With its disproportionate impact on women and girls, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated structural gender inequalities in Colombia. Working in sectors hard hit by the crisis, Colombian women have been more vulnerable to job loss than men. Similarly, lockdown measures and school and childcare facility closures imposed an increased burden of unpaid work on women, while exposing them to a higher risk of domestic violence.

As it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, Colombia can seize this opportunity to make progress in achieving gender equality goals and closing gender gaps. Addressing gender inequalities can strengthen the country’s resilience to future shocks, promote more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and help achieve broad societal goals, such as increasing levels of trust in institutions and strengthening democracy. At the time of the publication of this report, the government of Colombia just approved a law for the establishment of a Ministry for Equality and Equity, with the aim to reinforce the country’s institutional framework and capacities for gender equality and mainstreaming. Going forward, it will be important to ensure that promoting gender equality remains a priority of the government’s agenda, despite increased economic, environmental and geopolitical pressures.

Building on the progress that Colombia has recently made, this report proposes ways to strengthen policy and institutional frameworks and government capacities to promote gender equality at both the national and subnational levels. It assesses the policy and institutional frameworks for gender equality, including the systems in place to mainstream gender considerations into the policy- and decision-making cycles and to harness government tools (such as regulations, budgeting and public procurement) strategically. It also examines the country’s institutional capacities for responding to crises in a gender-sensitive manner, with a view to integrating a gender perspective in Colombia’s emergency management processes.

This report was prepared as part of a six-year co-operative project between the government of Colombia and the OECD to promote institutional efficiency and sound public governance in the country. It was developed at the request of Colombia to further support gender equality, based on previous work conducted within the project. The objectives of this project build directly on the recommendations developed in the in the context of the project in 2019 (in the OECD Public Governance Scan of Colombia) and in 2020 (in the OECD Report “Gender Equality in Colombia: Access to Justice and Politics at the Local Level”) to enhance institutional efficiency and government effectiveness in gender equality. The work also promotes a recovery pathway from the COVID-19 crisis that facilitates the economic and social empowerment in Colombia of women from diverse backgrounds.

The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), in line with the agency’s objectives to encourage democratic governance, strengthen environmental policy making, enhance peace and security through citizen participation, guarantee human rights, strengthen democracy, and increase the capacity to govern. The project builds on the OECD Gender Initiative, including the 2013 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship and the 2015 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life, as well as on the work advanced by the OECD Working Party on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance.

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