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Statement by the IDB President Marking International Women’s Day

More than 100 years ago, the German activist Clara Zetkin proposed a march advocating women’s right to vote and barring discrimination against them in the workplace. On that first International Women’s Day on March 8, 1911, more than one million people took to the streets in several European cities. 

Since then, some of the reasons for that protest march have disappeared. But sadly, others remain. We have still not achieved true equality between men and women. 

This year the United Nations chose as its themeEquality for Women is Progress for Allas a way to stress that this is the best way to move forward along the path of development. The economic data bear this out: improvements in equality not only help reduce poverty but also enhance the level of human capital in future generations, as women invest more in the education of their children. 

At the IDB, we are convinced that this is true. Since we approved our Polícy on Gender Equality in 2010 we have quadrupled the number of loans we make to projects whose goals include progress in gender equality. We have also doubled the dollar amount of our direct investment in projects that share this objective.

One example is Ciudad Mujer, which was implemented in El Salvador with our technical and financial support. Its centers offer shelter to victims of gender-based violence as well as high quality services designed to promote economic autonomy and sexual and reproductive health for women. Other countries in the region have shown interest in setting up similar programs of their own. 

In Honduras we are supporting the establishment of a network of specialized hospitals that will allow for reducing maternal and neonatal mortality and improving health care services through an innovative management model. 

As banks cover just a fraction of the investment and working capital needs of small- and medium-sized companies in Latin America and the Caribbean, we are launching the program known asweB(women entrepreneurship Banking) to facilitate access to credit for this segment of the population, which has such great potential to create wealth and jobs. 

To mark International Women’s Day today we are also introducing a blog called ¿Y si hablamos de igualdad?, (What if we talk about Equality?), a venue for our specialists and other experts in the region to share ideas and solutions with readers. 

With all of these activities, the Inter-American Development Bank hails the contribution that women have made toward a more inclusive type of development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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