Given the huge challenges Latin America faces in 2020, achieving true equality between men and women by the end of this decade might seem impossible – or perhaps, like a dream that must be postponed. .
But despite the old macho stereotypes, this is an area where the region has already made significant progress over the past 20 years. Consider that women now hold a third of the seats in national legislatures in Latin America, and about half in Mexico, Bolivia and Costa Rica. The US figure, by comparison, is only 24%. A general measure of the World Economic Forum, which takes into account economic, health and educational disparities, places the gender gap in Latin America at 28.8%, up from 33% in the mid-2000s, and better than the world average . Today, there are more women than men in universities in the region.
It’s a record to build on, and a tonic to the general sense of hopelessness that permeates the region today. But as with so many other things, progress is now being reversed due to the pandemic. Studies show that women do an even higher percentage of unpaid household chores like cleaning and babysitting, forcing them to put aside work opportunities. Some 15% of households report an increase in domestic violence since the start of the pandemic. Unemployment is rising faster among women and many are dropping out of school, hurting the future of an entire generation.
This question of QA is a special report built around five recommendations to relaunch the quest for gender equality.
We start with a call to improve access to finance for women entrepreneurs, who currently represent only 23% of loan portfolios in Latin America, although they are just as likely as men to start a business in many countries. Enroll more low-income women in STEM programs would open up the most promising professional fields of tomorrow. Improving the protection of women against violence is a necessary condition for meeting many other challenges; so is get men to do their fair share of household chores and care. And finally, this issue is full of inspiring stories of women who have succeeded through thick and thin, living proof of the need to find new and creative ways to present women as role models so that future generations can follow their example. Our strengths in coverage Epsy Campbell Barr, the vice-president of Costa Rica and the first Afro-descendant woman on the continent to be elected to such a position of power.
A recent McKinsey report puts the economic dividend of gender equality in Latin America at some $ 1.1 trillion. It would be a huge boost in the midst of the biggest recession in modern memory, but there are more reasons than money to do it. Equality shouldn’t wait.
Improve access to finance for women entrepreneurs
Find creative new ways to portray women as role models
Enroll more low-income women in STEM programs
Getting men to do their fair share of housework and care
Improving the protection of women against violence
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The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its editors.