2. Gender equality in Colombia: A snapshot of gaps and opportunities

In recent years, Colombia has undertaken actions to address existing gender inequalities. As shown by the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) (OECD, 2019[1]), the country has very low levels of discrimination against women in social institutions: women have the same legal rights as men to own, use and make decisions over their land and non-land assets, as well as to be head of household, inherit, enter marriage, initiate and finalise divorce, and acquire, change and confer their nationality (OECD, 2019[2]). As for its legislative frameworks, Colombia has enacted a number of laws addressing women’s economic empowerment, their inclusion in the labour market, their political participation, public management with a gender equity approach (UN Women, 2018[3]), as well as their reproductive rights (Republic of Colombia, Constitutional Court, 2022[4]). As shown in Chapter 3, Colombia has also recently reinforced its public policy framework for gender equality, by adopting a new national public policy on gender equality for women (CONPES1 document 4080 of 2022). A stand-alone section on women’s rights was also included in the National Development Plan 2018-2022.

However, despite progress on the policy side, persistent gender gaps still limit equality and economic growth. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities in the country, with differential effects on certain demographic groups, the economic and social impact falling disproportionately upon women and girls (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). As in many OECD countries, these gaps continue to prevent women of diverse backgrounds from fully participating in economic, public and political life – a prerequisite for stronger and vibrant democracies, increased levels of trust in public institutions (OECD, forthcoming[6]) and sustainable and inclusive recovery.

As it bounces back from the COVID-19 crisis, Colombia can seize this window of opportunity for progressing towards gender equality goals and closing existing gaps. Gender mainstreaming, as a strategy for integrating a gender lens in policy making, can help governments make better decisions to drive gender equality objectives forward (OECD, 2021[7]). Promoting a co-ordinated and strong whole-of-government commitment, with clear, effective mechanisms for translating policies, programmes, services and budgets into concrete benefits for all women and men, has the potential to address specific issues more effectively. These include women’s leadership in public decision making, gender-based violence and sector-specific barriers to gender equality, at the same time promoting inclusive growth and stronger democracies. However, growing economic, environmental and geopolitical pressures increase the likelihood that gender equality may become less of a priority on the government’s political agenda, and risks increasing gender gaps. In this challenging context, it is important to continue to promote gender equality to deliver sustainable and better outcomes for all.

The economic literature has sought to explain the major determinants of economic growth and development, and their interactions. Some innovative models have emerged, incorporating gender equality and helping to explain uneven economic growth on the basis of gaps in access to the labour market, education, health, and political participation, among other things. Various indicators can be used to measure gender (in)equality in different policy areas. For example, labour force participation gap, women’s share of the labour force, and wage gap can be considered to capture gender inequality in employment. Likewise, gender gaps in school and university enrolment, educational attainment and student performance can help measure disparities in education. Women’s participation in politics can instead be assessed by analysing, for instance, the share of women in national parliaments and in ministerial positions, as well as the percentage of women candidates running for elected offices.

Some studies have found a positive relationship between economic growth and gender equality, as measured by a comprehensive index developed using the methodology of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap (Tena, 2009[8]).

Other studies have focused on specific variables related to the labour market, to assess the impact of gender gaps on per capita output (Volart, 2004[9]). Some analyses of Latin American countries have assessed the relationship between economic growth and gender shifts in the labour force, measured as the participation of women in the labour market. The results suggest that women’s greater participation in the labour force and greater income-generating opportunities for women have a positive effect on aggregate demand, investment and growth (Vásconez Rodríguez, 2017[10]). Similarly, emerging evidence shows that increased gender equality in the workforce can have strong positive effects on GDP growth and bring productivity gains (Nicol, 2022[11]).

Other research has focused on educational inequalities, which lead to wage gaps that inhibit economic growth. Better-educated women can participate to higher-value economic activities (Lee, 2010[12]). Some studies have shown that education helps reduce the gender wage gap, by generating greater increases in women’s pay and by exerting a positive effect on economic growth (Khan et al., 2016[13]). Other studies have found that gender gaps in education have a direct effect on countries’ economic growth, as expressed in investment, labour force and population growth (Klasen and Lamanna, 2009[14]).

