Women and Men will together bolster Latin America’s future
By Rachel Samrén, Executive Vice President, Chief External Affairs Officer at Millicom (TIGO)
As citizens, institutions and companies around the globe celebrate International Women’s Day this month, I want to reflect on our moment in history and what it actually means for people in Latin American countries.
Women represent more than half of Latin America’s population. They are in many ways the region’s future, yet I believe that it’s when men and women support each other that great things happen.
The CAF Development Bank of Latin America attributed much of the “Latin American Miracle” of the past 20 years, during which growth rates annually-averaged around five percent, to the increasing inclusion of women in various economies.
Women have gained in greater participation in labor markets. Their average years of schooling and life expectancy rates are on the rise alongside women’s political participation and seats in the highest echelons of power, according to the World Bank.
Such accomplishments couldn’t be made without both men and women working hand-in-hand to lift each other up. As parents support their daughters in pursuing a career or men support their partners with sharing domestic endeavors, women have a better opportunity to join, and remain active in, the workforce. And the same happens at work, where men are women are more often considered equally – as they always should be! - for job opportunities. This must continue in order for Latin America to achieve its full potential.
The UN has noted that the Latin America region is ahead of the curve when it comes to growth in female labor inclusion. On average, across the region, in 2019 female labor force participation grew from 47% to 52%, according to a 2019 McKinsey Global Institute report.
Men and women support each other to make those increases a reality through organizations like Pro Mujer and Millicom’s Conectadas program that train girls and women in digital literacy and entrepreneurship, which in turn helps make economic opportunities accessible to them. Between 2017 and 2019 Millicom trained 324,000 girls and women, providing a pathway to true digital inclusion and a world of opportunity. Many of those who trained them were male volunteers from Tigo operations across the region.
Women and men have also partnered together to put more women into Latin American offices of government than ever before. According to the America Society / Council of the Americas in 2018, 28.9 percent of all congressional seats in the region were occupied by women, an increase of 3.7 percent since January 2014, and 5.1 percent above today’s global average. The region has also seen an impressive number of female heads of state when compared to the rest of the world in recent years, including four female heads of state simultaneously during the previous decade. Currently there are eight female vice presidents in the region, a significant achievement.
Internally at Millicom, we’re also doing our part. Today 37 percent of our workforce are female, and that number continues to grow. But we still have more work to do and we will continue to support the development of both women and men through rotation assignments, specialized trainings, and new job opportunities across our operations.
The impressive list of accomplishments resulting from men and women supporting each other is hopefully only a preview of what’s to come. Its continuation can help ensure Latin America reaches its full potential so long as men and women continue to be dedicated to ensuring everyone has the tools and knowledge to overcome social or economic obstacles and improve not only their own destinies, but those of their communities and countries as well.
*Millicom (NASDAQ U.S.: TIGO, Nasdaq Stockholm: TIGO_SDB) is a leading provider of cable and mobile services dedicated to emerging markets in Latin America and Africa. Millicom sets the pace when it comes to providing high-speed broadband and innovation around The Digital Lifestyle® services through its principal brand, TIGO. As of December 31, 2019, Millicom operating subsidiaries and joint ventures employed more than 22,000 people and provided mobile services to approximately 52 million customers, with a cable footprint of more than 11 million homes passed. Founded in 1990, Millicom International Cellular S.A. is headquartered in Luxembourg.