where the total number of females is rather high, there is still a room for women to move up.