Some research has focused on the long-term impact of various policies to reduce gender inequality and their effect on economic growth, showing how progress in gender equality may depend on externalities that infrastructure creates by restricting women’s allocation of time and bargaining power and having a substantial impact on long-term growth, as well as on educational and health outcomes (Agénor and Canuto, 2012[15]).

Other studies have found that a higher proportion of women enrolled in primary schools, an increase in women’s life expectancy at birth, greater participation of women in the service sector and more female representation in the national parliament can generate an increase in economic growth (Mishra, Mishra and Sarangi, 2020[16]).

Finally, other research on the topic has shown that industries with higher female representation grow faster in countries that are more gender equal, suggesting that policies designed to ensure a level playing field for women are not only a matter of human rights, equity and social justice, but also increase economic growth (Bertay, 2020[17]).

Inclusive societies that ensure greater equality in all demographic groups on average show better economic performance. When inclusion and equality are pursued and guaranteed, and prosperity is more equally distributed, citizens actively participate in generating value and knowledge, and economies grow faster (McKinsey, 2021[18]).

International indicators such as the Global Gender Gap Index (Figure 2.1) and the Gender Development Index) show that countries with higher GDP per capita also tend to have smaller gender gaps. Conversely, a negative relationship between the Gender Inequality Index and the GDP per capita is noted since countries with higher scores in this indicator register greater gender inequalities (Figure 2.3).

According to the most recent national census, Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda, in 2018, Colombia recorded a total population of 44.2 million people, with women accounting for 51.2% of this figure and almost one-quarter (23.8%) of the country’s inhabitants living in rural areas. Colombia has a high degree of ethnic diversity. While 88.8% of its population does not self-identify as belonging to an ethnic group, about 90 Indigenous populations coexist in the country: 6.8% of African descent, 4.4% Indigenous, in addition to a certain number of others who are Raizal, Palenquero or Roma (ONU Mujeres, DANE and Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2020[22]).

A key demographic trend that emerges from available data in Colombia is the increase in women’s life expectancy. In the last 14 years, life expectancy has risen steadily, by more than three years for both men and women, with women living on average seven years longer. Among Latin American countries, the estimated life expectancy of Colombian women (80.0 years) is exceeded only by Chile’s (82.4 years).

As a consequence, women currently make up 55.5% of the total Colombian population of age 65 and above (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). In addition, estimates suggest that in 2050, women of 65 and older may even account for 22.8% of the total population, compared to 5% today (ONU Mujeres, DANE and Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2020[22]).

People living in rural areas tend to be concentrated in the younger age groups, with those under 20 accounting for 37.2% of women and 36.9% of men (DANE, 2021[23]). The rural population is also ageing, however, given the increase in rural-urban migration and the reduction in the birth rate. This translates into a predominantly female population in urban centres, with men remaining in rural areas to work mainly in the primary sector (Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural, 2019[24]).

Overall, fertility rates in Colombia dropped significantly between 1965 and 1990, from 6.5 to 3.2 children per woman on average. Since then, they have continued to decline, but at a slower pace, to 1.9 births per woman in 2020. Fertility rates have fallen in all age groups, but the reduction has been relatively smaller for mothers of 15 to 19 years old, dropping from 85 to 75 births for every 1 000 adolescents between 2000 and 2015. Still among OECD countries in 2020, Colombia registered the highest adolescent fertility rate, with 63 births for every 1 000 mothers of 15 to 19, compared to 21 births on average in the OECD area (World Bank, 2022[25]). Fertility rates also vary widely between departments, with women in rural areas having more children on average than those in urban centres. For example, in 2018 in Vaupés, women had 5.2 births on average, compared to only 1.5 in the capital district of Bogotá (ONU Mujeres, DANE and Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2020[22]).

One factor affecting women in Colombia has been its 60-year internal armed conflict (OECD, 2020[26]), whose impact was felt most by rural populations (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). The conflict has resulted in more than 250 000 deaths, mostly among civilians, and forced displacements, with women and girls accounting for 51% of the total (World Bank, 2020[27]).

In Colombia, enrolment rates in primary education are comparable, at 93% for both girls and boys, but drop sharply thereafter (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). As in other OECD countries, girls represent the majority (52.3%) of the students graduating from upper secondary general programmes. However, in a departure from other countries in the OECD, girls (54.6%) are more likely than boys to pursue a vocational track at the upper secondary level in Colombia (OECD, 2021[28]).

