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Financial inclusion Updated: 18 Dec 2017

The BBVAMF highlights the role of women entrepreneurs in Latin America to the UN

The BBVA Microfinance Foundation (BBVAMF) has taken part in the United Nations’ High-Level Panel on the economic empowerment of women in Latin America. This event served as an important first step on the road for working together to create a planet without discrimination.

Women worldwide are paid on average 24% less than men –19% less in Latin America and the Caribbean– and spend 2.5 times more time than men on unpaid work and household chores. These are just a few of the figures that came to light during the High-Level Panel on the economic situation of women in Latin America, held in Costa Rica from 13 to 15 July. It was attended by several heads of government, and leading members of the private sector and civil society of various nationalities, including the BBVAMF.

The aim of this international event was to find solutions to a situation that continues to produce alarming data. Today, almost half the women of working age in the world have no access to employment. The reasons include particularly their lack of education and the fact that they are burdened with the lion’s share of household chores, resulting in the entrenchment of poverty and inequality at all levels.

Fotografía de Yolanda Guerrero - Rep Dom - Banco Adopem de la Fundación Microfinanzas BBVA

Women entrepreneurs in Latin America

According to the report entitled UN Women. Progress of the world’s women 2015-2016, more women than men now live below the poverty threshold, and this proportion has increased since 1997. This situation is even more serious for mothers in single-parent households (separated, widowed, or single) with dependents, an increasing proportion of women in Latin America. In this scenario, the search for solutions is urgent. “This is an unprecedented agenda, based on the universal right to development, human rights and gender equality, and on the principle that no one should be left behind on the path towards more prosperous, resilient, fairer, more inclusive and sustainable societies”, said Luiza Carvalho, in an article for the UN Women’s website.

The panel highlighted the importance of the work of institutions such as the BBVAMF in bringing about a more egalitarian and sustainable world. The typical profile of the vulnerable women entrepreneurs with which it works (who comprise 61% of its total customers), is a poor, uneducated rural woman with dependent children, engaged in activities with low productivity. However, the BBVAMF’s figures reveal results that differ substantially from the stereotypes. “Our women entrepreneurs save 35% more, even though they earn 25% less than men“, explained Laura Fernández Lord, head of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the BBVAMF.

The UN’s High-Level Panel is a first step towards attaining the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary General, shared the key to achieving these goals: “The answer to creating faster and more sustainable economic growth is the economic inclusion of women”.