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Latin American female leaders call for action to prevent equality setbacks 

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In Latin America, one in every three women has no income of their own and there is a concern that COVID-19 could represent a ten-year setback in this regard, according to data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). MAPFRE believe this reality requires visibility and is promoting the introduction of best practices to help prevent and combat the gender gap. This is how we are #PlayingOurPart.

CEAPI (Consejo Empresarial Alianza por Iberoamérica — the Business Council Alliance for Ibero-America), of which MAPFRE is a member, recently examined, together with Casa de América, how the role of women could be restored in the Latin American business, social and political world at a critical time when inequality is on the rise.

How can change be sped up in light of the current statistical invisibility? How can the—incorrect—perception that being a woman equals being vulnerable be eradicated? Is further education needed to break the patterns of discrimination? These were just some of the challenges brought up.

Antonio Pérez-Hernández, General Director of Casa de América initiated the discussion and he was joined by Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary-General (SEGIB), Gina Díez Barroso, President and CEO of Grupo Diarq and founder of Dalia Empower (Mexico), Gema Sacristán, Chief Investment Officer of IDB Invest (Spain), and Núria Vilanova Giralt, President of CEAPI who also acted as moderator. The discussion broached the main threats and solutions for combating this glass ceiling, such as equity indices and gender bonds.

Some of the proposed solutions included: working on “soft” skills, which are key for leadership; driving equality-boosting initiatives in major international forums; promoting diversity measurement; and improving education and culture through public-private partnership. Initiatives such as ClosinGap, the cluster of Spanish companies, including MAPFRE, working to combat the gap and Promociona are two projects that could help raise awareness of this problem, if they are rolled out in LATAM.

“No data means no measurements and no measurements means nothing gets fixed,” warned Gina Diez, President and CEO of Grupo Diarq. Meanwhile, Sacristán mentioned Jane Fraser’s appointment as the new CEO of Citigroup, an achievement represented by a journey spanning years. Because improving equality is a journey. According to data from Mercer, 81 percent of LATAM and Caribbean companies have recognized the importance of promoting equality policies as one of their priorities. The important thing is to understand what organizations can get out of greater equality — it is related to business opportunities. Increasing the integration of women into the workforce could add trillions to GDP.

Gender and Economic Agenda

An agenda shared with everyone was another priority that was raised, with greater prominence of successful initiatives in the region, such as Male champions for change (led by men in Australia), EngageMen, in which women challenge men to take part in equality initiatives, or the United Nations HeForShe, which works with men and boys to promote the role of women.

“A paradigm shift and the change coming from the world order must strengthen how women are viewed in the world,” stressed Sacristán, calling for greater public-private partnership.

Grynspan praised her colleagues, “who have supported so many other women.” Since 1987, when the Law of Real Equality for Women in Costa Rica was created under her supervision, a lot has been achieved, including the appointment of the country’s first female president.

Given the current pandemic and economic crisis, an appeal was made to protect the jobs of women and to establish measures to reduce the level of poverty among women (up by 22 percent), as well as their increased work overload. Antonio Huertas, Chairman and CEO of MAPFRE, recently attended a 50&50 event during which he warned about the problem, armed with some figures: Women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than those of men. Women represent 39 percent of the global workforce, but their jobs account for 54 percent of the total job positions being lost across the globe.

For many years, MAPFRE has been working toward equal opportunities for women and men. Our company establishes action plans that promote effective equality between men and women, guaranteeing their professional development on a basis of total equal opportunities, exactly as indicated in our Diversity and Equal Opportunities policy.

In addition, we adhere to the Women’s Empowerment Principles of UN Women, the Target Gender Equality initiative of the United Nations Global Compact, and are members of ClosinGap. Participation in these initiatives allows MAPFRE to strengthen its contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality), which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Recovery will not be possible unless the inequalities that impact women become a fundamental feature of the economic agenda. “For years, nothing has been done to stamp out the problem,” said Nuria VIlanova, who closed the debate with a reminder that “believing in it is necessary for solutions to be created.”