In line with the patterns across the OECD, more women than men attain tertiary degrees in Colombia. In 2021, 34.5% of women between the ages of 25 to 34 achieved a tertiary qualification, compared to 26.5% of men in the same age group (OECD, 2022[29]). Still, tertiary attainment shows significant regional disparities, with the region of Nariño counting only 15% of tertiary graduates among adults of 25 to 64, compared to 35% in the capital district of Bogotá in 2020 (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]).

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) shows that among the countries and economies represented, Colombia has one of the largest gender gaps in mathematics and science performance, favouring boys (OECD, 2019[30]). Using academic proficiency as a key predictor of educational and professional choices, PISA findings suggest that fewer girls than boys in Colombia would consider a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The dearth of women in STEM is an urgent problem worldwide, with deep-rooted causes in gender-related career expectations for boys and girls, and in entrenched stereotypes perpetuated and transmitted by families, schools and society as a whole (OECD, 2018[31]). Gender stereotypes strongly influence the way children shape their identities and imagine their educational and professional paths (Brussino and McBrien, 2022[32]). In Colombia, social and cultural norms, as well as biases in parents’ attitudes and expectations, appear to play a key role in associating scientific careers with men rather than with women (ONU Mujeres, DANE and Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2020[22]). Women in Colombia now represent 31% of new entrants in engineering, manufacturing and construction programmes and 20% in information and communication technologies, figures that are better than or in line with the OECD average (OECD, 2021[28]).

Colombia’s labour force has low female participation rates, with around half of all women of working age (15 to 64) in employment in 2020. This figure is significantly lower than for men (8 out of 10), leaving an employment gender gap of close to 25 percentage points (p.p.), exceeding the OECD average by almost 10 p.p. (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]).

Between 2015 and 2021, women were over-represented in certain sectors, accounting for a majority of people employed in: accommodation and food services (68.4%); arts, entertainment and recreation (67.6%); public administration and defence (62.2%); professional, scientific and technical activities (56%); and financial and insurance activities (55.6%) (DANE, 2020[33]). Similarly, in the same period, more than 75% of total female employment was concentrated in five sectors: trade and vehicle repair (21.7%); public administration and defence, education and human health care (16.9%); arts, entertainment and recreation (14.6%); accommodation and food services (12%); and manufacturing (11.6%). Women held a significant proportion of the jobs most affected by social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector suffering the greatest contraction was trade and vehicle repair, with a loss of more than 474 000 jobs and women accounting for 56.2% of that total. The arts, entertainment and recreation sector registered nearly 390 000 fewer people employed, of which 81.8% were women. The drop in employment in the manufacturing industry was also significant, with 315 000 fewer people employed – 70.4% of whom were women (DANE, 2020[33]).

In October 2020, acknowledging the importance of involving women in economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the national government issued a Presidential Directive (No. 11) committing to generating employment for women in sectors such as clean and sustainable growth projects, as well as to including vulnerable women in social programmes and reinforcing income and entrepreneurship among rural women (Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Colombia, 2020[34]). Box 2.1 provides a brief overview of gender-sensitive measures adopted by the national government to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The existing socioeconomic and regional differences in educational attainment illustrated in the previous Section translate into similar gaps in labour participation (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). Employment rates are lower among individuals from disadvantaged households and those living in rural areas. Likewise, the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were especially severe for Colombian women with lower levels of education (CPEM, 2020[38]).

As is typical in both Latin America and in OECD countries, around 40% of women who are employed work part-time, compared to 10% of men (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). Despite the efforts to reduce female informal employment in major cities, this phenomenon still represents a challenge for the Colombian labour market. Between 2007 and 2021, the share of women employed in the informal economy was always higher than that of men. As data from the Large Integrated Household Survey (Gran Encuesta Integrada de Hogares, GEIH) shows, from March through May 2022, 44.7% of all women and men who made up the labour force in the country’s 23 main cities and metropolitan areas were employed as informal workers (DANE, 2022[39]). Regional differences also exist, with the share of informal workers higher in Sincelejo (66.1%) and Cúcuta A.M. (65.2%) and lower in the capital district of Bogotá (34.3%) in the same trimester.

