Written by Mauricio Vivero, Executive Director of the Seattle International Foundation. Translated by Lara Sepulveda-Machado. Originally published in Spanish in Contrapoder.
For Guatemala, economic development depends on the partnerships between the private sector and women. An inclusive business environment that strengthens the economic inclusion of women creates progress to eradicate gender-based violence and simultaneously generates economic stimulus.
The rates are alarming. Guatemala is one of the most dangerous places in the world for women. In 2013 alone, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF) reported that more than 700 women were killed. This led the World Health Organization to condemn the country for gender-based violence, calling it an epidemic.
Guatemala has one of the worst rates of violence against women, after South Africa and India. Furthermore, it is characterized for having one of the highest inequality rates in the region. Guatemala is ranked 133 out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index, holding the penultimate place in Latin America, before Haiti.
What does violence against women and inequality mean for the largest economy in Central America?
According to the “Doing Business” ranking, Guatemala was amongst the ten countries last year that is making the most progress to improve its business climate. However, this does not mean the country has improved its development policies focused on women.
This topic was the focus of conversations at the recent World Economic Forum held in Panama. As Director of Latin America at WEF, Marisol Argueta de Barrillas stated, the governments of the region “face significant challenges to maintain these achievements and move toward sustainable growth and social cohesion.”
It is well documented that women are the most important resource for growing economies. Societies that focus on the creation of public policies that promote gender equality are more prosperous and less violent.
Governments in Latin America see public-private partnerships as means to increase access to transportation, housing and new sewage systems for marginalized communities. Why not create a public-private partnership framework that promote women’s social inclusion and strengthens their participation in the formal economy of Guatemala?