Créditos Photography: Priscilla Mora Flores
Publicado en Agosto 29, 2020

A Joint Program for Equality

Accompaniment of Social Co-Managers accelerates the economic autonomy of women in Costa Rica.

From the coasts and mountains to export crops and tourism sites in Buenos Aires, Puntarenas, and Limón, Costa Rica's multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity looms, one where Costa Rican and migrant people converge, including Afro-descendants, indigenous and non-indigenous people. natives.


Now, a Joint Program is born that will provide tools to social co-managers for the basic protection of families and the economic autonomy of women in these three cantons.

When Gabriela Gamboa left her pharmacy studies to study social work, she knew that she had found a career that would not only bring food to her table: it would also give her the satisfaction of working to support women and their families out of poverty.

It was 2015. Gamboa was 23 when she started working at the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social (IMAS) as a co-manager. There, working for the Puente al Desarrollo program - a state initiative that addresses the solution of poverty in an integral way - she learned about the limitations that many families in Quepos and Fray Casiano de Chacarita, in Puntarenas, experience every day. native.

Like each of the IMAS co-managers, Gabriela identified and committed herself to her work in a community that has been hit by poverty and insecurity.

"You have to jump into the water," says the co-manager, who has a vocation to "work for the people."

Every day, and for several months, during 2016 and 2017, Gabriela entered Fray Casiano on his black motorcycle, and soon she began to be greeted, appreciated and sought after by the families who, through her visit, learned that there was an institutional opportunity to support them to overcome extreme poverty and address the persistent challenges of inequality in their communities.

“During my visits, I found heads of households who do not have a job, or who have a poorly paid one. Half of them sell food or clothes to live on. Others clean houses. That is their method of survival. A large part of them have as a surcharge the care of people with disabilities, older adults and minors. Thinking about studying is difficult for them, due to the excess of responsibilities to earn a living, while taking care of the people they are in charge of ”, says Gamboa.


Hopeful woman

costa rica
Photography: Priscilla Mora Flores

Manager, your task is to show the family support options offered by 18 state institutions in an articulated way. These institutions have protocols in place to serve the beneficiary population of the Bridge to Wellbeing component of the Bridge to Development Strategy. This articulation allows building a two-year plan for each family.

Gabriela reaches out to those who do not know about these benefits. House by House offers support in education, health, social security and options to strengthen employability or start their own businesses, to families who meet the requirements to access the programs. The co-manager's face lights up when she remembers the cases in which she has contributed to make a difference in people's lives: young women who manage to finish school, college and start a university career, older adults who show with pride your training certificate.

Gabriela shares testimonies from people who require articulated institutional responses to restore their basic human rights and access well-being. Behind Gabriela's work, institutional programs, support networks, work agreements, and financial resources are articulated, which give rise to the Bridge to Development Strategy, to combat poverty in the country.


A Joint Program is born

Photography: Priscilla Mora Flores

One of the initiatives to reduce the social and economic gaps that affect women is the Joint Program “Strengthening the Bridge to Development Strategy to break the cycle of poverty at the local level with a gender and environmental approach”, implemented since the beginning of the 2020.

The Program will establish three innovation laboratories, so that women beneficiaries of the Bridge to Development Strategy in the cantons of Buenos Aires, Puntarenas and Limón develop productive initiatives designed from an environmentally sustainable solutions approach that promote their economic autonomy with an intersectional gender perspective.

Through a multisectoral and multifactor approach, the Joint Program articulates the institutional efforts of the Bridge to Wellbeing, Bridge to Work and Bridge Agro components of the Bridge to Development Strategy in partnership with the United Nations in Costa Rica, through its Agencies: United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Labor Organization (ILO) and UN Women.

This Joint Program, financed by the Fund for the SDGs, gives muscle to the fight against poverty. According to Margarita Fernández, director of Fideimas, Puente al Desarrollo already brought together two central elements that were consistent with the objective of this cooperation: a gender approach in the selection of beneficiary families, and an approach of social protection programs to the target population.

The initiative will strengthen these two central elements, in addition to the capacities of the institutions linked to the Strategy to identify, develop and promote the employability, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship of women in the cantons of Puntarenas, Limón and Buenos Aires, aligned to the standards and national and international mandates on environmental sustainability.

“These women are brave, confident, with a desire to succeed, fighters, visionaries, they know what they want, they always seek the well-being of their family. Women don't give up. They do not expect anything to be given to them, they are capable of taking over the world, in order to carry out their business and their family,” said Fernández.


Challenges of Costa Rica

Juan Luis Bermúdez, Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion, considers that Costa Rica has made progress on issues of gender equality, but has challenges facing these women entrepreneurs.

“The first step is to put women at the center, not to put our institutions, projects and programs as the ultimate goal of State action. The second step is to listen to their voice: not to create more designs in which the voices of women and their needs are absent ”, said the Minister.

According to Bermúdez, Puente al Desarrollo manages to connect previous efforts and diverse institutions to provide a more effective response to the problem of poverty.

"Bridge to Development is the consolidation of the learning that the Costa Rican institutions, and their society, have had in addressing the multidimensional phenomenon of poverty."

Along the same lines, Francisco Delgado, Vice Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion, said that Costa Rica needs to advance in implementing mechanisms that reduce wage disparities in employment and social co-responsibility for care, such as paternity leave.

“It is important to recognize that care tasks are a shared responsibility, and that these tasks are not incidental, but are part of sustaining society and the market economy. The country must also fully guarantee the sexual and reproductive rights of women; as well as introducing the gender perspective in the programmatic offer of the social and labor institutions, which allow access to the social protection system ”.

“To achieve Sustainable Development in Costa Rica we need to prioritize action with women. This joint program is the best demonstration that we have the political will and national and local capacities to face the great challenge of generating quality employment, access to training, institutional services to achieve a better quality of life for the women of the country. The United Nations is committed to accompanying Costa Rica so that no woman is left behind,” said Allegra Baiocchi, UN Resident Coordinator in Costa Rica.

costa rica
Photography: Priscilla Mora Flores

If this is accomplished, co-managers like Gabriela Gamboa will reach communities with more tools to build a route that paints more light on their smiles and a lifestyle with greater equality and greater opportunities. Co-managers like Gabriela and the brave and entrepreneurial women, Costa Ricans and migrants, are already transforming Costa Rica so that no one is left behind.


Original article published in Spanish on UN Women Latin America and the Caribbean

History: Joint SDG Fund Costa Rica // Photography: Priscilla Mora Flores / UNDP Costa Rica // Writing: Rodolfo González Ulloa // General supervision: Sofía Salas Monge, Coordinator of the Joint Program // Ingrid Hernández Sánchez / UNDP