Finally, as of 2020, women also owned fewer micro-businesses than men (36.3%), 27.5 p.p. less than their male peers (63.7%) (DANE, 2021[40]).

As elsewhere in the world, women are responsible for a large share of domestic and care activities in Colombia. This means that they cannot contribute as much to the economy as men, given the restrictions on their time that prevent them from pursuing education or working (ONU Mujeres, DANE and Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2020[22]).

Colombian women spend 22 more hours per week than men on unpaid care and housework, significantly more than the OECD average of 15 hours (OECD, 2023, forthcoming[5]). This still the case even though Colombia was the first country in the world to formally acknowledge the economic contribution of unpaid care (OECD, 2017[41]). The historical invisibility of unpaid domestic and care work is closely linked to the fact that it has long been considered a natural extension of the role of women in society, shaped by social norms, gender beliefs (Ferrant, 2014[42]), customary practices, and traditional attitudes and stereotypes (OECD, 2020[43]). Recognising this problem, Colombia has made progress in recent years in measuring unpaid domestic and care tasks, both in terms of pay and of time spent, through the Care Economy Satellite Account (Cuenta Satélite de Economía del Cuidado), which the DANE has prepared since 2012.

When it was last measured, in 2017, unpaid domestic and care work made an important contribution to the economy. Estimates suggest that such activities exceeded COP 332.5 billion (~USD 112.7 billion) in 2017, a 20.6% share of the economy’s total production that year. This was double the production of the construction sector and exceeded that of the public administration, defence, education and health sectors, as well as the production of wholesale and retail trade that year.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, from September 2020 to August 2021, the participation of men and women in housework increased, thanks to lockdown measures and restrictions on mobility that forced many people to spend most of their time at home. According to the 2021 National Survey of Time Use (Encuesta Nacional de Uso del Tiempo) produced by the DANE, 90.4% of women participated in unpaid activities of this type, as compared with only 63.4% of men. The time women dedicated to unpaid activities during this period increased by almost one hour more than between September 2016 and August 2017. Additionally, women spent 4 hours and 40 minutes more on unpaid care each day than men. Meanwhile, men spent 1 hour 20 minutes more than women on paid work. In this respect, the participation of women was lower than that of men, and also lower than in the same period between 2016 and 2017, which exacerbated problems of economic dependence and reduction of income. While 35% of women participated in paid work, the percentage of men engaging in these activities was 53.3% (Figure 2.4).

Gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls is an urgent global issue. Worldwide, nearly one-third of women have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, or both, in their lifetime (WHO, 2021[45]). This problem is widespread in all regions of the world, including the most economically developed.

In recent years, Colombia has passed a series of laws to address gender-based violence. However, many women still experience violence in their everyday life at home. In 2021, 210 femicides were reported in the country (ECLAC, Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2021[46]). According to the Colombian Institute of Forensic Medicine, 23 798 cases of sexual violence were reported in 2017, 85% of them against women (an increase of 11.2% over 2016). In three-quarters of these cases, the aggressor lived in the same household as the victim (OECD, 2020[26]). According to the data available, cases of gender-based violence are much higher in urban areas, representing 92.5% of the total in 2021 (Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses, 2020[47]).

Gender-based violence in Colombia is highly influenced by stereotypes, discrimination and socioeconomic conditions (OECD, 2020[26]), and can take various forms, affecting women in the family (domestic violence and marital rape), in the community (sexual violence, trafficking and femicide) and with respect to their reproductive rights. As in other countries in the region, machismo – defined as a form of hyper-masculinity, which valorises dominance and violence (Nuñez et al., 2016[48]) – plays a key role in shaping masculine and feminine norms and behaviours (OECD, 2020[43]).

Colombia’s 60-year internal armed conflict worsened the situation in the country, with violence against women used by the state and illegal armed groups as a “strategy of war”. The armed conflict normalised the use of violence in many layers of society (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2020[49]) and significantly affected the safety of women and girls. However, official figures on the extent of sexual violence against women during Colombia’s armed conflict are still lacking. Entities such as the Attorney General’s Office have an important role to play, especially in investigating this issue as a systematic practice during the armed conflict (Defensoría del Pueblo, 2019[50]).

