Part 1: Tackling gender inequality in Latin America

  • Hermione Greenhalgh

The first event in the Opportunities series considered the challenges and approaches to tackling gender inequality in Latin America.

(L-R) Cristina Cortes, Jess Phillips MP, Rosy Cave, Maxine Molyneux and Lucila Granada

Canning House invited an expert panel to address this important issue: Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley; Rosy Cave, Head of the Gender Equality Unit at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Maxine Molyneux, Professor of Sociology at UCL; and Lucila Granada, Director of LAWRS (Latin American Women’s Rights Service). The event was chaired by Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House.

Maxine Molyneux introduced the subject, and spoke about some of the gains women have made in Latin America, including their increased involvement in the labour market and politics, and the widespread adoption across the Region of international treaties and gender equality frameworks that specifically protect women and girls. However, her discussion also highlighted that changes in political tides have caused some backsliding in terms of women’s rights in Latin America. Gender-based violence is still pervasive and reflects a persistent cultural problem. To tackle these issues, Maxine stressed the importance of increasing funding and transparent budgeting to women’s organisations.

Gender-based violence is also an issue that affects Latin American migrant women living in the UK, as Lucila Granada’s presentation underlined. Migrant women’s gender, race and migrant status mean they are subject to compound discrimination. LAWRS works to empower these women by offering them information and advice about their rights, and ensuring they maintain a central role in the organisation's research and campaigns.

Jess Phillips’ discussion emphasised the importance of having women in decision-making roles: if women are not represented in politics, there is little hope that legislation will reflect men and women’s different, gendered experiences of daily life. While acknowledging that there are still subtle institutional and cultural barriers that hinder women’s full participation in political life, Jess identified quotas as an effective way of overcoming these obstacles.

Canning House Opportunities and Gender Event

(L-R) Cristina Cortes, Jess Phillips MP and Rosy Cave

Rosy Cave spoke about the work the Foreign Office is doing to ensure a gender focus is integrated in domestic and international policy. She spoke in particular about the push to close the gender pay gap in the UK, and advance the Women, Peace and Security Resolution across the globe. Rosy emphasised the importance of mainstreaming gender and feminist perspectives in challenging the norms that limit women’s progress.

A very interesting Q&A session followed, with the audience asking questions about access to childcare, institutionalised discrimination, educating young people about gender inequality and the link between domestic violence and sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Thank you to all those who attended. Join us on 26th March for the next event: Opportunities and Race.

Canning House Opportunities and Gender Event

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