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Closing the gender gap and empowering women would promote economic growth of more than 20% in Central America, says Inter-American Development Bank President

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Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2022. 10:17 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Central American economy would grow by more than 20 percent if we closed the gender gap and empowered women, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Mauricio Claver Carone said on International Women’s Day during a conference call with Central American journalists.

Claver Carone said Micro/Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) provide 2/3 of the jobs in the region, but often they don’t have access to financing to invest and grow those businesses. The IDB president said the regional bank can help MSMEs with financing, but he said that the situation is more dire for the 1.5 million MSMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean owned or managed by women.

“Let’s think of all those businesses, particularly those businesses owned by women who find it even more difficult to access financing to invest,” said Claver Carone.

“More than 1.5 million businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean are either owned or managed by women, but 70 percent of the time, and this is the great tragedy of the region, 70 percent of the time, those women, even though their businesses have greater income, they cannot access financing particularly due to the gender bias. There is no other reason.

“If there is a business that generates more income, headed by a woman but has less access to financing, it’s obvious that it’s because of a bias because it’s not based on its own merits or the merits of the business. So, that is limiting the growth and job creation,” he noted.

Claver Carone said the gender gap in the job market has to be eliminated.

“Think of it this way, the region’s Gross Domestic Product would increase by more than 20 percent if we close it. It would add more than $1 billion to the economy.

“I don’t know any other economy or measure which can promote socio-economic growth by so much more than the empowerment of women,” the IDB president said.

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