Ecuador is a country characterized by its inter-cultural makeup; it has a population of 14.5 million, 50.4% of them women and 49.6% men. Ecuadorean people self-identify as 65% mestizo, 13% of indigenous origin, 7.2% as afro-descendant, 7.4% as Montubios and 19% as white. Nine nationalities and three indigenous peoples are formally recognized in the country. Four years ago, it was categorized as a middle income country, ranking 89 in the Human Development Index.
Despite its growth rate in the past 5 years and a GDP of 84.04 billion US dollars, Ecuador still faces challenging economic, social and cultural gaps. According to the Human Development Index generated by UNDP, gender inequality is a key element; ranking 89 out of a group of 186 countries in 2012, with a coefficient of 0.442.
Ecuador has a solid legal framework that enforces the validity, application and claiming of women’s rights; supported by two main pillars:
The Ecuadorean Constitution, which specifically addresses gender equality under its chapters 1 and 2; and The international binding instruments ratified by the Ecuadorean State, such as:
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
- The Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) (1996);
- Security Council Resolution 1325 and its six additional resolutions on women, peace and security UNSC 1820 (2008); UNSC 1888 (2009); UNSC 1889 (2009); UNSC 1960 (2010); UNSC 2106 (2013) and UNSC 2122 (2013); and The Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals (2000).
LEADERSHIP AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
Promotion of women’s leadership and political participation is essential to strengthen democracy and governance, and therefore have more just and egalitarian societies.
Evidence shows how women’s presence in leadership roles has brought benefits to society, like legislation against domestic violence, women’s right to health, labor rights as well as maternity and paternity rights, among others.
The world has certainly made significant progress regarding women’s political representation and leadership; however, there are still challenges that must be addressed, such as:
- Gender stereotypes that limit women’s representation despite the agreed quotas, alternance and quota sequencing; political parties do not promote women candidates on individual ballots nor list them heading an office-bloc ballot.
- Limited knowledge on gender equality and women’s rights. Many women politicians, like their men peers, promote their party’s agenda with a vision that is neutral or blind to gender equality.
- Inequity, political violence and gender distribution of work make women participate less and in a sustained way in politics and leadership.
It becomes necessary to change the conditions under which women participate in the political life and decision making, simply because women make up half of the whole humanity.
- Ecuador is the country with second largest number of congresswomen in the region, reaching a total of 57 out of 137 Representatives.
- By January 2014, Ecuador ranked 39th in the world with respect to Ministries, with 8/36 of them lead by women.
- Despite the guidelines calling for parity in the party ballots, only 2 out of 23 municipalities are presided by women, while 21 women are deputy mayors.
- During the February 2014 elections, only 16 out of 147 candidates were elected to the 221 municipalities in the country.
- We foster the establishment of schools for the Leadership and Political Representation of Women.
- We provide technical assistance for the strengthening of leadership and representation skills to civil society organizations.
- We encourage the provisions that look after the participation of women in electoral processes.
WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
The limited or insignificant presence of women in decision-making spaces linked to economic policies and the biased vision of markets as the only economical setting and source of wealth, have triggered that the economic organization responds to functional logics with a system that has relegated women and has subjected them to subordination and dependency within the labor market, while they achieve a key upkeep role in other non-mercantile settings, particularly caring for others.
In Ecuador, despite belonging to the group of middle-income countries, there are gender gaps that still remain:
- According to the Transition Committee (CDT) in 2013 average monthly income for rural women was US$219 compared with US$293 in men. In urban areas, women make an average of US$421 a month, and men US$524. In 2013, the Family Food Basket price tag was US$601.60.
- According to figures reported by INEC [National Institute of Statistics and Census] (2012), women worked an average of 15 hours and 47 minutes more than men in a week. In the rural area, the number would go up to a total of 23 hours more than men.
- Women have better access to full-time jobs, social security, sustainable entrepreneurships, technical jobs and decision-making positions within firms. They experience more frequent labor mobility and unemployment than men.
- Women’s salaries are between 13-26% lower than their men peers.
- Women in rural area work in average 23 hours longer per week than men do.
- According to the figures in the Household Satellite Account, in 2014 unpaid work performed by women in Ecuador represented 15% of GDP.
- We foster capacity building for the implementation of productive initiatives focused on improving women’s quality of life.
- We encourage the inclusion of gender as part of the economic agendas both nationally and locally.
