Experts say normative frameworks insufficient for achieving gender equality in the Caribbean

Experts say normative frameworks insufficient for achieving gender equality in the Caribbean

Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) — Experts attending a seminar in Chile on women’s economic autonomy say that while normative frameworks are necessary, they are not enough to achieve substantive equality between men and women in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The current economic situation and the prospects for 2019 are not favourable for citizens in general, and for women in particular, to achieve greater economic autonomy,” said Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The Normative Frameworks for Women’s Economic Autonomy and Gender Equality seminar is being hosted by the World Bank group and ECLAC.

“That is why we are determined to break the statistical silence regarding women’s total work and inequality in income, wealth and full access to the labour world with all rights,” added Bárcena, stressing that “the elusive economic autonomy of women will continue to be one of ECLAC’s priorities.

“Gender inequality, in addition to being unfair, is profoundly inefficient. It is an obstacle that conspires against sustainable development. It is inefficient that in Latin America and the Caribbean women have higher education levels than men and face discrimination in labour markets.” Bárcena said that “this failure to take advantage of women’s capacities, and the glass ceiling that keeps them from accessing senior, decision-making posts, is a ceiling on our countries’ productivity”.

She said gender equality contributes to creating diverse work environments, driving innovation and narrowing structural gaps.

Bárcena said that women’s labour participation rate remains stagnant at around 52 per cent, while that of men is 76.6 per cent, and half of all employed women (51.4 per cent) work in low productivity-sectors with precarious labour conditions.

She said 11 per cent of women are employed for paid domestic work, a sector that has low wages, long workdays and greater levels of informality than other sectors of the economy.

In addition, regardless of the efforts made, the ECLAC executive secretary said women still receive salaries that are 16.1 per cent below those of men with the same profile.

Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the World Bank Group, Sandie Okoro, said that “at the World Bank Group, we believe gender equality is a cross-cutting development solution for ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.

“The report ‘Women, Business and the Law’ highlights that when women are protected from domestic violence, their life expectancy is longer; where there are public child-care services, women are more likely to be employed; where there are strong property rights, more women hold leadership positions in business; and where the law prohibits gender discrimination in access to credit, more women have accounts in financial institutions.”

ECLAC said it is currently supporting countries in the execution of the Montevideo Strategy for Implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda within the Sustainable Development Framework by 2030, agreed upon by the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2016.

“The first of the 10 pillars for implementation is precisely the normative framework,” ECLAC said, adding that it followed by institutional architecture; participation; capacity-building and -strengthening; financing; communication; technology; cooperation; information systems; and monitoring, evaluation and accountability.

Chile will host the 58th meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in January 2019 and the 14th Regional Conference in November of the same year.

Bárcena said the conference will be a space for governments, inter-governmental and United Nations system organizations as well as civil society to exchange viewpoints regarding “women’s autonomy in changing economic scenarios”.

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