The available data shows that Indigenous and Afro-Colombian women were disproportionately victims of sexual violence and internal displacement during the armed conflict, also accounting for the majority (65.5%) of murders of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian citizens (UN Women, 2018[51]). In addition, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian women are reported to experience multiple forms of discrimination (Salamanca, 2017[52]), although the Final Peace Agreement includes gender-responsive provisions for Indigenous women in the peace process.

Monetary policy in Colombia mainly focuses on controlling inflation and achieving the maximum level of sustainable growth and employment (Banco de la República, 2022[53]). However, it is not gender-neutral in its transmission, with differential impacts on women and men (UN Women, 2015). Both expansionary and contractionary monetary policy can have an impact on gender equality in the following ways:

  • Women have lesser access to credit and finance, with more pronounced gaps among rural women. According to the Colombian Women’s Observatory, only 4.9% of women applicants obtained a loan to start a business in 2017, 4.2 p.p. below men (9.1%). The situation is less favorable in the rural sector, with only 9.1% of loans granted to women by the Agricultural Sector Financing Fund (Finagro) in the rural agricultural sector between 2011 and 2020.

    Credit institutions tend to view women, especially micro-entrepreneurs, as less credit-worthy for loans, a perceived risk reflected in higher interest rates. In a context of contractionary monetary policy, with market interest rates increasing, women are likely to have fewer incentives and to face greater barriers than men in accessing credit (Figure 2.5) (Banco de la República, 2021[54]).

  • Gender gaps in the labour market are high. As noted previously, the participation rate of women in the labour force is lower than that of men, with less than half of women of working age being employed between 2001 and 2020. Additionally, women have a higher unemployment rate than men, and these gaps became even more pronounced in the pandemic. In 2020, the unemployment rate for women was 20.4%, 7.7 p.p. higher than for men (12.7%).

    Contractionary monetary policy typically leads to loss of employment, and, given existing inequalities, greater negative effects on women than on men. However, it is worth noting that, even if employment is promoted as a result of an expansionary monetary policy, it does not factor in higher participation of women in the labour market to facilitate access to these new jobs (Figure 2.5).

  • Higher levels of inflation translate directly into a reduction of purchasing power. An increase in inflation is defined as a substantial increase in prices, which directly impact household spending, especially the spending of the most vulnerable. The percentage of people living below the poverty line fell after 2008 to about 26% in 2018, but this trend was reversed in 2019. This was further exacerbated by the pandemic: in 2020, the percentage of people living below the poverty line had increased from 35.7% in 2019 to 42.5%. Women were among the demographic groups facing the highest levels of poverty, with 43.4% below the poverty line in 2020. This suggests that an increase in inflation, which normally follows expansionary monetary policy, has serious negative effects on women, to the extent that the percentage of poor women in the country is high (Figure 2.5).

Tax policy measures can influence gender outcomes by affecting, for example, women’s participation in the labour market, their investment choices, as well as their incomes, wealth and consumption patterns (OECD, 2022[56]). Gender bias in tax systems can be explicit or implicit, depending on whether tax systems clearly use gender as a criterion to differentiate tax treatments, or produce different effects on men and women by interacting with societal and economic gender differences (Stotsky, 1996[57]). For example, explicit gender bias and discrimination occur when tax structures differentiate explicitly between men and women, as mandated in specific provisions of the law or regulations. On the other hand, implicit gender bias arises when gender-neutral tax systems that treat women and men equally interact with gender differences in behaviour and economic characteristics, such as paid employment, involvement in the unpaid care economy, asset ownership and consumption expenditure (Barnett and Grown, 2004[58]). In these cases, it is particularly important to assess the impact of specific tax laws on men and women, scrutinising their ostensible gender neutrality and understanding how they affect different groups of the population.

For instance, personal income tax and its design features can create disincentives to participating in the labour force for second earners, often women, rather than for primary earners or single individuals. The progressivity of the revenue taxation can reduce the tax burden on categories with lower wages, with positive effects for women, who tend to be paid less than men. Finally, tax administration processes can also have different impacts on men and women, by favouring access for either gender or being used more in practice by women or by men. Similarly, compliance aspects can have positive or negative effects on women, depending on the programmes they target or whether they differ based on an individual’s gender (OECD, 2022[56]). In light of these considerations, the OECD recognises that integrating gender perspectives in the design of tax policy, by preventing adverse effects on the distribution of income and wealth, can significantly help increase inclusive growth (OECD, 2017[59]).

