Achievements and challenges for gender equality in Latin America

Important steps have been taken, but there is still a long way to go for gender equity in the region

Achievements and challenges for gender equality in Latin America

Leer en español: Logros y retos para la igualdad de género en Latinoamérica

Gender inequalities are a global and deeply rooted issue, according to the report Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development , a study conducted by UN Women that focuses on analyzing gender equity in relation to the Millennium development goals. The results show that of the 17 MDGs that make up the agenda, there are manifestations of gender inequality related to each one of the dimensions.

But there is positive news in the case of Latin America: gender equity is closer than in the rest developing regions of the world .

70% of the gap is closed, and in some countries, statistics even show the total closure of the gender gap in schooling.

The main author of the report and head of the Research and Data section of UN Women, Shahra Razavi, explained that Latin America and the Caribbean experienced the highest increase in terms of female employment and participation in the labor force reported in developing regions during the last decade.

Positive aspects

The indicator that is experiencing the greatest growth in Latin America is female empowerment, characterized not only by female employment and participation in the labor force, but also by schooling. One of the countries listed as leaders in the region is Uruguay, thanks to its programs for the implementation of education, training and jobs.

During the last 20 years, Latin America has been a pioneer in the leadership of women in the public sector, and this is reflected in the fact that it was the first to approve a national quota law to increase the number of women in the legislative power, the only region in the world that has had six heads of state simultaneously exercising power and, currently, the second region with the highest percentage of parliamentarians, as recorded by El País.

The gender parity initiatives, public-private partnerships promoted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Economic Forum, which began in Chile and were replicated in Argentina, Panama and Peru, have a lot to do with this leadership, because thanks to them it has been possible to boost the labor participation of women and their leadership in decision making.

Negative aspects

However, the women's revolution in the region and their achievements are overshadowed by other aspects: violence against women, wage inequality and high rates of teen pregnancy are increasing.

Just as schooling and labor empowerment are recognized characteristics of women in the region, violence, fear, earning less than men and being too young a mother are also recognizable trends. Latin America has one of the highest rates of women who give birth between 15 and 19 years, second only to sub-Saharan Africa; 63 of every 1,000 births are of adolescents, with higher numbers in Central America and the Caribbean, and early motherhood is 5 times higher than early fatherhood. In addition, it is the region with the highest rate of feminicide.

And that is the great debt of Latin America with women: gender violence. According to UN Women, of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicides, 14 are in this region and it is estimated that 1 in 3 women over 15 years of age have suffered sexual violence, which reaches the category of an epidemic according to the World Health Organization.

But, although the figures are painful, countries have made great progress. 24 of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean already have laws against domestic violence, and 9 countries have enacted laws that typify a diverse range of expressions of violence against women, both in the private and public spheres.

Countries such as Mexico have campaigns like "Hazme el Paro", with which they seek to prevent violence and harassment against women in public transport, and Colombia has campaigns like "Ni con el pétalo de una rosa" that seek to eliminate violence against women in general.

Gender equality is increasingly a priority in the agendas of governments, which finally begin to understand that closing the gap is a fundamental factor to accelerate and achieve compliance not only of the 2030 Agenda, but of a sustainable future.


Latin American Post | Camila González C.

Translated from "Logros y retos para la igualdad de género en Latinoamérica"

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