Americas Caribbean Climate Change & Climate Action Economy & Business Latin America Resilience & Society Women


March 7, 2024

Not without her: A roadmap for gender equality and Caribbean prosperity

By Wazim Mowla and Valentina Sader


The Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable regions globally. It harbors economies that are open-faced and import-dependent, making it susceptible to the ravages of climate change, fluctuating commodity prices, and inflationary pressures. While governments and financial institutions grapple with these perpetual stresses, it is the Caribbean citizens, particularly women and girls, who bear the heaviest burden.

Nestled in this uniquely vulnerable region, women and girls face a multitude of challenges, demanding comprehensive support from both governments and financial institutions to enhance their resilience and opportunities throughout society. Their integration across various sectors, including government, business, and local organizations, emphasizes that addressing gender challenges cannot occur in isolation.

The global issues looming over the Caribbean magnify the specific hurdles confronting women and girls. From gender-based violence (GBV) and economic barriers to limited political influence and the disproportionate impacts of climate change, the challenges intertwine, creating a crisis of gender inequality and inequity across the Caribbean.

This publication compiles findings from a yearlong consultative effort, revealing that the challenges faced by women and girls are rooted in societal perceptions of their roles and restricted access to tools and resources. To overcome these barriers, a fundamental reshaping of social norms, alongside political and financial institutions, is imperative. Moreover, integrating women and girls into the development model aligns with the region’s broader ambitions of achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unlocking untapped human capital and fostering long-term prosperity.

In collaboration with the UN Women Caribbean Multi-Country Office, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and its Caribbean Initiative embarked on a year-long partnership. This initiative aimed to address GBV, economic empowerment challenges, limited political influence, and the disproportionate effects of climate change facing women and girls in the Caribbean. The extensive consultative process involved roundtable discussions, capacity-building sessions, and one-on-one consultations, shedding light on the preconceptions held by both men and women toward women and girls in Jamaica and Guyana during 2023. The partnership has honed in on social norms as a focal point, recognizing their impact on perceptions and discussions about the challenges faced by women and girls.

About the authors

Wazim Mowla is the associate director and fellow of the Caribbean Initiative at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. He leads the development and execution of the initiative’s programming, including the Financial Inclusion Task Force, the US-Caribbean Consultative Group, the PACC 2030 Working Group, and the Caribbean Energy Working Group. Since joining the Council, Mowla has co-authored major publications on the strategic importance of sending US COVID-19 vaccines to the Caribbean, strategies to address financial de-risking, and how the United States can advance new policies to support climate and energy resilience. As part of his work on the Caribbean, Mowla was called to provide Congressional testimony to the US House Financial Services Committee on financial de-risking.

Valentina Sader is a deputy director at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, where she leads the Center’s work on Brazil, gender equality and diversity, and manages the Center’s Advisory Council. During her time at the Council, Valentina has managed the launch of the Center’s Advisory Council, a high-level group of former policy makers, business leaders, and influencers from the United States and the region. She has co-authored publications on the US-Brazil strategic partnership and coordinated events with high-level policymakers, business leaders, and civil society members in both Brazil and the US. She also provides English- and Portuguese-language commentary on political and economic issues in Brazil to major media outlets, such as Al Jazeera and BBC Brasil.

The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center broadens understanding of regional transformations and delivers constructive, results-oriented solutions to inform how the public and private sectors can advance hemispheric prosperity.

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