(EFE).- The United States’ vice president launched an initiative on Tuesday to promote gender equality in Central America in the hope that creating more opportunities for women will result in a decrease in irregular migration.
Kamala Harris also announced that the private sector would invest an additional $1.9 billion in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“When we provide economic opportunity for people in Central America, we address an important driver of migration,” Harris said during a side event of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
The VP focused on the need to improve opportunities for women in the region at a time when the arrival of undocumented immigrants at the US’ southern border is on the rise and a caravan of about 15,000 migrants is making its way through southern Mexico.
Harris presented the “In Her Hands” initiative, which aims to connect more than 1.4 million women in Central America and other Latin American countries to the financial system and the digital economy, and to accelerate women’s participation in the agroindustry.
The project also aims to impart core job skills training to more than 500,000 women and girls through a new $50 million Center for Gender Equity, created by the CARE humanitarian organization and expected to be based in Guatemala.
Promoting gender parity and elevating women within companies across the region are another two other goals of the initiative.
“When you lift up the economic status of women, you lift up the economic status of families, of her community, and of our entire hemisphere,” Harris said.
As part of her plan to create “an ecosystem of opportunity” for women in Central America, Harris highlighted the need to work with civil society to “reduce gender-based violence in the region.”
Central America’s Northern Triangle has among the world’s highest femicide rates although many cases of gender-based violence and sexual abuse remain unreported.
This violence forces many women in the Northern Triangle to flee to other places, including the US.
“When women don’t have financial stability – if they don’t have financial stability, the data shows us that they are more likely to stay in abusive relationships,” said the US vice president, who added that economic opportunities for women can lead to “a reduction in domestic violence, a reduction in sexual violence, a reduction in gender-based violence.”
The $1.9 billion investment announced on Tuesday takes the total sum invested by companies including Microsoft, Nespresso, Visa and Gap in different projects in the Northern Triangle in the last 12 months to $3.2 billion, according to the White House.
“This investment is on track to generate, as a result of what we have done so far, tens of thousands of jobs, investments in sectors such as agriculture and textiles.This investment also means that more than 10 million people will have access to banking services and credit within that region,” Harris said.
She added that these investments will have a “direct impact on the quality of life” of the around 30 million residents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The vice-president also announced the creation of the $50 million Central American Service Corps (CASC) initiative to “provide young people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with paid community service opportunities, mentorship, and a path to future employment,” the White House said.
Central America and the Caribbean will continue to be Harris’ focus during the Summit of the Americas, the plenary session of which begin in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The White House has not yet confirmed whether the US vice president will meet representatives of Central American countries. EFE
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