International Women’s Day Inequality persists in Latin America

The demands for equality from governments are accumulating pending accounts and this year, in addition, they face new threats of setback with the arrival to power of men, such as the far-right Argentine president Javier Milei, who have openly rejected anti-discrimination policies.

Gender violence remains one of the most pressing problems, accumulating deaths of women and without public policy having corrected the rates of impunity that are associated with attacks and femicides.

But it is not the only debt of the system to them, who still deal with less space in positions of power and greater job insecurity.

According to figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a women is murdered for gender reasons on the continent every two hours.

Latin America in Figures

Furthermore, in decision-making positions, women do not occupy even one in three positions in ministerial cabinets in Latin America. They account for 28.7% of these spaces in the regional average and only in two countries, Chile and Costa Rica, parity is reached or exceeded.

The reality of the workers is worse. They are the ones who mostly take on unpaid work, usually in the private sphere. In the best scenario, that of Brazilian women, they dedicate 22.1% of their work time to unpaid tasks. But in most Latin American countries, this unpaid dedication ranges between 30% and 42% of working time.

On the other hand, in the case of men, only 15% to 23% of their working time is spent on unpaid tasks. In no country does it exceed 25% of their time, according to ECLAC.

Hence, massive demonstrations are planned on March 8, with demands for pending accounts and the risk of setbacks.

Figures in Mexico

Mexico’s upcoming June elections could bring a woman to the presidency for the first time, in one of the most violent countries against them, which opened the debate on whether this will be accompanied by progress in gender policies.

Neither of the two candidates, the ruling party Claudia Sheinbaum and the opposition Xóchitl Gálvez, have included abortion among their campaign offers, but they do propose measures for equality and protection of women.

The numbers of femicides in recent years have exceeded 3,000 cases per year.

Activist María de la Luz Estrada, coordinator of the National Citizen Observatory of Femicide, said she hopes that whoever becomes president will confront the “conservatism of this country” and promote policies that “break stereotypes.”

Mariana Reyna, director of the Guerrero Association against Violence against Women, also sees it with optimism, but prefers to wait for concrete actions. “There are announcements that there will be a commitment, but that is no guarantee. We’ve seen a lot of pushback right now. I see a difficult route.”

Sheinbaum, former mayor of Mexico City, announced her willingness to give constitutional status to women’s equality, to ensure the right to a life free of violence and to eradicate the wage gap.

To reduce feminicides, he promised to activate a program similar to the one he applied in the capital’s mayor’s office to prevent and report family violence, promote specialized prosecutors’ offices, and force each death of a woman to be investigated as a feminicide.

For his part, Gálvez intends to attack the high incidence of femicides and banish what he has considered the “false idea” that violence against indigenous girls and women responds to cultural customs.

Regarding abortion, decriminalized in 2021 by the Supreme Court of Justice, he has affirmed that it is already a right and that he will not take “not even a step back”, but he has not made concrete offers to guarantee Mexican women a safe termination of pregnancy.

Although in Mexico it is not allowed for a woman to go to jail for having an abortion, only thirteen of the country’s 32 states have the interruption of pregnancy been legalized, which creates obstacles.

Figures in Colombia

It is one of the most flexible countries in Latin America regarding voluntary interruption of pregnancy, since two years ago when the Constitutional Court approved the decriminalization until the 24th week of gestation. An advance that defenders of women’s rights still celebrate, while calling for its effective implementation without delay.

In access to political spheres, the government of leftist Gustavo Petro has sought parity in the ministries and nominated three lawyers as candidates for attorney general.

However, femicides remain a major concern. At least 21 women were murdered in January, according to the Attorney General’s Office. One of the most recent cases was that of Laura Lopera, 20, found dead inside a suitcase in Medellín. The authorities identified as the alleged perpetrator a Canadian who would have been her partner and she fled Colombia.

Figures in Chile

The Gabriel Boric government, which has declared itself openly feminist, has the most equal cabinet in the history of the country and for the first time with a woman in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.

After seven years of processing, the comprehensive law against violence against women was approved, which strengthens the institutions to protect victims of violence, includes children as victims and not only as witnesses, expands the concept of violence to relationships courtship and incorporates gynecological-obstetric violence.

This law is valued by Gabriela Rosero, head of UN Women Chile, as a “great advance” that places the country at the level of others in the region and in the world to “strengthen the prevention system.”

In the path of outstanding debts, a more open abortion law than the one that exists, where therapeutic abortion has been allowed on three grounds since 2017, but which presents many obstacles in practice due to the conscientious objection of professionals and entire institutions.

Figures in Ecuador

The increase in criminal violence and the averted gaze of the government in power put a red mark on women’s fight for equality, which means that there is a setback in terms of rights, according to activists.

For the activist and professor at the Central University, Milena Almeida, the highest levels of violence against women are recorded, something that has been influenced by the context of insecurity and the recent declaration of the internal armed conflict in the country.

Last year there were 321 femicides, of them, 172 are related to criminal structures, he stated. And that, she said, is because the State does not have the political will or allocate funds to enforce women’s rights, to which is added a slow or ineffective judicial system to protect them.

This International Women’s Day also comes immersed in controversy over a case of group rape of two high school students from a renowned private school by three of their classmates. “It is a sign that there is no gender focus in families, in educational establishments, and there is no will to enforce women’s rights on the part of the State,” said Mayra Tirira, lawyer and spokesperson for the feminist organization Surkuna.

Figures in Bolivia

Despite advances on paper, such as the demand for parity in the Assembly and in presidential candidates or the law against harassment and political violence against women, equality is not guaranteed in Bolivia either. Bolivian female politicians do not have real decision-making power, according to activists.

“In Bolivia, women’s right to decide is still not fully fulfilled, because men still do not see us as equals and it is difficult for those in power to give them their place,” said Tatiana Mariaca, head of the gender unit. in the NGO Bolivia de Conexión, dedicated to mitigating inequalities.

“The problem with the laws is that we have very good ones on paper, but they are not respected,” he added.