Women entrepreneurs who export or want to export face significant barriers due to the structural challenges of gender inequality. Among these barriers, are the lack of access to financing, technology, and information networks, the underrepresentation of women in business meetings and trade missions, and the overload of unpaid and care work.
This was one of the reflections shared by Nicole Bidegain Ponte, Social Affairs Officer of ECLAC's Division for Gender Affairs, in her presentation at the discussion panel “Tools to integrate gender parity in the value chain”. The event, organized by the Business Alliance for Development (AED, Spanish acronym) of Costa Rica, was a space for feedback and the exchange of good practices between companies to promote gender equality. Representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank, Banco Pichincha of Ecuador, and some women-led enterprises also participated.
Bidegain Ponte stressed that in Costa Rica the employment content associated with exports is more concentrated in the service sector and agriculture, livestock, and agroindustry. However, the chemical and pharmaceutical sector, essential for a transformative recovery, is not very employment-intensive and women represent only 38.1% of the employment content associated with the sector's exports. In addition, she highlighted that the business services and chemical and pharmaceutical sectors have more people employed in highly skilled occupations, more people affiliated or contributing to the social security system, and fewer people working in companies of less than 5 employees than the agriculture sector.
The Social Affairs Officer of ECLAC's Division for Gender Affairs pointed out that international trade is more than an end in itself, it is a means for sustainable development with gender equality. However, for trade to contribute to women’s economic autonomy and the sustainability of life, it is necessary to diversify the productive and trade structure, strengthen regional integration, invest in the driver’s sectors of the economy, and advance strategies to upgrading in the regional and global value chains with the full participation of women.
This approach, as mentioned by Nicole Bidegain Ponte, is an aspect to be analyzed within the framework of the care society, the theme of the XV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will take place from the 7th to the 11th of November 2022, in Buenos Aires.
See the recording of the III session of the Business Roundtable for Gender Equality: Tools to integrate gender parity in the value chain (available in Spanish).
See the presentation “Challenges and opportunities for the economic autonomy of women in value chains” (available in Spanish).