women's empowerment in BoliviaBolivia, or the Republic of Bolivia, is a country located in South America. Europeans, Aymaras, Quechuas and other ethnicities form the group of habitants in the South American country. Half of the 10 million Bolivian citizens are indigenous.

Such a variety of cultures and ethnicities leads to different religions, sociopolitical points of view and traditions. But among these differences, there is something tragic that remains a part of modern Bolivian society: abuse of women and children.

The main problem that women face in Bolivia is trafficking and forced prostitution. Sexual exploitation in the Latin American country is a serious situation that requires immediate action from the government. Young girls and women are taken away from their households in rural areas and are sent overseas to urban areas to be sex workers. Spain, Russia, Brazil and Peru are the countries that most women end up in.

On a smaller scale, women suffer abuse in their own households from their own husbands. The United Nations is working hand in hand with the Bolivian government to improve the situation and encourage women’s empowerment in Bolivia.

Men are more empowered than women in Bolivia. Habitat Bolivia is one of the organizations that is fighting this inequality and is working to empower women within their homes and families. The abuse of women and children in Bolivia is the second highest priority after poverty.

More than 300 women and men have completed a program run by Habitat Bolivia. The program covers gender equality, how to tackle leadership roles, human rights and housing. The next step for the graduates is to apply this new knowledge in their communities and lives.

Women’s empowerment in Bolivia is also important in the workplace. Women participating in community associations or taking on leadership roles is almost unthinkable in Bolivian society. This lack of support makes women less empowered in the workplace and gives them fewer opportunities for advancement.

Seeds is an initiative promoted by the United Nations’ office in Bolivia. The program is based on the idea of creating employment opportunities in good conditions for Bolivian women. Seeds helps women by lending them money to start businesses and create awareness about the issue. Seeds has helped over 1,000 Bolivian women get loans, build financial assets and exercise their rights.

Yes, Bolivia still has gender inequality throughout its society, but everyday help from different NGOs as well as the Bolivian government itself is changing women’s empowerment in Bolivia for the better.

– Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr