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29 de January de 2018 Women entrepreneurs: an essential factor to achieve real gender equality
1img -  Women entrepreneurs: an essential factor to achieve real gender equality

Business and economic empowerment of women is a key factor in achieving gender equality and building modern, prosperous and inclusive societies.

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Modern societies seem to understand that the time has come for women to play a more equitable, just and central social role, contributing both to their empowerment and to the economic, social and political development of their countries.

 Campaigns such as #NiUnaMenos in several Latin American countries, #MeToo in the United States or #HeForShe globally are samples of a current trend of change that aims to redress the balance between men and women, especially in the workplace, family and in terms of security.

 In other words, they assert equal opportunities and same wages for the same job, a more equitable distribution of family roles, and an efficient prosecution of sexual abuse and gender violence.

 In the case of Latin America, where only 30 percent of women hold a checking account - compared to 50-60 percent of men -, there are still significant challenges in achieving a solid business world led by women. Necessary improvements include adapting legislation to ensure access and use of property, removing legal and cultural restrictions to ensure women are able to conduct businesses, financing policies, and the reduction of gender violence.

 “The social organization of the economy has been traditionally marked by a strong gender bias. The upshot is that many women start businesses motivated by need, not by opportunity,” explains Violeta Domínguez, Coordinator of the Gender Unit at CAF - development bank of Latin America.

 Domínguez believes that gender stereotypes around women’s skills, strength, leadership and motherhood generated perceptions and barriers that hinder the growth of companies led by women compared to those led by men.

 In an attempt to overcome the obstacles to women’s entrepreneurial development, the International Labor Organization (ILO) proposed the Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Interventions, with a view to empowering women economically and fostering growth of their companies.

 In the same vein, CAF is working with these interventions in order to ensure that women secure their economic autonomy through capacity building, tools and resources, so they are able to do business in a favorable environment for the development of their companies and enterprises.

 In addition, CAF has included the gender perspective in its financing strategies, to ensure that projects promote equity. CAF has also implemented financial and business training programs - through regional partnerships - and supports women’s organizations that mentor women entrepreneurs, and has signed agreements with financial institutions so that the lines of credit include the gender perspective.

 

Financial inclusion of women

 

According to a recent report by CAF, men in Latin America continue to have a larger savings capacity than women, but when women are empowered and take the reins of financial resources of the household, their management tends to be more efficient. In addition, people with low levels of education, residents of rural areas, young people and the elderly have the lowest financial capacity and, therefore, save less.

 Measures mentioned in the report to improve this situation include a proposal for governments to create unique strategies for each sector of the population, especially those with lower financial capability, in order to improve financial decisions of individuals, which would have a significant impact on poverty and the strengthening of the middle class.

 The report states that the use of formal mechanisms such as savings accounts improves the financial capabilities of individuals. Therefore, inclusion and financial training programs should be focused not only on knowledge transfer but also in raising awareness about the importance of household savings.

 Financial training can have a major impact on the well-being of families and on social inclusion, as it enables an effective use of financial products and helps people develop the skills to compare and select the products best tailored to their needs.

 

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