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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

What is a Girl Worth?

By - Oct 8 2015

Day of the Girl Pic_SMALL
“Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights” -United Nations (UN) Resolution 66/170

On September 25, 2015 the IDB joined a Call to Action of DFID and UN Women on the economic empowerment of women and girls. This call coincided with the launch of the last UN Women report on the “Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights,” which states that while there is a strong and growing global consensus on the need to achieve gender equality and that we have made significant strides towards this goal, those achievements have not yet yielded equal opportunities for women and girls. To paint a picture of persisting inequality, consider these numbers:

  • Women bear disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work, devoting 1 to 3 hours more a day to housework than men; 2 to 10 times the amount of time a day to care (for children, elderly, and the sick), and 1 to 4 hours less a day to market activities.
  • Furthermore, women are more likely to work in informal employment. In Latin America and the Caribbean, over 54% of women in non-agricultural jobs are informally employed. In rural areas, many work in small-scale farming, almost always informal and often unpaid.
  • More women than men work in vulnerable, low-paid, or undervalued jobs. As of 2013, 49.1 per cent of the world’s working women were in vulnerable employment, often unprotected by labor legislation, compared to 46.9 per cent of men.

To reverse these figures, more needs to happen in terms of reducing occupational segregation and gender pay gaps; recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work; investing in gender-responsive social services; and strengthening women’s income security throughout the life cycle. Though the focus of such efforts is generally on women, it is essential that we also remember the girl. We must remember the girls who, from a young age, are labeled in ways that sometimes limit opportunities for engagement in math and science, and sports programs.

Why did the Bank join the call? Because at the IDB we are committed to transforming economic opportunities and outcomes for girls and women in Latin America and the Caribbean. We believe that by doing so we are uplifting girls and women everywhere, but it’s key to remember that the impact goes far beyond them. Investing in equality is good for business, as studies show that companies with three or more women in senior management score higher in effectiveness. It’s also good for families, as research indicates that increasing the share of household income controlled by women changes spending in ways that benefit children. And lastly, it’s good for economies, with estimates holding that closing employment and wage gaps could increase women’s income by 76%, contributing to a total global value of $17 trillion. These numbers answer our initial question—a woman is worth a whole lot. But how can we ensure we allow her to live up to her full value?

In the past few years, the Bank has supported women entrepreneurship, as well as women-led SMSEs and their access to finance. We have also worked with girls in sports and in generating math and science programs that are attractive. On November 10, 2015 we will have an event on Early Childhood Education that will particularly address the question of girls and math, girls and science and girl equality in early childhood education. In my opinion, this is where it all starts. We invite you to join us for that.

We also invite partners to join us with moving the broader gender agenda forward.  The Bank is committed to, for example, continue supporting the expansion of integrated services for women, and addressing violence against women in LAC, particularly in the Northern Triangle. Additionally, the IDB will keep working to provide access to credit to at least 185,000 women by 2019, increasing the share of public procurement contracts awarded to women-led businesses, and promoting women’s leadership in the public and private sectors.

In all of this, let’s not forget our girls. We will discuss the importance of introducing girls to early math and science at the upcoming BID-Alas Event, while we continue working with diverse partners through our Gender & Diversity Fund to improve the lives of women and girls throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region. At the IDB, girls are a priority. Join us!


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