Topic of Interest
|View other topics >>||Suggest a topic>>|
Women and the Current Economic Crisis*
It is estimated that the crisis, now affecting the entire planet, will increase poverty levels in Latin America and the Caribbean. To better understand this, it is important to remember that, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), almost one-third of the region’s population, more specifically 192 million people, live in poverty, and 75 million in extreme poverty.
In other words, the number of poor people could grow to 13 million by 2010. At the same time, we know that most of the poor people are women. This fact is alarming since it is estimated that in the previously described context, unemployment among women will increase significantly.
This reality demands us to consider in the discussions and decisions about the crisis, as well as in the solutions to survive and overcome it, that the impact of this reality is different on men than on women. The impact is more profound and considerable for women.
This is a result of various factors. In spite of the region’s increasing participation of women in the labor market, it does not necessarily translate to formal employment, good pay, and with the conditions that characterize a “decent job”. On the contrary, in addition to its low productivity, low social recognition, and lack of minimum social welfare benefits, most jobs are precarious, informal, low-paid and unsafe, concentrating on domestic services or extensions of it.
The salary gap between men and women is another disadvantage in the crisis and it takes place across all social standings. The same occurs with educational opportunities and access to better work positions. On the other hand, it is proven that the salary difference for the same type of job is greater among women with higher education. However, for the poorer segment of the population, less schooling has a greater negative effect on women’s possibilities for finding a job than on men’s.
Adding to the fact that approximately one-third of families are lead by one woman, situations of internal or border conflicts that force displacement, and other adverse conditions, are all circumstances that contribute to the perpetuation of inequities between males and females.
All that has been said means that the reduction of unemployment and the reintegration of women in the formal job market will not be achieved if there is no investment on them especially in the younger women.
The year 2010 has been declared as the Inter-American Year of Women by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS. This is another reason to expect that the efforts be focused on the development of capacity and economic autonomy of women. Part of the strategy for sustainable development that we should design should include the support of actions in this sense, which also foster women’s civic role. The current crisis represents an opportunity to examine and evaluate again, the role and the contribution of women and of men in sustainable development, under the principles of democracy, social justice, equality and equity.Lastly, considering that we cannot forget the urgency to boost women’s capacity to lead political and cultural changes, I would like to announce that in the CIM we have agreed to offer an online leadership course/workshop for women. Topics would include economic entrepreneurship, with the aim of amplifying women’s opportunities and participation in the advancement of their respective countries and the equal enjoyment of the results.
Minister-Director of The National Women's Service (SERNAM) of Chile
and current Inter-American Commission of Women President
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflecte those of the OAS or of its member states. The opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the authors.