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Latin American women driving region’s prosperity

Joao Pedro Azevedo's picture

Also available in Portuguese, Spanish

Women are increasingly becoming Latin America's critical development partners. Moms, students, working professionals, women from all walks of life, are a driving force behind a gender revolution that has made huge contributions to our region's prosperity.

Over the last decade, Latin American countries have made big strides in reducing poverty and bringing down inequality. And much of that progress, we now know, can be credited to women. So much so that, had there not been so many women in the workforce, extreme poverty in the region in 2010 would have been 30 percent higher. Something similar can be said about the region's recent inroads against persistent inequality, as highlighted in Poverty and Labor Brief: The Effect of Women's Economic Power in Latin America and the Caribbean.

From homemakers to heroines: Guatemalan women promote local development

Robert Valls's picture

También disponible en español,

 How much is a jar of jam worth? A couple of pesos, at most. But for a group of women from a remote Guatemalan village, it’s worth its weight in gold. It has helped them develop as individuals and has made a significant contribution to their income and that of their community.

With a sweet voice that cracks with emotion, Blanca Estela, a single mother of four, tells us that making jam marked a turning point in her life. She is one of 30 women from Nueva Esperanza, a company that makes jams and sauces in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. The company has helped the women become independent in a society that continues to be patriarchal. It has also promoted local economic growth.

When I visited the women to make this video, they told me that the Rural Economic Development Program supported by the World Bank enabled them to open new markets and increase their earnings. “This is the dream of a lifetime. We’ve been able to develop as individuals and as businesswomen,” says Esperanza. It has turned these rural homemakers into businesswomen. They now serve as an example for the rest of the women and men in the village.


Vingt ans plus tard, on ne parle toujours pas assez de sexe

Keith Hansen's picture

Also available in English, Spanish, Portuguese 


Au cours des vingt dernières années, cette région a considérablement accru le niveau des échanges sur l’épidémie et le degré de sensibilisation. Les pays ont élaboré des stratégies nationales de lutte contre le VIH/sida (a), intégré les programmes de lutte contre l’épidémie à leurs systèmes de santé et sont parvenus à informer et sensibiliser la quasi-totalité du grand public sur les facteurs de risque du VIH.


Cependant, on continue à ne pas assez parler de sexe.


Aider les jeunes haïtiennes à décrocher leur premier emploi et sortir de la vulnérabilité

Olivier Puech's picture

Also available in English and Spanish

Edelene et d'autres jeunes femmes partagent leurs espoirs d'une vie meilleure

« Est-ce qu’être maçon, conduire des engins lourds ou être électricien sont des métiers qui doivent obligatoirement fait par des hommes ? Non, moi aussi je veux pouvoir exercer ces métiers »

La jeune femme qui s’exprime ainsi, c’est Edelène. Elle a 17 ans, elle a quitté l’école en 3eme parce que sa famille ne pouvait plus payer les frais de scolarité. Avec l’aide de sa mère, elle élève son jeune fils d’un an. Nous l’avons rencontrée lors de notre visite à l’association APROSIFA de Carrefour-Feuille dans la banlieue de Port-au-Prince.


Helping young Haitian women land their first job and get out of vulnerability

Olivier Puech's picture

Disponible également en français et espagnol

Edelene and other young women sharing their hopes for their country

“Should only men be allowed to be builders, heavy machinery drivers, or electricians? No—I want to be able to do these jobs too.” The young woman expressing this opinion is Edelène. She is 17 years old and dropped out of school in the third grade because her family could no longer afford to pay her school fees.

With her mother’s assistance, she is raising her one-year old son. We met her during our visit to the APROSIFA Carrefour-Feuille association in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince. Surrounded by roughly ten other young women from her neighborhood, Edelène shares her hopes for the future.

Gender-Based Violence: Is it the World Bank’s Business?

Maria Beatriz Orlando's picture

También disponible en Español

Distribution of solar light bulbs/flashlights at the KOFAVIV Women's Center, February 10,

Gender inequality comes in many shapes and (depressing) colors.  A recent trip to Haiti showed me and my colleagues, perhaps its ugliest and most damaging face: violence against women of all ages, including babies. But as ugly as it is, can we make it our business?

I think the answer is yes. Here is why.

Colombia: sewing machines help the displaced weave brighter futures

Ana Revenga's picture

También disponible en español

Displaced woman in Colombia

Imagine that one day you are forced to leave your home with only the clothes on your back. You have no house, land, supplies, work or friends. You cannot return. The only thing you have left is your will to survive and to protect your family. You arrive in a new city to start from scratch. Everything seems overwhelming. You realize you have lost in two ways: as a woman and now as a displaced person.

This is the experience of millions of displaced women in Colombia, such as the ones we met at the Foundation for Development and Progress (FUNDESPRO) in Bogota.The Foundation works with the government to aid victims, especially women, of the Colombian civil conflict, as part of a World Bank initiative supported through the Peace and Development Program.

Bachelet: "Latin America has greater awareness of gender equality"

Marcela Sanchez's picture

Being a woman in Latin America is no longer a synonym for scarce job and schooling opportunities. On the contrary, Latin American women have made remarkable progress over the recent decades in the labor -where 70 million additional women have got jobs— and in education, where they have outperform men, according to the World Bank’s study Work and Family: Latin America and the Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance.

To discuss the report I interviewed UNWomen’s and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. She told me that these days “gender equality” is a notion widely accepted in the region.  

Latin America: women still struggle for equality at work and at home

Ana María Muñoz Boudet's picture

Portrait of young woman, Colombia. Photo: Jamie Martin / World Bank
Igualdad (equality) is perhaps one of the most important words in our language and in our culture – it helps us build better societies and the well-being of future generations. However, in Latin America and many other parts of the world, it has different meanings for men and women. 

For the past two decades, “opportunities for all” has been the maxim guiding the region’s public policy. But when we speak about gender equality, the urgency of this principle is questioned by many policy makers. The World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development confirms that gender equality is not only central to development, but a core development objective in its own right.

Brazil: fighting poverty with music

James Martone's picture

Brazil's celebrated love for music is playing a key role in the future of many underprivileged kids, especially women. But it isn't samba, forro, funk or any Hollywood-inspired dance moving thousands of Brazilian kids towards success. It is, instead, classical music.

Thanks to a community project supported by the World Bank more than 200 community associations receive funding to finance lessons and instruments for aspiring young musicians –many of whom have found jobs in philharmonic orchestras as a result of this training. Cameraman Romel Simon and I visited the city of Sao Tome in North Eastern Brazil to document the progress of this initiative, as part of a series of videos for our gender campaign.