Economic Empowerment of Women in the Changing World of Work: Proposal of Civil Society Organizations
The representatives of more than 50 NGOs and Regional Networks of women’s and feminist organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Panama considered the central theme of the next CSW61. Based on these discussions and the contributions received from more than 20 organizations and Regional networks we made the following proposals to be presented to the governmental authorities of our countries.
We want to start by clarifying that we understand by economic empowerment of women the access and control of economic assets that guarantee autonomy. Economic empowerment is more than access to minimal monetary transfers and involves access to and control over capital goods, land ownership, credit and monetary resources.
Economic empowerment is a process that is linked to participation in the labour market, regulation of access to economic assets, social protection mechanisms and full women autonomy. Developing full women’s autonomy to be able to control their own lives and organized themselves to face the changing world of work.
Women traditionally experienced restrictions on equal access to the world of work in relation to men. Although some of these gaps have been narrowing, they remain substantive. Moreover, the changing world of work, with the technological development that is transforming the forms of technical organization of the production of goods and services, imposes new challenges and changes in them enables different flexible mechanisms of exploitation of the labour force by part of capital. There were changes that made it more difficult for women to have equal access to the world of work and their continuous remunerated employment.
Faced with this, women in the region experience new barriers and constraints that hinder their “economic empowerment” and are challenges that can only be overcome if they are analyzed and addressed from the aspiration for substantive equality and from a human rights perspective. For some years, but still more recently, we have seen a concrete and practical threat in the achievements made in the promotion of women’s rights.
In the current context, there is on, one hand a severe crisis of the sustainability of life and well-being, and on the other the perverse alliance between various actors that prioritize the accumulation of capital and the flow of goods over human rights. Although we are faced with a complex global context in which authoritarian and conservative political visions are strengthened, the pre-eminence of market regulation, the deepening of fundamentalist positions, and the slowdown in economic growth that deepen inequality. Nevertheless, we see this as an opportunity for Latin America and the Caribbean. With all the internal elements, with the natural assets so longing by the extractive industry and with the financial flows that in fact keep the Global North in its tax havens, but also with the most rigorous commitments and the clearest paths of action to achieve equality that can lead the construction of a progressive alternative for the world. To do this, our region must take effective measures to prevent impunity from any form of dishonest or customer’s management of public goods, which will allow organized society to increase the legitimacy of States, their policies and their decision- makers. Women’s and feminist organizations in the region will follow this conduct of our governments.
We consider that it is fundamental to recognize that we are in a context in which a model of development has been assumed by majority of our governments, centered on patterns of consumption and production that make life unsustainable on our planet.
Extractive, production and consumption of energy place us before the great challenge of finding the best ways to ensure the reproduction of life and care of mother earth, within the framework of respect for human rights.
In the region, we are witnessing the retraction of the extractive model returns; the intensification of fiscal and external balance restrictions, the renewed impetus of the private sector in imposing the development agenda and privatizations including social infrastructure and social security institutions, the risk of deepening downward of fiscal and labour standards to attract investment flows and the lesser political space to implement redistributive economic policies and equality policies.
In general, the statistics in LA and C show great advances in the entry of women into the education system and there are significant increases in access to ICT. However, there remain restricted tools, their access and use depends on their socio-economic status.
Equity in access to education has made it possible for people to increase their use of ICTs, but there are still levels of exclusion determined by, generational gap, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic factors.
Technological challenges pose challenges in a globally networked and highly competitive world. In this regard, it is necessary to promote the right to quality and free education is a guarantor for the empowerment of women, both economic and in all walks of life of women.
In order to transform this trend, macroeconomic policies should be geared towards achieving productive diversification, generating quality employment and redistributing wealth and income. To this end, it is necessary to ensure the education of girls and young women, especially in science and technology. To universalize the management of new ICTs by the diversity of women, especially the most vulnerable, such as young women, Indigenous women, Afro-descendants, women with different capacities, migrants, those living with HIV.
