Slow progress for most women
PANAMA. In Panama, being a woman is not an obstacle to reaching high-level political positions. In the last 10 years, a woman has been...
PANAMA. In Panama, being a woman is not an obstacle to reaching high-level political positions. In the last 10 years, a woman has been President of the Republic, and two have headed the Supreme Court of Justice. Before that, in 1994, a woman led lawmakers at the National Assembly.
Today a woman is in charge of the Public Ministry, and 8 women are part of the President’s Cabinet. The crusading attorney general is a woman. There is one female presidential candidate for the upcoming elections, and hundreds are leaders in the different political parties in the country.
But a report by the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES in Spanish) says that gender inequalities still persist in our society.
Violence, employment status, and health are the areas where women’s progress is still limited.
Between 2000 and 2007, 221 women were murdered, 133 of them for the mere fact of being women, and 87 victimized by their partners.
In the labor force, things don’t seem to scream equality either. Women are three times more likely to obtain a university degree compared to men, yet the annual average salaries are twice as large for men than for women. In 2002, the average annual income for women was close to half ($1,675) that of men ($3,004), a gap that only increases when dealing with jobs in the informal sector.
According to the MIDES report, domestic violence affects the physical and mental health of women. In 2004, 78 percent of the reported cases (2,476) were against women.
Additionally, teenage pregnancy is another health problem that Panamanian women suffer, where according to the Health Ministry, in 2005 four percent of teenagers (ages 14 – 19) admitted having been pregnant sometime, with 69.4 percent admitting to have aborted the pregnancy despite it being illegal.