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Supporting women’s employment in LATAM: a matter of urgency

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In Latin America, where women represent 40% of the economically active population, more than 13 million have lost their jobs since the outbreak of the pandemic. They join the nearly 12 million who were already jobless, according to a recent report by the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO). 


At MAPFRE, committed as we are to the Sustainable Development Goals (especially End Poverty – SDG 1), Gender Equality – SDG 5), and, as always, to quality work (SDG 8) around the world, we employ more than 11,000 women in the region.

This year, our Foundation has focused its action plan on several areas to fight the impact of Covid in Latin America. These include the promotion of labor market inclusion and entrepreneurship of this group.

At the end of 2020, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) already warned that the crisis caused by Covid could be the first to particularly affect women’s employability.

According to the latest data available in its Covid-19 Observatory, the loss of employment in the region is having a dramatic impact on women, albeit with variations from country to country. Although, the absolute fall in employment and the recovery have followed similar paths for both genders, in relative terms women have suffered a prolonged decline, as well as a slower recovery so far.

In the last two years, this has compounded the challenges already facing many women seeking to balance home and family care with work, in the best of all cases, thus jeopardizing their financial security and career development.

The gap is wide. Their participation as entrepreneurs does not exceed 15% in the region as a whole; in a country like Brazil, less than 5% of startups are founded by women.


A setback of more than a decade

The human resources consulting firm Mercer forecast in 2020 that the new post-pandemic reality was going to put to the test the achievements made by each country in the region in terms of gender equity in the workplace, an issue that has gained ground and become one of the most important. It is like starting all over again, because the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) stated in February of this year that there has been a setback of “more than a decade” in progress with respect to women’s participation in the labor market.


Hunger and food insecurity

The IDB’s Gender Equality Observatory has also warned that the combined effect of conflicts, extreme weather events and Covid has prevented the fulfillment of  the most basic needs of certain groups, such as those of women, and has exacerbated the problem of food security. “Without urgent action to curb rising poverty, hunger and inequality, especially in countries affected by conflict and other acute crises, millions of people will continue to suffer.”


Fundación MAPFRE is committed to helping 

Aware of the difficult situation faced by women in many countries today, and with the aim of contributing to the economic recovery of families subject to social and economic vulnerability, and of women in particular, Fundación MAPFRE created a specific employability, training and entrepreneurship project.

The programs, which have been implemented this year in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, include technical training, periodic monitoring of progress after training, and financial assistance to ensure basic household food provision during the period of operation. 

The aim is to provide tools to women so that they can generate income that will give them autonomy, help them learn about finances, entrepreneurship and leadership, which can sometimes be the key to their freedom and their ability to contribute and even provide for their families.

Actions are being carried out with social entities and some, as in Mexico, are done with the support of indigenous women family leaders or as in Brazil, in the favelas. In Colombia, in collaboration with a local NGO, it is leading a project to train 200 women heads of household in a region (Norte de Santander) of the country with a large migrant population in a situation of poverty, overcrowding, violence and exploitation.

In addition, in 2021, Fundación MAPFRE has launched throughout the region the Food Box Program, with the aim of providing high-quality nutritional supplements to malnourished children aged 10 and under. The supplements are delivered to recipients every two weeks for 6 months, as part of a food box that also contains an educational toy for children.

Another initiative worth highlighting in its efforts in LATAM is the FOAL Project, which supports people with disabilities: Fundación MAPFRE and Fundación ONCE in Latin America (FOAL) have signed a collaboration agreement to join forces in favor of the labor inclusion of visually impaired people in the region.

The agreement signed will promote the training and labor inclusion of these people through 86 scholarships, as well as the organization and implementation of 11 training courses of 300 hours each in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.


Related article:

Latin American women leaders call for action to prevent equality setbacks