“Despite great progress throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region, thousands of development projects ranging from agriculture to science and technology are prepared every year by public, private, nonprofit and multilateral entities with NO gender considerations […]” With this observation, the Inter-American Development Bank reflects on the current state of the gender mainstreaming process in the region. The article explains why, despite many efforts, there not enough breakthroughs that show the advances in gender equality.
Over time, organizations, decision makers and stakeholders realized how complex it is to actively engage in promoting gender equality all throughout the project cycle or development initiative. Many succumbed (and they still do) to the temptation of considering any “woman’s component” as an indicator that gender mainstreaming is advancing (ie, increasing the proportion of female beneficiaries, incorporating women in campaigns, etc…).
Gender mainstreaming seeks to assess the implications for women and men of any planned action. As women take a complete and active participation in projects and initiatives, they are given space to share their concerns and experiences. It’s one way to make sure that men and women equally benefit from the positive impacts, and inequality is reduced.
Aware of this reality, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation is implementing a gender mainstreaming strategy in all of its institutions, that would enable them to provide better services to the two million plus entrepreneurs it supports in five Latin American countries. It considers the distinctive features of 60% of its loan clients, the female entrepreneurs. With access to tailored financial products and services, skills training and networks, it also intends to cater to the needs and challenges faced by this segment.
Thanks to its innovative model to increase their financial inclusion and facilitate their economic empowerment, the Foundation is contributing to gender equality. In fact, its efforts have been acknowledged by the Organization of the American States (OAS) through the “2018 Americas Corporate Citizen Award”, which recognizes its work towards driving women’s empowerment in the most unequal region of the planet.