Macroeconomic policies centered on extractive, including finance, produce a high concentration of wealth and deepen inequality, leaving large sectors of women and girls in poverty and destitution. In addition, extractive policies adversely affect the environment and threaten the sustainability of development. These activities are being promoted without requiring impact studies that include deterioration of health and conditions of water and land sources. Likewise, extractive activities encourage the displacement of populations in the territories and increase concentration and alienation in land ownership. It is linked to the “land market”. The ownership of the land is in the hands of few people and international capitals.
The review of development models should be accompanied by the redistribution of work and time, is necessary to ensure the presence of the diversity of women in the workforce. To this end, unpaid care systems aimed at social co-responsibility between families, society, the State, government agencies and companies must be adopted. The State must assume the construction of the necessary infrastructure for unpaid care services and its distribution, which, in turn, constitutes a stimulus to the investment in basic services.
In addition, the recognition achieved in the region to the unequal time use among men and women and the economic and social contribution of unpaid care work must be transform in a strategy that reconciles working and domestic life; increasing maternity and parental leave, the extension of child care services and care of sick people, the elderly and disabled, and the implementation of public policies for cultural transformation through mass media campaigns on equality and the time use.
It is necessary to identify education needs for women’s economic empowerment, as a benefit that goes beyond the skills development to achieve economic and labour efficiency, based in the integrated person. Education for work must include human rights as well as cultural and artistic knowledge to strengthen democracy.
We consider urgently identifying the environment of labour activities because it is conceived as a strategy to reconcile domestic and labour activities. It generates other difficulties in terms of sociability, economic exploitation and precariousness of decent work, both by the levels of remuneration, and the displacement of labor costs to the virtual workers The challenge as a region is the relationship between assets and liabilities in the provision of services. Also, in reality women under social protection measures have enormous challenges for labour insertion and permanence (the reproductive pattern of the most vulnerable women is greater than that of women in the middle strata). They are structural nodes behind policies.
Against this we propose a policy oriented to the social economy rather than to the market economy. We must challenge the arguments that consider that equality policies should be promoted only or mainly, to the extent that equality improves economic efficiency. The main reason for promoting equality policies is that they are necessary to recognize, promote and uphold the human rights of women.
We want to highlight our concern about the growing role that the private sector is having in setting the development agenda and strategies for moving it forward. Without ignoring the importance that the private sector has as a development agent, we believe that it is the State that must lead these processes and precisely build firm and clear regulations of private sector activities that ensure that their activities are carried out in the respect of human rights. In contrast, in the region there is a relationship of state co-optation by the interests of the private sector, with a revitalization of the risks of privatization in areas such as infrastructure and social security institutions. The private sector does not assume responsibility, with zero or almost nonexistent accountability, and without monitoring the impact of its activities on the environment. Also they didn’t assume their role in ensuring equal work and business opportunities as well as ensuring an environment that facilitate the emergence of women entrepreneurship specially ensuring access to credit. Private companies (national and multinational) in the region are characterized by a pronounced tendency to evasion and tax avoidance, which fuels the escape of large illicit financial flows. This is in addition to those arising from criminal activities, and in particular trafficking in persons for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation.
The State must establish mechanisms of regulation of the private sector that control all the modalities including Public Private Partnerships and guarantee the rendering of account, the model of open government and that establishes and applies the same standards as those applied to the state itself. Women’s organizations should be able to access this information and ensure that accountability processes and results are transparent and accessible.
The trade liberalization policies adopted in recent years adversely affect the balance of payments.
The Free Trade Agreements produce a decrease in tariffs, reduce fiscal resources, and fuel competition downward in labour standards. With consequences on production units, with low employment generation, and on the contrary, with an increase in precariousness and informal work that affects women more, lose labour rights and social protection measures. In order to limit this, support should be given to production units and staff retraining to ensure a diversification of decent production, maintenance and growth of jobs, especially for the women affected.
