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Photo: UNDP Peru

Latin America and the Caribbean has made significant progress in gender equality over the past 20 years. Women account for nearly a quarter of parliamentary seats in the region (23 percent) and  have massively entered the labor market (53 percent). Countries have in the region have also generated a significant number of laws and policies to boost equality and curb violence against women. However, more needs to be done, including on gender identity and same sex marriage.

More institutions, decision-makers and technical staff recognize the importance of including gender equality perspective in policies and plans developed: economy, labor, finance, risk management and climate change.

However, the Human Development Report 2013 shows that the region is below the world average in the gender inequality index (0.419 compared to the global average of 0.463). Women - especially young women, of indigenous and African descent continue to face discrimination in access to health, employment, income and political participation, especially in local governments. These inequalities are uneven among countries in the region and within countries themselves.

The inclusion of women in the labour market (paid work), is an opportunity to rethink the model of care and the sharing of responsibilities at home—and society’s expectations. Women are generally expected to take care of the young and the elderly.

Women are at the core of informal labour in Latin America and the CaribbeanL three quarters of women in Peru, Paraguay, Honduras, Jamaica, Bolivia and El Salvador).


There is no human development without gender equality. Any initiative that involves people and can impact their lives, has to be evaluated from a gender perspective to seek to revert gender inequalities. We believe that all development initiatives are opportunities to end discrimination and make the world more equal.

What we do

We work to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into poverty and inequality reduction, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and environment and sustainable development.
The portal America Latina Genera (in Spanish) gathers women empowerment-related documents, best practices and facts on democratic governance, work and economy, human rights, equality, diversity and sustainable development.

1) Policies that transform
We support countries to increase the number of women in parliaments and national and subnational governments through electoral reforms interparty working initiatives, awareness and training of election officials and parties. We also support institutions (especially Legislative and Executive) to develop laws, policies, plans and projects that eradicate gender inequalities.

2) Decent work and social protection
We work especially with governments, but also with businesses to create decent working conditions for women, eliminate inequality in the workplace and increase social protection.

We support companies’ and institutions’ gender equality certification processes to help boost institutional commitments to equality (gender equality seal). 

3) The care and use of time: new perspectives on poverty
Women are spending more time on household chores and the care of the dependent, as surveys in the region show. That limits and determines their employment but also their participation in other economic, political and social spheres. We believe that shared responsibilities can improve women’s life, their partiicpation in the workforce and also have a direct impact in reducing poverty.

4) Public safety and violence against women
Latin America shows alarming rates in terms of insecurity and violence. Women and men live, exercise and perceive violence and insecurity differently. Taking this into account is essential to develop security policies and effective strategies.
UNDP supports the inclusion of gender in the diagnosis, analysis and proposals for security in the region.

We are also an active part of the UN Secretary-General's campaign UNiTE to end violence against women, also supporting the access to justice strategy, strengthening national plans of violence against women and awareness of this issue on decision makers, media and men, for example.

5) Disaster risk management and climate change adaptation

UNDP promotes poverty reduction and sustainable development through disaster risk management and climate change adaptation from a gender perspective. We work with our partners to mainstream gender equality in risk assessment and early recovery, development of policies and strategies and in developing the technical capacity among institutions.
6) Innovation, Knowledge Management and Communication for gender equality

Knowledge inspires the search for new innovative development solutions. Latin America Genera is UNDP’s  gender equality knowledge, a one-stop-shop for policymakers, civil society, academia and the general public to access methodological analysis, practical experiences and documents.


Antonio Banderas talks about Violence Against Women