Dancing in the mists, a look at the inequality of young women in Latin America

UNESCO, El Colegio de México and CLACSO presented the project “Dancing in the mists. Gender and youth in unequal environments in Latin America and the Caribbean”. This is not just a report, it also has a vocation as a platform for action, which seeks to inspire alternatives, with the expectation of achieving sustained transformations for the achievement of justice and equity in the region.

Regarding the report, El Economista spoke with Dr. Juan Cruz Olmeda, a research professor at the Center for International Studies of El Colegio de México and a participant in the project. He explains that from previous studies we know that Latin America and the Caribbean is the most unequal region in the world, but these inequalities do not affect everyone equally, “that is why we thought it was very relevant to approach it thinking particularly about how it affects young people and mainly young women. From there came the idea of ​​putting together something that would put this issue on the agenda.

“Dancing in the mists, on the one hand, refers to the situation of uncertainty generated by these inequalities in an environment that is difficult to navigate, but at the same time it carries a certain hopeful message, that even in this context, it is possible to do things and maintain the idea that everything can change”, details Cruz Olmeda.

With this coincidence between institutions, 30 people from 10 different countries began to work, most of them academics, but they did not want to produce the typical collective books that simply speak to a small sector, but rather to generate something for a broader public, which fundamentally be attractive to young people.

The result of this report was “a rigorous analysis, which addresses inequalities from different angles, and proposes the idea that inequalities accumulate, that is, it is not only a matter of income, gender , ethnicity, among others, are also relevant aspects”.

On the other hand, although the intention of the report is to show and analyze certain issues, they did not want to remain in a diagnosis, with this work they try to promote a call to action. For this reason, the image part was taken care of, to link with artistic works, generate videos, and even a list with Spotify songs that are relevant. Another fundamental part is that life stories of young women who face unequal environments were recovered and that in many cases promotes initiatives to try to overcome this situation.

Finally, beyond the specific actions of each country, the report raises the need to establish active policies that empower young women. “Specifically, these policies should pay attention to education, a very important challenge that during the pandemic revealed the great inequalities.” The researcher assures that education does not solve everything, but it is a very important factor for these women to have better access to the labor market.

Latin America, with many similarities and challenges

Despite the heterogeneities within and outside the countries, in regional terms many similarities continue to exist. Women continue to have less participation in the labor market and in turn are exposed to precarious jobs, on the other hand, they face adolescent pregnancies involuntarily and are the ones who assume care work, all interrelated to generate adverse scenarios.

For this reason, the report also tries to draw attention to new inequalities, for example, those that have to do with the effects of climate change, access to digital media and technology, and even mental health issues. “These are inequalities that are added to the others and that combination is what generates a condition of greater disadvantage.”

Dr. Cruz Olmeda assures that this is a debate that has to take place in regional terms, “there are many shared problems, that is why we believe that it is a discussion that has to be installed in the public debate, that is why the Colegio de México has This link with UNESCO and CLACSO has been very important, to take this debate beyond Mexico and promote a link between officials, academia, civil society organizations, activists, among other actors that allow certain results to be achieved.”

“When public policies for youth are proposed, most of the time they have an adult-centric vision, where youth is seen as something that is going to happen in the future, where the State has to protect these people to protect them. Without ignoring that young people are exposed to certain dangers, we believe that they also, and the report makes it clear, already play an active role in social life and in public discussion, that is why their voice must have an important role to when designing policies.

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