International Women’s Day: PADF Programs Highlight Economic Empowerment

• Economically empowering women has a “ripple effect" on the community

• Examining the barriers to women’s economic empowerment

• Providing targeted support to women to create sustainable change

Washington, D.C., March 8, 2016 – The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has been working to support women and girls throughout Latin America for five decades and is delighted to stand with this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Pledge for Parity. PADF seeks to narrow the gender gap by empowering women and girls through leadership training, social inclusion, education, and access to capital.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), women account for 51 percent of the population in the region, but only access 38 percent of the total income earned. PADF is working to improve those numbers and create sustainable economic prosperity.

“On International Women’s Day, we acknowledge that women are a driving force in their communities,” says Caterina Valero, PADF Senior Programs Director. “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. Given the right tools and support, working women can have a great impact on the economy.”

In Chile, PADF works with The Boeing Company and local partners Acción Emprendedora to provide training and consulting services to approximately 100 women. With support, they are empowered to expand their businesses, creating local jobs. PADF has run similar programs to train and encourage young women to start or expand their own businesses in Belize, where it has provided business planning training, mentorship, skill development and networking opportunities for at-risk youth, many of them young women.

The Foundation also oversees a program to assist more than 38,800 families in Colombia, many of them indigenous and AfroColombian women and children displaced by civil conflict. This includes providing psychosocial assistance and helps victims generate income and apply for bank credits and housing subsidies. María Deyanira García lost everything when she was forced to leave her home in Northwestern Colombia. Now she has returned to her home in the municipality of Granada and is building a new life. “I plan to buy a cow to start a small business to produce milk and cheese,” she says. 

In Haiti, PADF is partnering with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund and build the capacity of 11 women-led businesses, leveraging more than $10 million in private capital.

In Guatemala and Mexico, PADF has increased awareness of important issues affecting women, such as human trafficking and sexual exploitation. In a recent partnership with Merck, the Foundation worked with local health agencies in Colombia, Argentina and Mexico to gather data on maternal mortality. This led to the development of an online platform that informs national and regional policies in an effort to improve health care for millions of women. These important initiatives seek to help women stay healthy, strong and safe.

Through its programs, PADF takes a nuanced approach to combating inequality, assisting communities through targeted support to girls and women. We aim for women to come away from our programs with a new set of life skills that they can draw upon and pass on to their own daughters and friends. PADF is proud to stand in support and celebration of them this International Women’s Day.