GDP growth in Latin America and the Caribbean affects gender equality, shows ECLAC report

Although progress has been made, the region's economy is not yet stable to overcome gender disparities

Women leadership
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The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, known as ECLAC, has launched the report “The autonomy of women in changing economic scenarios,” addressing the current status of labor, social, cultural and fiscal barriers to promote policies that pursue gender equity and close the gaps between women and men. Information is from the Colombian newspaper La Republica

Financial inclusion, wages, household composition and the response of governments to violence against women are evaluated in the study, and, although the outcome showed that progress has been made in the administration of policies that allow changing the landscape, ECLAC report most important conclusion is that the weak growth of regional GDP still doesn’t allow the consolidation of great opportunities for women, whether in business and management or in everyday life.

“Gender inequalities are an obstacle to sustainable development, and changes in the scenario facing the region are a manifestation of the urgency of moving decisively towards development styles that contemplate gender equality and the autonomy of women,” said Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), according to the media outlet. 

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Gender gaps like the difference in terms of income and financial activity are quite unsettling: while the report details that a man (over 15 years old) can reach US$ 22, on average, for one working hour, a woman reaches US$ 15.8 in the same period, somewhat higher than the average US$ 12, 9 that an afro-descendant woman would receive. Financial inclusion, as well as income, is still an issue: the results showed that 50.6% of women have a savings account, whereas the same rate for the male gender is 56.6%. The indicator is asymmetrical, since according to the document, 23.9% of men in the region ask for formal loans, while 18% of women do so.

“By implementing appropriate public policies, these trends can represent a great opportunity to move towards a new development style that puts gender equality at the center. However, inequality in the region is very conditioned by the productive structure and, if it is not modified, these changes could make it difficult to close gaps,” Bárcena added.

“Colombia is satisfied with its results, but comparisons are being made with countries that are not [satisfied], because although the country shows better indicators than those of other Latin American nations, we still do not have more than 30% of women in positions directives ”, pointed out Mía Perdomo, CEO of Aequales, a consulting social enterprise created by young women with the purpose of cutting gender gaps in the workplace and promote women’s leadership.  

“There may be a lack of confidence in the ability of women to promote and manage successful businesses. Marital status, fertility or household structure can also constitute discrimination factors against women to access financing. However, and despite all this, women are better payers and have fewer rejected checks when using checking accounts than men,” the report concludes. 

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