Unlike some of its geographical neighbors, Paraguay adopted quick and strict measures against the COVID-19 pandemic when it first struck the South American nation in early March 2020. The contagion was under control at first and grew at a relatively low rate. However, the quarantine measures affected Paraguayan women in the workforce in particular. Microcredits for women in Paraguay underwent implementation to help small business owners and women working in the agricultural sector who COVID-19 impacted.
Job Loss for Paraguayan Women
For over 200,000 Paraguayan women, following the security measures could mean losing their jobs without the compensation of social security nets. The vast majority of women who work informally (that is, receiving pay daily as laborers, rather than receiving a stable salary) risk getting the COVID-19 virus or getting laid off.
The situation was especially dire for rural and indigenous women, who make up the largest percentage of the informal employment sector. Fortunately, Paraguay has put a lot of fiscal effort in relief for those finding themselves in precarious employment situations. It has allocated over $2.5 billion to mitigate the crisis. It will send economic relief to the communities that the pandemic has affected the most.
Recovery for Paraguay and Microcredits for Women
More than $970 million is going toward the financing of new credits for those working in the informal sector. This plan, Ñapu’ā Paraguay (Recovery for Paraguay), is focussing on granting relief checks. In addition, the plan attends to people who, because of their day laborer conditions, cannot afford to work from home.
This government plan is especially targeting women, under the name of Kuña Katupyry (Skilled Women), where microcredits for women go to small business owners and women working in the agricultural sector. These microcredits offer flexibility for payments and applying for group loans. In this situation, a whole community becomes responsible for paying the loan on time.
What has been remarkable about these loans is that they require little to no paperwork, are accessible and grant women economic independence and empowerment. In some cases, they become free from compromising situations at home where violence towards women is ever more present. The Kuña Katupyry loans benefit women ranging from ages 18 to 75. The loans have been vital in keeping afloat agricultural production. With the COVID-19 crisis, the need to maintain a sturdy local food production became more evident.
Over 1,200 women living in rural Paraguay have already been benefited from this program. It emerged in early 2020 to combat the effects of the pandemic. Many more guilds formed by women have signed up for benefits, including artisans and women working in the tourism sector.
Moving Forward with the Program
Kuña Katupyry plans on expanding to more rural sectors this year so more women can be beneficiaries of this initiative. It is not only relevant for informal individual workers, but also for families and communities in Paraguay. As a country relying heavily on the unorganized labor sector, these types of microcredits for women are not only commendable but essential.
– Araí Yegros