Published originally in Spanish on AmericaEconomia.com on March 29, 2019.
Opinion by: Maria Cavalcanti, President & CEO of Pro Mujer.
Women across Latin America are increasingly claiming their place as the leaders-to-watch in politics, business and the media, and as entrepreneurs, entertainers, and activists. At the same time, deep political and social crises are also driving Latin America’s women to join movements, migrate and challenge patriarchal laws – decisions that can have a life altering impact on their families. Women are undoubtedly shaping our communities and driving change.
As President & CEO of Pro Mujer, a leading organization for women in Latin America, I have traveled across the globe to attend conferences, summits and events worldwide that tackle issues of poverty, gender equality and investment in the Latin America region. I can tell you that among almost all globally-focused events, Latin America and its women remain vastly underrepresented. This includes international development and economic forums, where many programs and initiatives presented or discussed have the potential to impact the quality of life of millions of women in the region. As I stand in these global events, I have been left to ask, “Where are the Latinas?” and to ponder a future where we are fully represented and positioned to lead. Pro Mujer is working to change that.
Latin America holds the highest rates of income inequality in the world and women face overwhelming gender-based violence, chronic health problems and discrimination. According to The Social Panorama of Latin America 2018 by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), 182 million people in Latin America live in poverty, a disproportionate number of whom are women ages 20 to 59. In fact, 132 women in the region live in poverty (earning less than $1.90 per day) for every 100 men in comparable circumstances.
I have witnessed first-hand in my career that with the right opportunities, even the most marginalized women can become effective leaders and entrepreneurs. Pro Mujer employs an integrated strategy that develops women’s financial independence, leadership and business skills, provides access to health services and promotes solidarity with other women.
Over the past thirty years, we have disbursed over $3.6 billion in small loans to support businesses and the women who run them. These are women like Gaby Lugano, who grew up in the Lake Titcaca region in Peru without running water or electricity. She joined Pro Mujer, where she received small loans, trainings and preventive healthcare. Today, Gaby is a proud owner of a successful bed and breakfast that hosts international tourists. She has transformed her future and her family’s.
The women Pro Mujer reaches are not defined by their circumstances. Given the right opportunities they become powerful catalysts in their communities for positive change. Their voices are valuable and must be included in global conversations about their lives, economies and futures.
As co-sponsors of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, the largest gathering worldwide on the wellbeing of women & girls, Pro Mujer is hosting the Latin America Pavilion, a space dedicated to amplifying Latin American women’s stories – their challenges, successes, and the organizations that support them. Pro Mujer’s platform is increasing the representation of Latin Americans at Women Deliver 2019, but we need your support, action and presence to ensure our region leads critical conversations and claims its global leadership.
- Register here to attend the conference June 3-6, 2019 in Vancouver, BC.
- Donate here to support Pro Mujer’s programs to help Latin America’s women reach their full potential.
- Find and follow Pro Mujer on all your social media platforms and share #LatinasDeliver.
- Visit ProMujer.org to learn more.
Take your place on the global stage with Pro Mujer. Join us at Women Deliver 2019. #LatinasDeliver