Evidence highlights the need for gender-disaggregated data to promote use of a gender lens in taxation in Colombia (Ávila-Mahecha, 2019[60]). Going forward, improving the availability and quality of gender-disaggregated data is vital for including the impact of taxes on gender equality as a key dimension of Colombia’s tax policy.

Developing transport infrastructure can be a key factor in closing gender gaps, with significant macroeconomic impact. Transport infrastructure reduces the time spent by women on domestic tasks, increasing productivity and time spent on paid work (Government of United Kingdom, 2017[61]). Increased mobility options offer greater access to jobs that may be better paid (Lozano and Luque, 2020[62]). As noted in Chapter 5, commuting time is more of a consideration for women than for men in deciding to quit a job. Women who have an hour of commuting time are 29.1% more likely to leave their current job than if they have a 10-minute commute, as against 23.9% for men (OECD, 2021[63]).

Infrastructure development is one of the main generators of employment, and if it is developed with an equity lens, it can translate into new job opportunities for women (see Chapter 5). It also generates higher incomes for households, facilitating consumers’ access to goods and services, and potentially offering greater and more stable household income (Government of United Kingdom, 2017[61]).

The risk of exposure to violence on transport services and public spaces deters economic participation of women, costing the global economy USD 8 trillion annually (Government of United Kingdom, 2017[61]). Developing infrastructure that provides adequate safeguards from violence against women can also improve their economic opportunities. Since women account for half of the users of transport infrastructure, including them in planning and decision making in transport projects allows for the development of infrastructure that considers their perspective, and can lead to greater empowerment (Government of United Kingdom, 2017[61]).

In Colombia, only 6.4% of the workforce in the construction sector is female. Of the 27 Fourth Generation (4G) concessions, only 13.1% of employees at the construction stage are women (Lozano and Luque, 2020[62]). To encourage greater participation of women in the sector, Presidential Directive No. 11 included a gender approach for developing projects for the Fifth Generation of Concessions. This stipulated a minimum percentage of female personnel, in stages: 10% in pre-construction and construction, 30% in operation and maintenance and 30% in management teams throughout the project2 (ANI, 2021[64]). If successfully achieved, the 5G infrastructure will set a new benchmark for gender-sensitive infrastructure in Colombia. To realise such potential benefits, the new administration has the opportunity to align long-term infrastructure plans with gender mainstreaming policies, a challenge prevailing in 71% of OECD countries.

As indicated in the previous Sections, gender equality is a key enabler of inclusive growth and national well-being. Colombia has made considerable efforts to address gender inequalities. However, relevant gaps still persist in key policy areas, such as education, in the labour market, in the care economy, as well as in relation to the prevalence of gender norms and gender-based violence. As seen across the OECD, the COVID-19 pandemic in Colombia has thrown into relief these long-standing inequalities, with women disproportionately affected by the economic and social fallout from the crisis. The differentiated impact of the crisis on certain groups of the population has indicated the importance of a holistic, intersectional approach to understanding diversity between individuals (OECD, 2021[7]). The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis offers a crucial window of opportunity for addressing persistent gaps in Colombia, by strengthening the policy and institutional framework and government capacity and introducing gender mainstreaming and gender-sensitive policy and decision making.

If gender equality awareness is built into all government institutions, policies and policy processes, more equitable outcomes can be achieved, contributing to good governance (OECD, 2018[65]). A strategy of gender mainstreaming, applying a gender equality lens to all government action, can help governments make more inclusive decisions and improve the fairness and responsiveness of policy delivery. This can also increase public trust (OECD, 2017[66]), reinforcing democracies and encouraging inclusive growth.

In 2019, the OECD identified a need in Colombia to improve co-ordination between national and subnational governments on strategic planning, through policy dialogue and exchange (OECD, 2019[67]). The OECD Report “Gender Equality in Colombia: Access to Justice and Politics at the Local Level” recommended adopting gender-inclusive policies in national and local governments, by gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting and enhanced co-ordination of resources (OECD, 2020[26]).

