Gender Equality in Latin America Still Has a Very Long Way to Go

Erwin C. points to some depressing stats that highlight just how structurally unequal Latin American countries remain when it comes to girls’ and women’s rights:

According to the EFE news agency 75 million girls worldwide do not receive a secondary education, 64% of all HIV/AIDS cases are in women under the age of 24 and every three seconds a girl is forced to get married.  In several Latin America and the Caribbean countries the statistics are no less reassuring:

  • In 2009, 15.5% of Mexican girls between the age of 15 and 19 had at least one child partly as a result of 61.2% of teens who did not use birth control.
  • 69% of the 7551 reported cases of domestic or sexual violence in Peru during the first eight months of this year involved girls under the age of 17.
  • A survey taken two years ago showed that 43% of women in the Dominican Republic aged between 20 and 49 had married before reaching the age of 18.
  • 70% of Bolivian girls do not got to school while 30% of girls residing in rural areas finish elementary school.
  • 248 girls under the age of 14 were killed last year in Colombia,which is up from 176 in 2010.
  • 14% of Ecuadorian indigenous girls between the ages of 5 and 17 do not attend school.
  • Roland Angerer of the Plan International NGO told EFE that for Central American girls the “quality of education is worse” than other regions and the levels of malnutrition are “worrying”.

While women’s issues often focus on challenges facing adult women in Latin America, including issues such as femicide or  reproductive rights, there’s no denying that the inequalities and obstacles that young girls face simultaneously reveal just how unequal things remain even while also pointing to structural explanations on broader gender inequality and the struggles for women’s rights in Latin America. Obviously, given how diverse the problems Erwin points to are, there is no easy solution, but addressing issues like education, domestic abuse, and social programs can do no small part in helping improve the status for all females in Latin America, from childhood to adulthood.

[UPDATE] Chad Black has some comments on these data as well, particularly in terms of how these real-world problems run up against cultural values like anonymity for misogynists on the internet.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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