Being a woman in Latin America: barriers and challenges to economic empowerment

“We have to keep on working to reduce gender equality in Latin America”, according to Phumzile Mlambo, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. This statement opened the UN’s latest report about women in the region.

The publication entitled ‘Progress of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean 2017’ tackles the challenges and opportunities for women’s economic empowerment in a region with more than 18 million women who are dedicated to domestic work, most of which are done informally, with limited rights and very little security.

During the last decades, society has experienced a breakthrough in reducing inequality and eliminating the gender wage gap which allowed the Latin American region to see advances in empowerment. Despite the achievements, the report shows that there are still latent inequalities. For example, even though the governments have put in place actions that lifted millions out of poverty, the percentage of poor women actually increased. Research explains this through the limited economic empowerment of women in markets and in their homes. Also, studies revealed that gender inequality is predetermined by socioeconomic disparities, as well as geographic and ethnic differences.

To better understand how the barriers to empowerment vary according to these factors, the report presents three scenarios:

Committed to women’s empowerment, the BBVAMF has recently met with UN Women to discuss the challenges that they face in the Latin American region, and to jointly work out plans to advance towards gender equality.

Progress of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean 2017
UN Women