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Gender Equality and Inclusion of Diverse Populations

Development challenge 

In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), women, girls and individuals from diverse groups (Afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals) face persistent socioeconomic gaps, which increase for intersectional identities (belonging to more than one of these groups). 


In the education field: 

Young, indigenous women, students with disabilities, and Afro-descendant students have a lower secondary completion rate than their peers. 

  • In Guatemala, only 18% of indigenous women complete secondary education, compared to 47% of non-indigenous women and 28% of indigenous men. 
  • In Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay, only 61% of Afro-descendant students complete secondary education, compared to 73.5% of their non-Afro-descendant and non-indigenous peers. 
  • Peru has a notable gap: only 36% of students with disabilities complete secondary education, whereas 84% of students without disabilities do so. 

Gender stereotypes and discrimination (ethno-racial and towards LGBTQ+ students) contribute to explaining their lower attendance and higher dropout rates. 

  • In seven countries, 80% of LGBTQ+ students reported hearing homophobic comments, and over 40% said they heard transphobic comments from other students. 
  • In LAC, 30% of indigenous and Afro-descendant people report experiencing discrimination in some context. 


In the labor environment: 

The indigenous and Afro-descendant labor force is concentrated in informal, low-skilled and lower-wage sectors. 

  • Nearly 75% of the Afro-descendant population works in low-skilled occupations. In Mexico, this rate is 50% for indigenous workers and 37% for Afro-descendants, compared to 33% for the rest of the population. 

People with disabilities face high unemployment and informality rates. 

  • In LAC, the employment rate is up to 30 percentage points lower for people with disabilities than for people without disabilities. In Peru, for example, the employment rate for this group was 52% in 2021, which is 20 percentage points lower than for people without disabilities. 
  • Women have lower labor-market participation rates than men. In addition, they receive lower pay for the same work. Considering educational levels, women earn 23% less than men. Since 2000, this gap has increased by 4 percentage points. 
  •  Female presence in the highest-paid sectors (business, law, health, technology, computer science and engineering) is 35%. 

Gender gaps in the labor market appear after the birth of the first child, in part as a result of unequal distribution of the care burden between men and women. 

  • Women spend more than twice as many hours as men on unpaid caregiving tasks (38 vs. 16 hours per week). 

Women-led businesses are affected by gaps in access to financing, markets and skills. 

  • In LAC, sales of women-led businesses represent 23% of the total, compared to those led by men, despite having similar or higher levels of productivity. 
  • The probability of a woman obtaining credit for her business is 18%, compared to 23% for men. 


Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV): 

SGBV refers to violence directed at women and other individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

  • In LAC, one in three women between the ages 15 and 49 has experienced sexual or physical violence at some point. 
  • The prevalence of SGBV is higher among women with disabilities, Afro-descendants, migrants and women who identify as lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LBT).  
  • In Uruguay, 92.5% of women identifying as LBT suffered SGBV, and the same occurred with 86% of Afro-descendant women and 81% of migrant women. 
  • The femicide rate in LAC is one of the highest in the world.  
  • In 2021, 4,473 women were victims of femicide. 


Examples of solutions 

In the educational field: 

1.     Intercultural, bilingual education leads to learning improvements. 

  • In Panama, the JADENKÄ intercultural, bilingual education program generated improvements equivalent to more than half a school year of mathematics learning. 

2.     Working with teachers to eradicate racial, gender and LGBTQ+ biases in the school environment reduces the dropout probability. 

  • A study conducted in the United States indicates that African American males who had African American teachers in school reduced their high school dropout probability by 39% compared to peers who had other teachers. 


In the work environment: 

1.     Increased coverage of good-quality care services, including childcare and elderly care, can increase female labor-force participation. 

  • In Mexico, an expansion of coverage of care services for working mothers with children aged zero to three increased their labor-force participation from 35% to 40%. 

2.     Promotional campaigns encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM careers can increase enrollment in related courses. 

  • In Costa Rica, an IDB-supported campaign targeting high school girls aimed at combating STEM stereotypes through text messages increased women's enrollment in these courses by 43%. 

3.     Anonymous processes for job and credit applications, or training reduce discrimination. 

  • A 2020 study analyzing applications for the use of the Hubble Space Telescope found that, with an anonymous process, women's acceptance rose from 19% to 30%. 

4.     Labor quotas for women and individuals from diverse groups can increase their labor force participation. 

  • According to an IDB study in Chile, companies subject to disability quotas employ up to 20% more people with disabilities than other companies. 



a)     Strengthening victim-support services through inter-institutional coordination and more efficient services can reduce SGBV rates in couples.  

  • The IDB evaluated a telephone service in Medellín that handles emergencies such as SGBV and found that when action is taken within 12 hours after the call, partner-inflicted SGBV is reduced by 19%. 

b)     Training personnel to provide non-revictimizing and differentiated care for diverse groups is key to ensuring access to these services.  

  • Educating boys and men on non-restrictive masculinity models and respectful relationships can decrease violent behaviors. Implemented in Peru by the IDB, the Hablemos entre Patas program provides tools for reducing partner conflicts and promotes positive masculinities via WhatsApp. Sixty-seven percent of participants reported that the program helped them distribute household work more equitably and improve communication with their partners. 

With programs dedicated to strengthening GBV victim support, the IDB could benefit over 40,000 women, youth, girls and boys in Uruguay by 2025. The ProMujeres initiative projects a 26% increase in women served for the first time in the national response system. It is expected that 75% of those served will be satisfied with the service, representing an increase of more than 20% from current levels. Since its approval, the program has increased victim support hours by 22% annually and expanded telephone assistance, now available 24/7, 365 days a year. 


What is the IDB doing to have a greater impact? 

Project examples 

1.     In Panama, the JADENKÄ Intercultural, Bilingual Mathematics project developed An education model for indigenous students to learn mathematics in their native language.  

  • Prior to its implementation, indigenous preschool children had math skills 25% below those of their non-indigenous peers and a 40% reading gap.  
  • JADENKÄ showed improvements equivalent to more than half a school year of math learning.  
  • This was the world's first randomized experiment in preschool bilingual, intercultural mathematics education.  
  • Currently, this initiative is being adapted to the Peruvian context, in the Quechua language. 

2.     In Jamaica, the Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems Program loan has fostered startups and SMEs, with a gender focus.  

  • The percentage of women-led businesses applying for funds in innovation areas increased from 14% to 50% by adapting selection criteria and promoting female participation.  
  • Co-financing requirements for women-led companies were reduced by 10 points to facilitate access to financial solutions. 

3.     In Honduras, the Programa de Convivencia Ciudadana y Mejoramiento de Barrios (“Civic Coexistence and Neighborhood Improvement Program”) loan aims to improve the quality of life in vulnerable neighborhoods and reduce SGBV.  

  • The initiative provides care to SGBV victims, as well as children, the elderly, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ individuals.  
  • So far, it has expanded access to services for SGBV victims from 118 per month in 2022 to 167 in 2023. 
  • This project incorporated lessons learned from program HO-L1063, which reduced partner-perpetrated GBV against women aged 20 to 49 by 59.4%




Planes,Maria Soledad

Planes,Maria Soledad
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