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Here are some of the ways we take gender equality into consideration in different sectors:

Financial Institutions: We provide financing and technical assistance to a range of lenders in the region—not just banks, but cooperatives, microfinance institutions and others—so that they can more effectively reach underserved markets. This includes small businesses led by women, who tend to have a harder time obtaining access to credit than their male counterparts.

We also help financial institutions improve their own policies and procedures to promote a culture of equality and diversity. This will not only strengthen their own financial performance, but prepare them to better serve all their clients.

Infrastructure: Looking at infrastructure through a gender lens provides a more complete picture of challenges and solutions. To take a simple example, a project to expand public transit needs to consider how to make the system safer for female riders.

A good first step toward finding gender-focused solutions is to hire a diverse staff. We work with companies to create internships and training programs that will encourage young women to pursue disciplines related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A 2014 IDB study found that only 11 percent of Latin American female graduates of higher education have degrees in STEM fields.

Corporates: In every sector—whether agribusiness, manufacturing, tourism or telecommunications—companies can benefit from a thorough assessment to determine how they can improve their productivity and spur innovation by creating a fairer work environment.

Because of historical disparities, many efforts focus on women, but gender equality applies across the board. For example, making family-friendly policies such as parental leave available to men as well as women can increase employee retention and strengthen recruitment. The more that men and women alike can rise to their full potential, the better it is for business.

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