The freedom of association of the diversity of women workers including those in domestic work and sex work, should be guaranteed and strengthened their participation in the levels of trade union representation and at the discussion tables on working conditions. The union formation and the gender perspective of the workers and union leaders should be supported so that the aspects and needs of working women are included in the labour reforms and agreements.
It is imperative for the region to promote progressive tax reforms as a key element in reversing current patterns of inequality.
Current tax structures are regressive, and are based on excise taxes that have specific gender biases, and particularly affect poor women. Redistributive fiscal policies will be promoted, this will save people with higher incomes and allow redistribution by reducing current inequality. This requires the explicit commitment of the State to apply, control and sanction mechanisms, against tax evasion especially large corporations and establish a progressive fiscal policy. Women’s organizations will carry out monitoring actions through observatories with UN-Women support.
Social Protection policies must establish levels adapted to the multiple and diverse needs of women in their diversity, especially for those more vulnerable as small food producers, indigenous, afro descendants, migrants unable and diverse sexual identity.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the most unequal region in the world; where we struggle with poverty, cultural differences, language, exclusion, and inequity. Access to serviced land and security of tenure is a right undermined, and access has become a privilege for few in the region. (Vulnerable groups are afro-descendants, indigenous, and rural women in agriculture).
Social protection measures must include children under 5 years old due to the issue they are together with women the higher poverty and the lack of food and early stimulus leave them consequences.
From the ecological perspective, lands as basic resource is in danger. Deforestation, soil erosion, small islands and states in the Caribbean have natural disasters aggravated by climate change. Illness, infections and other health problems undermined development capacity especially for women more at risk of sexual and reproductive health.
Ensuring land tenure for indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant women in Latin America and the Caribbean is key to ensuring the production of their land and small surpluses to trade and secure income to subsist.
Talking about the economic empowerment of indigenous women is linked to the earth, the territory and natural resources. From the point of view of indigenous women, three key aspects must be considered.
- Economic empowerment must be a process
- Articulate the individual with the collective
- Consider the traditional knowledge of indigenous women as a source of power.
States should support the economic activities of indigenous women in consultation with indigenous peoples and take into account the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in order to strengthen their leadership and improve their development, including through equal access to productive resources and agricultural inputs, land, seeds, financial services, water, energy, technology, transportation and information.
In this perspective, education for access to and use of ICT must consider the right to knowledge and freedom of expression to strengthen democracies and cultures, with public policies based on respect for all states. It is necessary to establish strategies to identify, prevent, combat virtually violence practiced and in this sense, it is necessary to collect statistics, identify harmful practices, carry out campaigns and have mechanisms for reporting. In this context, it is necessary to identify gaps in the use and access to ICT among women, depending on their particular conditions and characteristics.
A new crystal ceiling?
Facilitate resources for indigenous and Afro-descendant women’s organizations to promote individual and collective empowerment processes covering various dimensions of life, such as education, capacity building and leadership, economics and production, sexual and reproductive health, communication and new technologies, organizational strengthening, formation of alliances and participation in decision making spaces, among others.
We demand that governments reorient their public policies to ensure the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially on earth, territory and natural resources, based on the universal principle of Consent Free Prior and Informed. Replace the development model that promotes extractive and the logic of capital and focus on human development, sustainability of life and empowerment of women as a crosscutting axis of national strategies for sustainable development in the medium and long term.
Ensure effective access for all women and girls to education and comprehensive care in sexual and reproductive health, specifically humanized and quality care, and optimal health services during pregnancy, childbirth and post delivery, as well as services that integrate interruption of pregnancy; ensure effective access to a wide range of modern contraceptive methods, based on scientific evidence of cultural relevance, including emergency oral contraception; and promote prevention and timely detection and ensure universal access to the comprehensive treatment of HIV / AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.
Governments must ratify and implement ILO recommendations and convenes as the c 189 which establish the rights of people working in household’s work, it was only ratified by 13 countries from the region; c156 about inclusion of gender perspective and women’s participation in trade unions; ratification and implementation of recommendation 200 about HIV and sexual and reproductive rights particularly for women and young women.