The World Economic Forum has just published its annual report on the Gender Gap-a quantitative measure of gender equality at the country level. The results were shocking. Nicaragua is the only country in Latin America that is among the top 10, well above the United States (22).
Of the 135 countries that report, Nicaragua is at No. 5 in the world in terms of gender equality in the political empowerment dimension of a combined weight percentage of women in the assembly (where Nicaragua has 40% ) and ministerial posts (in which Nicaragua has more than 50%) This classification was largely based on legislation passed in May 2012, which requires that 50% of political party candidates be women.
As a country we have suffered enough. Rarely have reason to celebrate our global excellence, especially when it comes to women's issues. However, this is one. So why no celebration? Moreover, there was not much local media attention. I did not see a report from the government. Also, any social group or entities mentioned women this achievement and certainly there has been international attention on the matter.
As director of the Center for Women's Leadership INCAE, I had the opportunity to ask leading public and private sector of Nicaragua, as well as diplomatic members of the community. The conclusion was that very few seem to care that women are in power. Apparently they care more about the reasons why this law was passed.
According to a representative source, "the purpose of this law was the empowerment of women, was simply to acquire more power. This law is intended to attract the female vote in the future. "Another source said:" This law was intended to destabilize the opposition main-who did not have enough female candidates in line. " Moreover, another source told us that "these women are being used as pawns, they are less likely to come to question the authority of the government."
Such views are interesting and potentially valuable that should be explored in depth. However, these should not be brought into action.
I'm not a political figure. I'm a scientist. At Harvard, during my doctoral studies, I was taught to base my beliefs / opinions not emotions, hopes, dreams, or political orientation, but rather on data and facts. In this case, the data are quite clear.
Gender equality in political participation, regardless of how this arose-is positive. Currently, half of Nicaragua's population are women, they receive 60% of university degrees, make up half the workforce and research shows they are more likely than women vs. men invest their money in the health and education of their families. Given this, it makes no sense that those who form and define policies affecting these women and their families are primarily men. Women's voices must be heard, they are required to drive progress.
As a function of this law, this morning, in every village, town and region of Nicaragua, a woman gets up, gives your family breakfast and goes to work in a position of formal political power.
The implications of this go beyond politics. Latin America is still a region where machismo prevails, leadership has always been and continues to be associated with men. As a result there is a tremendous waste of human resources, countless talented women, education and financial power whose ideas and contributions have been neglected and ignored.
What is the fastest way to overcome these prejudices?,? Empower women and bring a positive economic, social and cultural? The data show that it is not by gender or expensive training programs on women's empowerment financed by international aid organizations, but is by example, put more women in positions of power and make them visible people.
For the first time in the history of Nicaragua, equal numbers of men and women sit at the table of power and political decision. Regardless of how or why they got there, the data show that these women are going to shape and define the future of Nicaragua for the better. The change does not come overnight, it comes in spurts. This is progress.
* INCAE Professor, Director Center for Women's Leadership
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