Ecuadorian Women Bridge the Gender Gap
A 33% increase in participation of women in micro and small businesses has occurred nationally in the span of a year.
Increased Participation of Women in Business in Ecuador
Normally, the bell is rung daily to signify the ending of the fiscal day for the Bolsa de Valores Guayaquil. However on April 18th, it was rung to signify a special accomplishment and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initially made in September 2021.
This commitment to DEI values is in partnership with Club 30 Ecuador, an organization whose main goal is to achieve 30% participation of women in board of directors in Ecuador’s top 100 largest companies by 2030.
From this, a celebration of these objectives occurred during the bell ringing, with women CEOs’ participation increasing in business and stock exchange related matters. The participation of women in micro and small businesses has increased by 33%, and for large corporations it has increased by 23%.
With this, it is only the beginning of such commitments to gender equity, as out of 303 large institutions, only 86 have women on their board of directors, representing only 26% participation in Ecuador’s real sector, otherwise known as the production sector of the economy.
A new project in conjunction with this partnership is being proposed as a conduction of a study. The purpose is to study behaviors and cultures of Ecuadorian businesses to understand the challenges and blockages women face in these sectors. A cross-institutional perspective on this issue is especially needed since gender equality is needed in all sectors, not just business.
In speaking about this study, the country manager of Club 30% and co-founder of OPEV Ana María Pasantes states that,
“We are making approaches with several institutions for the construction of this report, which will allow us to know the reality of Ecuador, its barriers and growth options.”
Honoring and Recognizing Accomplishments of Ecuadorian Women
Recently, women across Ecuador were honored with the Ecuador Emblema 2023 Award by the National Assembly. This type of award was presented for the first time in history to women who have made strides for empowerment and gender equity through civil, cultural and ecological efforts. Out of the 100 women who applied for this prestigious honor, only 12 were recipients of this award.
One woman in particular who was recognized for this award, Leonor del Consuelo, a foreign trade engineer, spoke of the need to change the world to fit the growing importance of women in society, explaining that,
“Stand Firm, because we must not make women fit into the world, but must make the world fit around women.“
In other parts of the country, specifically in Guayaquil, another ceremony took place to demonstrate the powerful women leading the country in business and marketing. This initiative in partnership with Adlatina, an Ecuadorian digest dedicated to promoting visibility of women in business, is known as the Leading Ecuador Women Distinction.
Eleven women were selected to represent the progression of women in the marketing and business related fields, who have curated advertisements and marketing strategies in multilateral organizations. Together, they have collaborated to honor these women and promote greater participation of women in large corporations.
Quito’s Chamber of Commerce Elects First Woman President
While the Chamber of Commerce in Quito has always been spearheaded by male presidents, a new era of leadership is coming into place, with the spirit of resilience and merit against obstacles.
For the first time in its 106 year history, the Quito Chamber of Commerce has elected Mónica Heller as the prime leader for the organization. Heller, a fearless and tactical businesswoman, was selected on April 9th, to lead the Chamber into the frontline of Ecuadorian governance and its economy.
Heller notes that this process was not simple or short by any means, explaining that with any career path, the blockages that purvey one as a woman are intense. With this however, she gives citizens advice according to Forbes Ecuador, stating that,
“If you are in the fight, if you are continually doing projects and exposing yourself and doing things, then obviously at some point you will fail. But you have to keep walking and that is really the merit of this, in keeping walking.”
In a message to the people of Quito, she expresses the following sentiments below,
“We are searching for prevention against risks of insecurity and conflicts. I want to say to the people of Quito, you are not alone and we are working for you, to unite the people and find peace in these times of uncertainty.
Mensaje de la nueva presidenta @mheller_ec sobre la preocupante situación de la ciudad. pic.twitter.com/0I7mxHUkHO
— Cámara de Comercio de Quito (@lacamaradequito) April 26, 2023
Closing the Technological Gap through Women in STEM
With the increasing reliance on technology for daily usage, it is important for all voices to be included in the field of STEM. For many throughout the globe however, women are not always included in this narrative. In a neighborhood of Guayaquil, known as Juan Montalvo, a team of women are facing the forefront in guarding the internet’s broadband access. This service is the first of its kind in the area, as poor infrastructure and high wireless costs have proved to be the main barriers against public usable wifi for all.
