Millennium Development Goals 2006: a look at Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean
This report is the outcome of a joint effort by the specialized agencies of the United Nations system in Latin America and the Caribbean that began in 2005 with the regional report entitled "The Millennium Development Goals: A Latin American and Caribbean Perspective (United Nations, 2005). All the agencies participated in its preparation, in particular UNIFEM, PAHO, UNFPA and ECLAC, the lastmentioned as coordinating agency. On the basis of the most recent data available at the time of preparation, the report focuses attention on the progress made in meeting Goal 3, (Promote gender equality and empower women), emphasizing its link with target 1 of Goal 1 (Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day). In view of the dual aspect of women's empowerment —as an end in itself and as a necessary pre-condition for the fulfilment of the other Goals— the report examines the changes in the official indicators, together with a set of complementary and additional indicators for the region that serve to illustrate more fully the genderbased inequalities and forms of discrimination prevailing in various spheres. The report identifies and discusses four critical challenges that must be faced in order to progress towards full compliance with Goal 3: achieving gender parity in access to decision-making, acknowledging unwaged work, eliminating violence against women and enabling women to exercise their reproductive rights.
The first chapter analyses the importance of the Millennium Development Goals in achieving gender equality, underlining the progress made and main challenges identified since 2005, the date of the most recent regional report on the Goals. In addition, the report maintains that these Goals should be seen as being integrated with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the outcomes of the world summit meetings of the 1990s, which culminated in the Millennium Assembly. In a discussion comparing advances and indicators in respect of target 1 of the first Goal and of Goal 3, special attention is given to the link between poverty and the empowerment of women, and the relationship of both with time use, the exercise of reproductive rights, the elimination of violence and the achievement of democratic parity. The report also reviews recent progress on the basis of data from official indicators and other indicators available for most countries with regard to Goals 1 and 3.
This report also reviews the current data and stresses the need to make better use of available sources, since the existing information appears to be underutilized. At the same time, the report stresses the importance of improving the collection, processing and analysis of data at the national level, and it recommends that gender statistics be integrated into statistical analyses. Since an available supply of data is an essential policy-making tool, the report especially advocates conducting time-use surveys and keeping an adequate record of the political participation of women, the exercise of reproductive rights and the impact of gender-based violence.
Chapter II of the report examines four aspects of the autonomy and empowerment of women that represent major challenges for the achievement of greater progress on gender equality. The first is women's unpaid work in the light of the data available since the early 1990s, with an emphasis on the importance of the work of health-related care work —nearly always done by women— and the public policies that affect how women integrate their public and private lives. The authors present a more precise picture of the main factors limiting women's economic autonomy and of the interrelationship between gender equality and poverty. In particular, this section stresses the importance of women's economic autonomy in fulfilling Goal 1.
The second aspect is the participation of women in national parliaments and in executive positions in national and local (municipal) governments. An analysis is presented of the empowerment of women in the public sphere. Thirdly, the report discusses the exercise of reproductive rights and access to reproductive health. Lastly, the authors demonstrate the importance of combating gender-based violence in order to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals in the region. The conclusions summarize the progress that has been made and offer a proposal for some general policy guidelines with a view to the achievement of the Goals.