TACOMA, Washington — Despite its status as a middle-income nation, Ecuador continues to struggle with economic disparities as more than 650,000 people live on less than $1.90 a day. As the traditional caregivers within Ecuadorian society, women have a significant influence on the education and empowerment of future generations, thus, gender inequality plays a bigger role than most people might imagine in the perpetuation of poverty. Fortunately, the Karla Morales Foundation is working to change the way the world values girls, championing the idea that ending gender inequality in Ecuador significantly reduces poverty for the entire population.
Women in Ecuador
Ecuador faces challenging economic and societal gender inequalities. In urban areas, the average monthly income for a woman is around $100 less than that of a man despite the fact that urban women work an average of 15 hours and 47 minutes more per week than their male counterparts. This is especially surprising when recognizing the fact that, in 2014, Ecuadorian women’s unpaid work made up 15% of the country’s GDP.
Women also experience mistreatment within society. More than half of the female population experience some kind of violence throughout their lives, often at the hands of an intimate partner. Statistics show that the most vulnerable Ecuadorian women are young, married and uneducated.
Empowerment Through Education
Education is the key to fighting gender inequality, and consequently, poverty. Empowering women through education gives them the confidence and tools to become economically independent, generate a higher income and improve their quality of life along with that of their children, therefore helping future generations break the cycle of poverty. Educated women can also participate in the labor market, an addition that would benefit Ecuador’s overall economy. “Women represent half the world’s population, and therefore, half its potential,” Luli Larrea, project manager at Karla Morales Foundation, told The Borgen Project in an interview. Numbers consistently show that ending gender inequality in Ecuador reduces poverty rates. Larrea is convinced that gender equality can help Ecuador become a fairer, more equitable and civilized society.
The Karla Morales Foundation
The Karla Morales Foundation started in 2014 as a volunteer movement in Ecuador to help the country’s impoverished people. In 2016, it became a legal nonprofit organization but headquartered in the United States where the founders believed tax benefits make it more feasible to ask for donations.
The Foundation then created Let Girls Rise, a program that works to give girls in Ecuador greater access to education and entrepreneurship. The program’s media campaigns, the direct action of its volunteers and its funding of scholarships, academic materials and community infrastructure, furthered the well-being of hundreds of Ecuadorian girls who now have access to an education they were previously unable to afford.
Pan de Mamá, another of the Foundation’s projects, also champions the idea that ending gender inequality in Ecuador reduces poverty. The project individualizes a majority of single mothers and helps them start or continue a business close to home so that they can take care of their children while generating a greater income to invest in their education.
Gender Equality Reduces Poverty
In 2015, more than 190 nations agreed to collectively improve the world’s living conditions by 2030. This agreement created the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve a better world through the alleviation of poverty, hunger and poor health, among many other targets. The Karla Morales Foundation is doing incredible work to achieve this end. The Foundation’s empowerment of women is directing Ecuador toward a more gender-equal future, an invaluable step toward improving global poverty.
– Margherita Bassi