Panama City, Panama, August 01 – Despite the achievements and progress that has been made in reducing poverty and extreme poverty in recent years, data indicates that these accomplishments have been deeply unequal, as women remain as one of the most affected groups. Men still own 50% more of the world's wealth than women.
In this context, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Hub for Latin America and the Caribbean created a proposal for the revision of the dimensions and indicators of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of the countries of the region in order to incorporate a gender perspective. The proposal for validation was presented by UNDP together with the French Embassy in Panama to more than 40 specialists from over 10 countries in the region and the Oxford Poverty & Human Development (OPHI) during the Meeting on the Multidimensional Poverty Index and Gender on 1-2nd of august at the Residence of France in Panama City, Panama. The inauguration counted with opening remarks from the Minister of Social Development of Panama.
Women in Latin America and the Caribbean face greater poverty regarding both time and income and have larger limitations when trying to access and control of productive assets. In the region, only 49% of women participate in the labor market versus 76% of men and 54% of women work in the informal sector, with little or no social protection and lower income. Additionally, women in the region also devote an average of three times more time to unpaid care and household work than men, which limits their opportunities. This proposal seeks to analyze and measure the multidimensional poverty of women, with hopes that governments can use it to establish public policies focusing on those variables and barriers identified.
“In Latin America and the Caribbean, women have a low participation and representation in decision-making spaces that influence their lives. Despite legal frameworks that favor parity and women's participation in politics, women in Latin American parliaments only reach a representation of 28.8% and in the Caribbean, they barely reach 16.9%. Having an MPI with a gender component allows us to visualize the specific hardships women face as it provides us with relevant information that can help reverse gender inequalities through the design and implementation of public policies that directly address the causes and structural barriers that perpetuate women’s impoverishment so we can make substantial progress in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda” said Linda Maguire, Resident Representative of UNDP Panama.
In order for the 2030 Agenda to be fully manifested, it is necessary to promote an increment in the amount of women with their own income and implement actions that allow an adequate balance of work, family and personal life that promote equitable care responsibilities between women and men, eradicating poverty in its many forms and favoring real equality for all people. Gender equality is not conceived in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as singular target, but as a cross-cutting element throughout the agenda.
“In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, called for gender equality to become a major cause worldwide, highlighting that women and girls are the first ones affected by poverty, conflict, the consequences of climate change as well as the first victims of gender and sexual violence. In his speech, the president affirmed that our responsibility in the 21st century is to put an end to this gender violence and finally build for them a world they deserve!” added Brice Roquefeuil, French Ambassador to Panama as he highlighted his country’s commitment to gender equality.
During the meeting, a space for discussion was provided for both decision makers and poverty and gender specialists for them to validate the incorporation of indicators in the multidimensional poverty index with a gender focus in order to develop adjusted measures in countries of the region. At that meeting, the next steps to advance the inclusion of the gender perspective in the Multidimensional Poverty Indexes at the regional level were established with the countries and OPHI.
“19.1% of the Panamanians are in multidimensional poverty and around 453,000 Panamanian children are currently a situation of multidimensional poverty... these are the challenges that lie ahead; part of the importance of these spaces is that they allow us to contribute with adequate statistical analysis, incorporating this gender approach, but above all incorporating the protection and strengthening of women's human rights” highlighted Markova Concepción, Minister of Social Development of Panama.
As long as women and girls continue to be the demographic with higher poverty rates, greater economic vulnerabilities and higher unpaid workloads, the guiding principle of "leaving no one behind" inevitably points to the need to address inequalities gender and empowering women and girls as central elements in the strategy to achieve sustainable development.
A gender approach in the multidimensional analysis of poverty seeks to create a complete view of poverty in the region. By considering the adverse effects and impacts that leave one or the other at a disadvantage, a gender based IPM promotes equal opportunities for women and men without ignoring the gender discrimination that exists in different areas in which people in conditions of poverty develop.