- We follow and nurture the debate and inclusion of gender equality as part of politics, guidelines and legislation linked to labor law and social protection.
- We promote the generation of statistics and the monetization of unpaid care so that it can be recognized and compensated.
ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Violence against women has immediate and long term effects in life and influences the wellbeing and development of families, communities and countries. It is one of the main obstacles for the empowerment, thriving and exercise of women rights; as well as an extreme form of inequality between women and men and gender discrimination.
Acknowledging that important steps have been taken to stop women and girls violence, the main challenges in Ecuador are:
- Limited political will to curve violence against women prevents it from being prioritized as a public health problem, resulting in policies and programs with meager results, without continuity, low coverage and quality and fragile inter-institutional and inter-sectoral coordination.
- Limited knowledge and data gathering on violence against women within the justice system, which results in suppression and disregard when presented with these cases and therefore, in impunity.
- Stereotypes and cultural practices that influence the preservation of power relationships that perpetuate subordination of women before men.
According to the National Survey on Family Interactions and Violence Against Women, from 2012:
- 6 out of 10 women have experienced some kind of violence.
- 1 out of 4 women has experienced sexual violence
- 9 out of 10 divorced women experienced some kind of violence
- Out of the total of women who have suffered physical violence, 87% has taken place within their regular partner
- Women most vulnerable to violence are between 16-20 year of age, are married of have left their parents’ home (70.5%)
- At all education levels, gender violence exceeds 50%, however, in women with the least level of education, violence reaches 70%
- Gender violence surpasses 50% in all country provinces.
UNWOMEN’s strategy and program is based under the framework of the Secretary General, BAN Ki-moon, “Unite to End Violence against Women”.
UNWOMEN works at country and local levels integrating the objectives of the “UNITE” Campaign with national policies and the legal framework, to eliminate violence against women and promote the right to live a life free of violence.
Regarding the establishment and implementation of national legislation to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, and the adoption and implementation of multi-sectoral action plans; UNWOMEN supports the justice system and the national instances that implement the National Plan for the Elimination of Violence, which seeks to:
- The development and implementation of mechanisms and tools that allow the application of substantive equality in the justice system.
- The strengthening of justice operators.
- Develop tools to judicially address the phenomenon of lethal violence against women: feminicide.
- Support the generation of spaces and dialogue mechanisms between civil society and the diverse women organizations and the justice sector.
- Streamline gender into internal policies of the judicial.
Together with civil society, UNWOMEN fosters the launch of country and local campaigns, and the social mobilization for the prevention of violence and the promotion of a life free of violence.
GENDER SENSITIVE PLANNING AND BUDGETTING
To achieve equality between women and men, the empowerment of women and the attention and restitution of women and girls -victims of any form of violence-, requires specific structures, services, plans, programs and projects. The State, as warrantor of rights, is ultimately responsible to offer these services, as well as to design and implement streamlining of gender policies as part of public and private management; and it must therefore provide the technical human and financial resources required.
Despite progress, data shows that:
- Gender equality does not appear to be a priority in the National Development Plan. This strategic document does not set specific targets to reduce the gender gap.
- After 4 years, the country has a national policy on gender equality (The Equality Agenda)
- Investment on gender equality policies, as registered by the Benchmarker of Expenditures on Gender Equality Policies, represents less than 2% of the government’s budget; and there are no institutional mechanisms that can monitor and measure this investment.
- Country wise, several surveillance and monitoring projects of local government’s investments have shown better levels of communication between women organizations and authorities; the creation and institutionalization of specialized instances on gender equality at local level; and the budgeting of public funds to women driven demands. However, these are pilot experiences not picked up by most territories.
Given this context, the challenges are:
- To strengthen the ownership of knowledge and competencies in the public sector regarding gender and streamlining, generates neutral public policies with no answer to gender gaps.
- To support and foster a strategic political positioning on gender equality as a priority of public policy, so that it is reflected in programs for gender equality with adequate funding, implementation and results.
- To strengthen the monitoring, evaluation and scrutiny of both the developed instruments, as well as the resource allocation processes aimed at gender equality within the public institutions at country and local level.
- Gender based national management and planning seek to assure governments take necessary measures to achieve results related to gender equality and the empowerment of women through the redistribution of power and resources and the assurances of an environment that is appropriate for the realization of women rights and where actions are taken against all forms of discrimination against women.