The Dominican Republic is classified as a middle-income country. Between 2004 and 2012 the country had one of the regions highest growth rates with 4.7%. Despite this economic advancement 35% of the population live below the poverty line and 7.9% live below the line of extreme poverty, reflecting the low level of income distribution. This context shapes several of the challenges to gender equality including violence against women and girls, high rates of maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy. Discriminatory attitudes and norms present further obstacles in achieving gender equality.
In January 2010, the Dominican Republic amended its Constitution which incorporated important elements for the advancement of gender equality declaring that the state should promote equal rights for women and men (Art. 39), responsible motherhood and fatherhood and the value of domestic work (Art. 55), and it condemns domestic and gender-based violence (Art. 42). The Dominican Republic ratified CEDAW in 1982 and the Optional Protocol in 2001, as well as the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women (“Convention of Belem Do Para”). The country’s willingness to work towards gender equality is reflected in the National Development Strategy 2030 by constituting one of its four pillars. The National Plan for Gender Equality (PLANEG) 2007-2017, launched by the Ministry of Women, as well as the inclusion of gender equality in sector plans (health, employment and competitiveness, education, science and technology, communication, and justice) are other promising aspects in the current context.
However, there is a need for this will to materialize in the national budget allocation and in the granting of resources to public policies with a gender perspective. For example, the Ministry of Women receives only 1% of the National General Budget, with an annual allocation of less than 500 million pesos (just over a million dollars).
UN Women’s work is guided by the priorities and principles of UN Women’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017 and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2012-2016, with an emphasis to increase women’s participation—in politics, in decision-making processes, and in economic and livelihood opportunities— and supporting women´s personal empowerment to know and claim their rights. Efforts have included:
- Mainstreaming gender in national planning and policy-making: UN Women provides assistance, support and advice to the government of the Dominican Republic to develop strategies and instruments to mainstream gender in plans, programs and projects developed by central government institutions and local governments. This function is particularly relevant given the new legislative environment which has resulted in the need to adapt and adjust laws, which in turn has created debates concerning various topics related to the rights of women in achieving genuine equality including political rights, sexual and reproductive rights, economic rights, and especially, gender violence.
- Closing gender gaps in social protection and security: As a joint initiative with UNDP and ILO, UN Women has since 2013 contributed to and promoted investigation and analysis of the social protection floor from a gender perspective. The overall purpose of the social protection floor is to overcome social inequalities. From a national perspective this implies tackling gender inequality as a form of social inequality which must be integral and mainstreamed.
- Promoting gender equality and women´s rights: UN Women promotes women´s rights and gender equality through campaign advocacy, including the Beijing+20 platform and HeForShe. Activities have included workshops with civil society organizations, dissemination of information through social media and at national events.
Finally, the UN Women Training Centre (formerly known as INSTRAW) is based in the Dominican Republic. It delivers high quality training for gender equality by offering a diverse range of self-paced, moderated, blended and face-to-face courses, tools and services on topics such as gender-based violence, the care economy and masculinities.