Desiree Nuñez is just one of the 13 women volunteers acting as network guardians, who are protectors of the router service to make sure no issues occur and that the internet continues to work for the thousands of residents who live in the neighborhood.
With the new service providing opportunities for women to grow their technological skills, it also provides free economy courses for women and children to grow and create small businesses. From this, it provides opportunities for them to become financially independent and well-versed in the business realm.
For women such as Nuñez, this service has provided her with numerous chances to expand her small business, expressing that it enables her with new skill sets.
“I didn’t know how to use e-mail or even how to open an account. Spreadsheets were unimaginable for me,” said Desiree. “I can now manage my accounts, keep my financial records and write to neighbors who live further away to offer my arepas and empanadas. I can earn a living directly from home and reach people I couldn’t before.”
To quantify how this digital gap affects women and girls across the globe, they are 8% less likely to have access to a phone in comparison to men, and if they do have a phone, they are 20% more likely to have less access to the internet.
Caminando: A Project to Promote the rights of vulnerable refugee populations
Since 2019, Ecuador’s response efforts to the human migration crisis have been further revitalized to provide humanitarian assistance to populations most at risk from violence and gender inequality. For refugees and migrants alike, they are more susceptible to forms of gender based violence, discrimination, and exploitation.
The project Caminado, in collaboration with ONU Mujeres, the Coordinadora de Medios Comunitarios Populares y Educativos en Ecuador (CORAPE), and the Migrant and Refugee Population Fund of the U.S. State Department works to improve sectoral response for women and refugee populations, through shelter and protective action against gender-based violence.
This is a cross-sectoral action that has additional partners from persons in academia, private enterprises, and public sector officials.
A testimony from a partner in the organization, Estefanía Corella attests to the principles of the project, stating that as an international lawyer, it has made a stronger defender of the rights of all.
“The Caminando project has made me an ally and defender of the right to universal mobility, which goes hand in hand with the exercise of human rights.”
Indigenous Women on the Front Line
One of the most important groups in the fight for human rights in Ecuador, are the indigenous voices who make up around 25-30% of the country’s total population. For many, their main focus is protecting the environment in the ongoing battle against climate change. There are many ongoing initiatives to protect the country’s rich wildlife, including the portion of the Amazon forest located in Western Ecuador.
There is an urgent need to protect and preserve the Amazon for a multitude of reasons that need no explanation, for indigenous groups however, this is their home. The challenge remains in fighting the health impacts of climate change. For instance, the A’i Cofán people of Ecuador’s northern Amazon have borne the brunt of decades of oil industry contamination, deforestation.
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Despite these circumstances, the indigenous women from differing groups have come together to protect their land, creating opportunities for women across the Amazon to work through grassroot campaigns, international legislation and other forms of climate justice framework.
“We are writing this because we see that world leaders, businesses, and NGOs are only making slow, incremental progress on climate despite the urgent existential threat we face. Instead of getting frustrated, we’re doubling down on sharing our formula with other Indigenous guardians on the ground,” Nemonte Nenquimo, co-founder of Amazon Frontlines and the Ceibo Alliance. Nenquimo is a Waorani leader who has won the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Historical and Modern History of Women’s Rights in Ecuador
The pursuit of gender equality in Ecuador is one firmly integrated in its historical roots. Here below, is a brief timeline of momentous occasions throughout the country’s history :
Gabby Boyd | Latin American Correspondent
My name is Gabby Boyd, and I am a first year master’s candidate at Georgetown University studying Latin American Studies with a concentration in Political Economy and Development. My interest in this region of the world stems from a love of culture and politics, and a innate curiosity to learn more about Latin America through my educational and work experiences. During my time at Latina Republic, I am working as a Latin American Correspondent, with a focus on the Andean Cone countries and Caribbean Islands. I am interested in women’s rights, sustainability and the environment, and promoting the rights of children through advocacy. It is incredibly important that these topics are discussed in the realm of Latin America, as the voices of both women and children are crucial to understanding and improving the region on all levels.