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Experts underscore gender dimension for economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean

International experts and policymakers discussed at the Inter-American Development Bank policies and investments necessary to promote gender equality and foster human development and economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

IDB Executive Vice President Daniel Zelikow, IDB External Advisory Council on Gender Equality Chairperson Ruth Cardoso and IDB Sustainable Development Department Deputy Manager Marco Ferroni, opened the event held in Washington, DC this week.

Zelikow reviewed IDB projects addressing the challenges of gender equality in the region and underscored the commitment of the institution to do better and more. “The realigned Bank will actively mainstream gender issues and will continue to improve our contributions to gender equality knowing that by so doing we are consistent with our goal of promoting growth and fighting poverty” he said at the opening.  “Gender policies are required not only to benefit women, but to develop our societies,” stated Ruth Cardoso. 

Participants in the seminar included representatives and academics from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Norway and the United States, and international experts from the World Economic Forum, the Pan American Health Organization, UNIFEM, the World Bank and IDB.

Distinguished panelists from Latin America and the Caribbean and international organizations addressed the gender gap in education and economic opportunities and also reproductive health as a key aspect of exclusion.

In a panel led by IDB Education Unit Chief Juan Carlos Navarro, major accomplishments in women’s education were underscored and discussions focused on the remaining challenges and the role of the education system in modifying or reproducing traditional gender and race and ethnicity roles.

“While there is wide agreement that increased participation of women in the labor force and higher women’s earnings are critical to reducing poverty and boosting growth,” said Marco Ferroni, “women’s economic participation is hampered by constraints at the level of the household and family structure and other factors which have to be addressed to expand their economic opportunities.”

“A key factor that limits many women’s opportunities is their lack of access to information and quality care in reproductive health,” said the Chief of the IDB Gender and Equality Unit, Gabriela Vega, who moderated a panel that analyzed worldwide challenges and innovative programs in this field. “Latin America has achieved significant progress in reducing total fertility, but important challenges remain,” added Vega.

Otaviano Canuto, IDB Vice President for Countries, closed the event ratifying the Bank’s commitment to support its member nations in their efforts to foster gender equality in Latin America and the Caribbean.

IDB Gender and Equality

Since the establishment of a Women in Development Policy in 1987, the IDB has focused numerous programs and initiatives to promote issues related to women participation and leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean. Gender equality has also been a key concern in all the Bank’s portfolio.

IDB experts have worked for more than a decade with governments and civil society in identifying opportunities for women in all the areas of action of the Bank, particularly in the social sectors, governance and democracy, support to income generation and productivity and rural and urban development and housing.

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