The goal of the Gender Equality Policy and Action Plan (GEPAP) is to contribute to the sustainable development of Saint Lucia through addressing gender gaps in access to financial services.
Data available indicate that gender gaps are not as wide in Saint Lucia as they are in other countries of the Region. According to a Study from the ILO, Saint Lucia is one of only three countries in the world where most managers are women. In 2016, 53.1 per cent of managers were women.
But Saint Lucia stills experiences the following gender inequalities affecting women and men:
- Estimated at 15%, gender gaps in labour force participation (62% for women and 77% for men) are not as wide as global gaps estimated to be around 25%;
- Traditional gender roles as regards productive and reproductive work leave women largely responsible for reproductive work, which allows them less time to pursue employment and business opportunities. The impacts of these are particularly important for women who are heading an estimated two of every five Saint Lucian households as it poses significant constraints on labour-force participation.
- In most sectors, men earn more than women to the exception of construction, administrative and support service activities, education, and – with the largest difference in favour of women – human health and social work activities. These wage gaps in favour of women are mostly due to their higher level of education. In 2013-2014, women accounted for two thirds of students attending tertiary education institutions.
Tensions in gender relations are emerging and can be attributed to the combined effects of the dominance of older men in employment, educational gains by women that are not matched by adequate employment opportunities and high unemployment and underemployment rates for young men, attributed to their lower educational achievement. The lack of participation of young men in the productive sectors and their disengagement from family responsibilities is a source of concern for all Saint Lucian stakeholders met during the consultations held for the drafting of this GEPAP.
It is against this background of gender gaps affecting women and men that the SLDB’s Gender Policy and Action Plan have been developed.
Filling gender gaps in access to development finance offer many business opportunities. These unmet needs represent potential business opportunities for Saint Lucian female and male entrepreneurs and for the SLDB’s loan portfolio. In addition, addressing unmet financial needs of some segments of the population (for e.g. youth, men/women living in rural areas) represent some untapped business opportunities. By working closely with potential clients and partner organizations to better understand the needs, challenges and opportunities of women and men who have limited access to or are excluded form financial services, SLDB can access these market oppurtunities.