Girls and Women


Stronger Girls and Women. Stronger Communities and Economies.

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, overall poverty rates have decreased dramatically in recent years. However, while some populations flourish, other social groups remain in deep poverty, often outside formal employment and beyond the reach basic municipal services. LAC is today one of the regions with the greatest income inequality.  PADF believes that empowering women and girls is will lessen that inequality.

Today, vulnerable populations are disproportionately female and are largely found in indigenous, afro-descendant, conflict-displaced, rural, and marginalized urban communities. These girls and women face numerous challenges, including impediments to education, employment, and social inclusion. These problems stem from pervasive gender inequality, undercutting the self-worth of girls and women, and impeding the achievement of more widespread progress and prosperity.

PADF’s work throughout the region acknowledges these disparities and challenges. All our programming is gender aware and ensures women’s issues are identified and addressed. We work both in programs that integrate women’s concerns into activities as well as in programs that are focused primarily on women. 

Why We Invest in Girls and Women. 

PADF is well versed in addressing and catalyzing shifts in gender norms in a culturally sensitive manner. Providing girls and women with increased access to education, jobs, healthcare, and other services has a substantial ripple effect, improving not only individual quality of life, but also that of the surrounding community. We know that girls and women multiply the impact of investments by extending the benefits far beyond themselves. They are heads of families, leaders in their communities, business owners, and change-makers. Through our programs, PADF takes a nuanced approach to combatting inequality, assisting communities through targeted support to girls and women.

Social Inclusion

Ensuring equitable inclusion of women and girls in our projects’ activities.

PADF considers social inclusion to be much more than a marker of economic development: it is a measurement of equal access to services, and one that we build into programming on topics ranging from democratic governance to judicial system strengthening. An increased participation of women in the labor force has already reduced extreme poverty by 30%, proving that women are an integral part of any economy. Consequently, PADF views social inclusion not only as a vehicle for social change, but also one that promotes and creates sustainable economic prosperity in our countries of operation.

Leadership and Participation

Ensuring gender-aware participation of women and men, girls and boys in the implementation of our initiatives.

Women are rarely given a platform to voice their needs, and those of their community.  However, as heads of households and caregivers, they frequently understand and are able to assess these needs best.  In order to empower women, PADF works within communities to create education and awareness around the importance of giving voice to women.  

We consult with girls and women in a variety of ways to prioritize and enact all of our activities, and directly link concrete results to their valuable input. PADF takes pride in ensuring that voices are not only heard, but acted upon in all of our programming.

Economic Empowerment

Stimulating inclusive environments that encourage the growth and success of women and girls.

Companies, communities and countries are increasingly realizing what PADF already knows: that women are crucial to economic growth around the world. As more people understand this, a larger share of investments will be shifted toward investing in women. Based on our experiences, women who are able to support themselves economically see the world differently, which means they also do things in different ways. Understanding this, PADF develops programs and works with partners to support equal economic access—from artisans looking to sell their products in new international markets, and small business owners working to make the sale of renewable energy stoves a strong creator of jobs, to home-based micro-enterprises aiming to augment family incomes.

To empower women entrepreneurs, PADF provides technical assistance, business training, social counseling, and in-kind and cash assistance when necessary. In some instances, we also provide matching grants to help grow women’s businesses and spur job creation, and also connect women with local business associations and banking institutions to obtain seed capital.

Life Skills

Focusing on women- and girl-targeted initiatives that equip them to counter violence and external pressures and realize their own potential.

Girls and women play multiple, critical roles, and PADF supports them in doing so.  This support comes in many forms, among them: working with young mothers to learn about effective nutrition and sanitation; facilitating girls’ access to education; teaching job application and interviewing skills; building self-esteem to help shield women from gender-based violence. We aim for girl and women beneficiaries of PADF programming come away with a comprehensive tool kit of life skills that they can draw upon and pass on to their own daughters and friends.