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Ecuador's business women in the spotlight

Women’s roles in business are hardly ever discussed publicly in Ecuador, which made a recent event on private sector efforts to support women that much more remarkable. The May 17 conference in Quito, hosted by USAID’s Productive Network (managed by CARANA), GIZ, and the World Bank, drew more than 100 private sector representatives and received prominent media coverage (hear the advance podcast).

Participants at the May conference watch video of Roma Verde’s violence against women training program for Ecuador’s flower sectorParticipants at the May conference watch video of Roma Verde’s violence against women training program for Ecuador’s flower sector

Leaders of four industries—wood processing, flowers, Andean grain, and frozen vegetables—explained their initiatives to protect women and children from discrimination and violence (6 of 10 women in Ecuador are victims of domestic violence), and to offer leadership development opportunities to increase the number of female managers within large enterprises.

Roma Verde, which supplied roses for this year’s Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, was awarded for its commitment to women and society in general, including an anti-child labor policy, leadership training for female staff, and assistance to female employees who are victims of domestic violence. These initiatives have improved the company’s working atmosphere for women—and its bottom line: Roma Verde’s turnover rate for female employees has plummeted from 50% to 3% as a result.

The event closed with a welcome announcement: the launch of Ecuador’s first organization of female business leaders, which kicked off with 74 members. UN Women has committed its support to assist this group of women formalize the organization and develop its bylaws, membership criteria—and most importantly, a name. 

Published June 2012