Building directly on these recommendations and on OECD standards, including those proposed in the 2015 OECD Gender Recommendation in Public Life (OECD, 2016[68]), this Review aims to support the national government’s efforts to promote gender equality, and to help it co-ordinate both horizontally and with the departmental governments and municipalities on gender equality policy. By assessing strengths, challenges and opportunities, the Review proposes ways to strengthen institutional frameworks and increase government capacities to improve gender equality in Colombia at all levels and to promote gender-sensitive policy and decision making. Providing a way forward with strategic, action-oriented policy recommendations, it can help align policy objectives across national, departmental and municipal levels with national development policy, and to achieve gender equality. Finally, reflecting on the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women and girls and assessing the institutional capacities for responding to crises in a gender-sensitive manner, the Review also promotes a recovery from COVID-19 that enables economic and social empowerment of women of diverse backgrounds. It is organised as follows:

  • Chapter 3: An assessment of Colombia’s approach to strategic planning for its gender equality policy and the alignment of the objectives set out in the national policy on gender equality and the National Development Plan (NDP).

  • Chapter 4: An overview of the whole-of-government framework for gender equality and mainstreaming in the government, analysing the roles, responsibilities, capacities, and capabilities of governmental stakeholders. The Chapter also assesses the effectiveness of existing mechanisms for horizontal and vertical co-ordination to promote the gender equality agenda.

  • Chapter 5: An analysis of the strategic use of government tools and processes, such as gender impact assessments (including infrastructure policy), budgeting and public procurement, to promote the government’s gender equality agenda. The Chapter also discusses challenges and opportunities in collecting gender-sensitive data and evidence for gender equality purposes.

  • Chapter 6: An assessment of the current legislative and strategic frameworks related to disaster risk management and gender equality, highlighting challenges, as well as enablers and opportunities to further apply a gender lens to disaster risk management.


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[64] ANI (2021), Equidad de Género: Quinta Generación de Concesiones.

[60] Ávila-Mahecha, J. (2019), “Brechas de género en el patrimonio, ingresos y renta en Colombia: su identificación a través de las declaraciones del impuesto de renta personal”, La Manzana de la Discordia, Vol. 14/1, pp. 75-90, https://doi.org/10.25100/lamanzanadeladiscordia.v14i1.8063.

[53] Banco de la República (2022), Página web del Banco de la República de Colombia, https://www.banrep.gov.co/es/politica-monetaria#:~:text=La%20pol%C3%ADtica%20monetaria%20en%20Colombia,del%20producto%20y%20del%20empleo.&text=Para%20lograr%20sus%20objetivos%2C%20el,de%20tipo%20de%20cambio%20flexible.

[54] Banco de la República (2021), Inclusión Financiera - Informe especial de Estabilidad Financiera - Primer semestre 2021, Banco de la República, Bogotá D.C., Colombia, https://www.banrep.gov.co/es/inclusion-financiera-informe-especial-estabilidad-financiera-primer-semestre-2021.

[58] Barnett, K. and C. Grown (2004), Gender Impacts of Government Revenue Collection: The Case of Taxation, https://gsdrc.org/document-library/gender-impacts-of-government-revenue-collection-the-case-of-taxation/.

[17] Bertay, A. (2020), Gender Inequality and Economic Growth: Evidence from Industry-Level Data, IMF, https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2020/07/03/Gender-Inequality-and-Economic-Growth-Evidence-from-Industry-Level-Data-49478.

[32] Brussino, O. and J. McBrien (2022), “Gender stereotypes in education: Policies and practices to address gender stereotyping across OECD education systems”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 271, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/a46ae056-en.

[55] Central Bank of Colombia (2022), , https://www.banrep.gov.co/es (accessed on  2022).

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← 1. CONPES documents are so-called because they are approved by the National Council on Economic and Social Policy, the Executive Branch’s Cabinet Committee on economic and social policy, on which all ministries have a seat.

← 2. In the pre-construction, construction, operation and maintenance stages, technical operation assistants, machinery operators, teachers, supervisors and general workers, among others, are included. The management team is made up of persons in the concessionaire with administrative functions and decision-making capacity, such as the legal representative, the members of the Board of Directors and senior executives, among others.

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