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[ARCHIVO] President Bachelet: “We are working hard to close the gender gaps”

The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, along with the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Claudia Pascual, and the Director-General of International Economic Relations, Paulina Nazal, this morning inaugurated the Third Pacific Alliance Leading Women Entrepreneurs Forum, which aims to foster the economic empowerment of women. Representatives from more than 60 companies led by women in member countries of the Alliance will participate in this meeting.

“We want to support the process of empowering women and girls, to increase women’s participation in decision-making spheres, at both the political and economic levels, and certainly within the business environment, which is the subject that brings us here today. As you all know, the possibility of our countries accelerating the growth rate – and the path to development – depends on our ability to harness our countries’ every potential,” emphasized the President during her opening words.

This forum was created in 2015 in order to foster dynamic trade and investment relationships among women entrepreneurs of Pacific Alliance countries, while establishing itself as a space for creating new businesses and developing entrepreneurial skills. First held in Mexico City and then in Lima, Peru, these earlier meetings addressed topics regarding the contribution of women to strengthening social equity and the economic development of the bloc’s countries.

“I value the significant work that the Pacific Alliance is carrying out, especially with regard to its Technical Group on Gender,” she said. She added, “they have done an excellent job, and the fact that we are in the third version of this meeting also shows the importance that is attached to the issue, as well as the increasing relevance, consolidation and diversification of our Alliance.”

Likewise, she underlined the importance of generating these spheres that motivate feminine empowerment, given that “Latin America continues to have considerable gaps in participation in the workforce, job quality, and salaries, to mention just a few. And these gaps are detrimental to women and to our societies. Things are not so different in Chile, in spite of all the efforts we make. We have made progress, but we need to progress further. Let me give you an example: women’s participation in the workforce in Chile is 48%, one of the lowest rates in the region. This has serious implications, because a low participation rate means fewer opportunities, lower income, more insecurity and less autonomy in decision making.”

The President outlined that, in order to deal with this problem, her Government has developed a series of policies, among them extending the capacity of daycare centers and increasing maternal protection programs. This is in addition to initiatives aimed at promoting co-responsibility in household chores and caregiving roles that are mainly performed by women. Along with this, several programs have been introduced to train and support the entrepreneurship of women and to facilitate the incorporation of more Chilean women into the formal and salaried workforce, such as

Banco Estado’s “CreceMujer Emprendedora” (Woman Entrepreneur Growth); the “Voucher for Innovation” under Corfo for companies headed by women; and “Women Export” of ProChile, which promotes the internationalization of the products and services of female entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the private sector, an agreement was signed with seven branches of the National Chamber of Commerce that aims to increase women’s participation in directing private companies and organizations. For example, female participation on the boards of public companies has increased from 5.3% to 42% in less than four years.

President Bachelet concluded, “we are working hard to close the gender gaps, in both the economic sphere and at all other levels of the social life of our country. And that will allow us to move forward more quickly towards the type of development that we want: development with justice, equity and inclusion.”

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