Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fund for Females In Politics

Caribbean gets funds to boost female political participation

WASHINGTON, United States, November 18, 2009 - The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a regional grant of up to US$2.25 million to support initiatives to increase political participation by women from Latin America and the Caribbean, especially Afro-descendents and indigenous women.

Entitled 'New Horizons: Toward Increased Political Participation by Women', the project has been approved by the IDB at a time when women have gained access to the region's highest political posts. Michelle Bachelet was elected president of Chile in 2005; the following year Portia Simpson Miller became Jamaica's prime minister; and in 2007, Cristina Kirchner became president of Argentina by popular mandate.

In barely two years, from 2005 to 2007, the number of women holding posts as ministers in Latin America rose from 15 per cent to 24 per cent of the total, the IDB noted.

"The presence of women in the legislative branches has also grown in a sustained way, in part because 12 countries in the region have adopted a quota system for candidate slates that sets a minimum for women. The number of women congressional representatives in Latin America and the Caribbean has climbed from seven per cent in 1990 to 19 per cent in 2009," it added.

Despite these advances, a recent IDB study found that gender equality is far from being a reality and the growing number of women in public positions does not include indigenous or Afro-descended women, even in countries where these groups represent a substantial proportion of the population.

"This project will make it possible to finance strategic measures aimed at strengthening effective participation by women in areas of decision-making that affect their lives and the lives of their families," explains IDB project team leader Gabriela Vega.

The grant, which comes from the new IDB Multidonor Gender and Diversity Fund created in May 2009, will finance a variety of initiatives over a three-year period.

It will also finance initiatives to help create exchange networks; facilitate the transfer of ideas, strategies and resources; and develop awareness of why it is important for women to participate in decision-making. In addition, the funds will finance academic research about women's leadership, modernization of the State and mechanisms to strengthen women's leadership and participation though public policy and multilateral banking operations.

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