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Investing in gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean for a better world

16 May 2024|Briefing note

At ECLAC we uphold that investing in gender equality and a care society is essential, not only for reasons of justice and inclusion, but also as a strategic investment to boost the economy and accelerate progress towards sustainable development.

On International Women’s Day, the ECLAC Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, noted that “today, on March 8, we recognize that the region is moving in the right direction, but very slowly to achieve the goals of real equality in 2030. Without a doubt, we can do more. With women's leadership, men's commitment, and political will, we can build a better society that prioritizes caring for people and the planet. Today's world requires bold changes and urgent transformations, starting with ending the historical exclusion of women in all areas of Society.”

Within this framework, ECLAC carried out various activities. ECLAC presented the document "The content and scope of the right to care, and its interrelation with other rights" at the hearing of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the second week of March in San José, Costa Rica, in the framework of the request for an advisory opinion that Argentina presented on January 20, 2023.

CSW 68: Advancing Gender Equality Globally and Regionally

During the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 68), from 11 to 22 March 2024 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Governments, United Nations entities and non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world, discussed the priority theme “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective”.

This occasion was an opportunity to contribute, from the commitments of the Regional Gender Agenda and other regional agreements and with the care society as a horizon, to global deliberations on the achievement of gender equality and the autonomy of women. The region contributed to the Declaration of the Ministers and High Authorities of the National Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women of Latin America and the Caribbean for CSW68. In it, the Ministers and high authorities of the region recognize that to achieve gender equality and guarantee the human rights of women, adolescents and girls in all their diversity, and the exercise of their autonomy, it is necessary to overcome the four structural knots of gender inequality: socioeconomic inequality and poverty; the sexual division of labor; the concentration of power; and patriarchal cultural patterns.

In this framework, the "High-level Dialogue: Bases for a Bi-regional Pact for Care between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union" was carried out, in association with the EU-LAC Foundation, UN Women, the Global Alliance for Care, the National Institute of Women of Mexico (INMUJERES) and the UNDP. The initiative seeks to promote cooperation in public policies and comprehensive care systems between the countries of both regions, through the exchange of advances and promising practices in care policies, systems, programs and benefits; of comparative studies and analysis on topics linked to care, among other topics. In addition, ECLAC accompanied the countries of the region in parallel events.

Gender Equality in Latin America & the Caribbean: Progress and Challenges

Finally, ECLAC together with UN Women presented the publication “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Regional Gender Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean: Gender Indicators to 2023”, a document that presents a descriptive analysis of gender indicators. for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda and the set of prioritized indicators for monitoring the SDGs in the region, in synchronization with the Regional Gender Agenda of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Among the findings, the document highlights the achievements in equality before the law in the region, marked by advances in the construction of institutions and legal frameworks for equality. However, we confirm the structural persistence of gender inequality. The data calls for action:

  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, one in four women does not have their own monetary income, in contrast to one in ten men.
  • Although women, on average, have a higher educational level, it is not reflected in their full participation in the economy, politics, science, and technology, among other fields.
  • Half of women are in the labor market, in contrast to the 75% participation of men, and women spend three times more time on unpaid domestic and care work.
  • There are 118 women in poverty and 120 women in extreme poverty for every 100 men in this situation, and the incidence of poverty is higher in indigenous, Afro-descendant populations and in rural areas.
  • It also highlights that violence against women and girls continues to be a serious problem, with at least 4,050 women victims of femicide in 2022.
  • In terms of political representation, women occupy only 36% of the seats in national parliaments and 27% in local deliberative bodies, still far from gender parity.

The publication becomes a reference instrument for decision-makers in the region, and constitutes a basis for deliberations during CSW 68, as highlighted in the Briefing on the 68th Session of the CSW 68 of February 28. The launch of the publication was carried out within the framework of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development 2024, in the parallel event The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Regional Gender Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean: Gender Indicators to 2023.

ECLAC calls to eradicate the income and time poverty that women face, invest to improve their living conditions and promote their full participation in the economy, politics, society and in science and innovation. But any progress will be incomplete without guaranteeing the right of women and girls to a life free of violence, discrimination, and child marriage (see the ECLAC reports on femicide and child marriage for more information.

Therefore, we reiterate our call to continue designing and implementing bold solutions that allow us to close gender gaps. We have the capacity, and the objectives are set. Investing in gender equality is investing in a better world.