‘Violet Economy’ (Economía Violeta) is an economic model proposal that aims at eliminating barriers of entry so that people can have access to opportunities in equal conditions, and hence reduce labor gaps between women and men. This model evinces the need to identify what are the most important elements to attain social welfare, so that the economy can better develop by taking into account men and women workers from the public, private and community sectors.
Paola Gutiérrez, UN Women Coordinator for Ecuador’s JP on social protection, explains that the definition and implementation of the Violet Economy model is new in Ecuador, and that it helps to identify differences among women and men, as well as gender inequality, not only in economics, but also in the political and social sectors.
The labor gap between men and women is still wide in Ecuador. Several factors, such as care-related activities, maternity leave and household work result in more men participating in the labor market (79%) than women (58%). According to official data from the September 2019 household survey report, 53% of women are currently unemployed, and from these, only 34% of them had a registered contract before being laid off.
As Gutiérrez explains, Violet Economy attempts to expose household work as a fundamental part of the economy and social welfare. Moreover, she argues that nowadays there are more women in care-related activities than men, not only in the household, but also in economic activities such as health services and education. “Women get lower salaries for the same work, and they even work more hours, which increases gender inequality,” she added.
Violet Economy also allows women to take charge on the decision of entering (or not) the labor market and how to do it under the same conditions as men. It also promotes democracy by generating active participation of women in political spaces. “Several studies argue that more gender equity means higher productivity and creates more life satisfaction,” said the expert.
This economic model proposal took off in Latin America from academic circles and political activism. The Violet Economy model forces to rethink the global economy and to find a balance between paid employment and public and private aspects, as suggested by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Gutierrez considers that Violet Economy could help to alleviate the effects of the pandemic by creating mechanisms that combine employment with care activities at home, therefore minimizing the conflicts between both responsibilities in the so-called new reality.
In the past few months, and through the Ecuadorian Social Affairs Cabinet, there have been several spaces to start a dialogue between the different government and social counterparts. UN Women has also been invited to participate in the technical meetings and provide expert advice. These spaces have served to analyze and discuss the need to implement Violet Economy as a public policy. The challenge is now to present this model to the productive sector and to demonstrate the benefits for the country through greater economic and labor equality.
The economic model also highlights the importance of recognizing the rights of people, such as the universal access to social protection, which aligns with the work being carried out by the UN in the Joint Programme through designing awareness mechanisms for young people on their right to social protection and decent work.
According to Gutiérrez, the access of young men and women to social protection implies major changes such as: the inclusion of the target population in the labor market; the creation of financial products and services that ease the access of young people in informality to the financial system; setting up care systems to foster parents’ participation and insertion the labor market, among others.
“With this project, we want to give them a voice so they can express their needs and aspirations,” she concluded.
The idea is to create spaces for young people to participate in the design of public policy.