Last year, my perception of economic empowerment changed completely. I had the amazing opportunity of being a museum docent at Querétaro's Museum of Art (MaQro), the only one in my city that provides tours and art lessons for children who have disabilities and live in marginalized communities.
While narrating the stories of female Mexican painters, such as María Izquierdo, Remedios Varo, and Frida Kahlo to girls and women, their questions showed that they were not only learning about the construction of Mexican identity through art - but also about the endless possibilities they could aim for and the increasingly powerful role of women in Mexico's society since the 1950s.
However, reality strikes hard when you look closely at Female Labor Force Participation in Mexico. In 2000, the percentage of women with a formal employment was 33.6%; last year it was recorded at 36.6%. It has taken 16 years to move 3%. According to the OECD, this lack of engagement in the labor force is due to factors such as the prevalent traditional gender roles, incredibly high levels of unpaid work at home and the lack of policies to make women's employment easier.
As a member of the G20, Mexico has set the goal of reducing the gender gap in labor activities by 25% by 2025. To reach this goal, the Mexican government must double their efforts to expect a significant change. I believe that success will come when they adopt more creative approaches towards workforce equality.
The world is moving fast and we need to act faster by engaging women with long-term solutions. Merging my academic focus on education and economics with my passion for arts, I will use the G(irls)20 opportunity to contribute to my community by inspiring girls through three "I's" to achieve economic empowerment:
Imagination. We need to remember what empowerment is: "the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights", and we have to make empowerment fun again!
A great way of doing so is through art, since it helps to increase creativity and critical thinking, also to be confident, inventive, perseverant, focused, and communicative. By engaging in arts, women would be more proactive, competitive and aware of their rights and potential - thus gaining control of their lives.
Inclusion. The economy should not discriminate. Everyone can contribute economically regardless of disabilities, physical features, race, social and civil status. In Mexico, 10% of the population has a disability, and within this, 70% are unable to find employment. By embracing diversity in the labor market, we can eradicate stigmas that prevent our economic development.
Innovation. Mexico needs more public investment and innovation in educational processes in order to boost female entrepreneurship (only 2% of working women in Mexico are entrepreneurs). This will lead to a reduction of the existing gender gap, higher wages, more opportunities and overall growth.
As the Mexican delegate at the 2017 G(irls)20 Summit, I'm honored to echo the voice of millions of Mexican women in this experience and strive to accomplish the G(irls)20's mission. If women work, they become more empowered and our economy grows.
By Mariana Vieyra Caballero, G(irls)20 Delegate, Mexico
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