Actualidad Panama

Women’s inclusion through the participation on the Board of Directors

Executive Decrees 236 and 241-A, July 11, 2018

Executive Decrees 236 and 241-A were published in the Official Gazette 28572-B on July 11, part of a domestic and international drive to improve the position of women in society, pushing through gender equality policies, empowerment and inclusion for all women.

Executive Decree 241-A, July 11, 2018

This decree provides the supporting regulation for Act 56, of July 11, 2017, setting the minimum quota of women for the boards of directors of public and private entities* at 30%. This proportion must be effective and in place within three years of the law being published. The move gives a boost to women's access to and involvement in decision making throughout the country. The regulation differentiates between the public and private sectors as follows:

  • Public sector: this kind of designation will be made by the appointment authority concerned. In cases where the law specifies that appointments should be made by a non-governmental body, a list of candidates of both genders will be submitted to the authority in question. In the case of a draw, the appointment authority should give the casting vote in favor of a candidate of the gender less represented on the Board of Directors.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), in its capacity as regulator, will monitor compliance with the gender quota stipulated by law, and will produce statistics and reports on this, which will be posted on its website and available to all.

  • Private sector: The regulations distinguish between:
    • Mixed capital companies: in this type of enterprise both the management body and the representatives of the entity's private capital must ensure that appropriate persons are appointed to the Boards, in compliance with the legal quotas.
    • Private capital companies: these must select the candidates best qualified for these positions, prioritizing candidates of the less represented gender on the Board of Directors if this candidate is as well qualified as the candidate of the more highly represented gender.

Financial auditors acting as regulators for the purposes of this decree, will lay down corporate governance and best practice standards about how these members are chosen. They will produce reports and questionnaires monitoring due compliance with the regulation. Such information will be public and remain permanently available on the website and other media.

Executive Decree 236, July 11, 2018

This regulation creates the National Council for Gender Parity, the main purpose of which is to promote the inclusion of women in the Panamanian labor market and foster education options for girls and women. This regulation has been passed bearing in mind the adoption by Panama of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 and its commitment to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The most important features of the regulation are as follows:

  • Composition. The Council will be made up of seven public-sector civil servants and seven figures from the private sector, whose participation will be honorary. The President of the Republic will choose which Minister will chair the Council and may appoint further members.
  • Functions. The most important functions of the Council are:
    • To support the measures and actions relating to women's participation in the labor force (with an emphasis on arts and humanities degrees) and the promotion of entrepreneurship giving opportunities to women, as well as to encourage the integration of a gender approach in the employment ecosystem.
    • To boost the uptake by girls, adolescents and young people of further studies and professions most in demand in the region.
    • To support programs such as: "The International Coalition's National Plan for Wage Equality", the implementation of Act 56, July 11, 2017 (women on Boards of Directors and regulated companies), to drive the Gender Parity Program (GPP) and incentivize the rise of women to decision-making positions.
  • Methodology of the sessions and decision making: Council sessions will be convened by the Council's Chair, or by at least seven of its members. Sessions may take place provided that more than half of the body's members are present.

Decision-making will be by consensus, but should a vote be necessary, resolutions will be carried by simple majority.

  • Steering committee: The Council will have a Steering committee composed of:
    • The United Nations Development Program
    • UN Women
    • International Labor Organization
    • National Institute for Women
    • National Institute for Job Training and Human Development
    • National Private Enterprise Council
    • Panamanian Business Executives Association
    • Association of Women Company Directors
    • Ciudad del Saber Foundation

*Central government institutions, regional governmental institutions, public enterprises, financial intermediaries and mixed capital companies.