By Sarah Lander
Ecuador’s vast and diverse population consists of 14.5 million people, and gender representation is relatively even, where women make up 50.4% of the total population and men constitute 49.6% in 2020. With the populational representation of men and women being almost even, it is imperative to take a closer look into the roles and status of both men and women respectively throughout the country. With colonialism came traditional gender roles, leaving the patriarchal family model as the standard all over the country. In 2008, Ecuador’s new constitution was put in place, allowing for a major shift towards gender equality in the country. This constitution, among other policies, sets out to protect the lives of all genders in Ecuador in many aspects of society in relation to reproductive rights, sexual orientation, gender identity and more.
Male identifying Ecuadorian’s and female identifying Ecuadorian’s typically fulfill different roles in the workforce and in society at large. Traditionally in Ecuador, males are typically found occupying jobs and roles that are more hands on and take place out of the home, where women are typically found fulfilling roles with more familial foundations. However, this is not always the case and there have been notable shifts towards gender equality in the workforce and in the home in recent past. Statistically speaking, between 1990 and 2020, women’s participation in the labour force has risen significantly to around 45% from roughly 36%. This is a vast contrast to the percentage of men in the work force, which has consistently sat at around 80% between 1990 and present. It is important to note that these numbers are defined by those participating in the formal work sector who are over the age of fifteen. Although these numbers are improving, the gender gap and wage gap within Ecuador’s workforce still exists.
In 1929, women in Ecuador were granted the right to vote, making it one of the first country’s in its region to allow women to engage in political participation. Ecuador ranks higher than its regional counterparts with regard to gender equality in political positions, however mostly at the national level. At the local level, the number of political positions held by women in comparison to men is incredibly low. It is important to note that indigenous women in Ecuador face significant challenges, especially when it comes to political participation. These challenges stem many factors, some of those being rural livelihoods, ongoing patriarchal gender roles, and a general lack of inclusion in legislation and conversation surrounding equal gender rights.
With colonialism, traditional gender roles and norms were introduced to the common Ecuadorian household and became the norm. The 2008 constitution attempts to reverse some of these deeply embedded societal structures with its legislation surrounding the protection of gender identity. Furthermore, an aspect of the constitution that holds significant weight is “La familia diversa” which translates to “the family in its diverse forms”. La familia diversa challenges the gender and familial norms that were implemented by colonialism and shifts the overall gender dynamic in the country. Where women and men were often forced into their heteronormative roles (men in the workforce, women fulfilling more ‘traditional’ roles, heteronormative relationships), the 2008 constitution is a progressive shift towards gender equality within the home, allowing for a more diverse vision of what constitutes a family moving forward.
Davila, Sheyla Ibarra. “Gender Inequality in Ecuador”. 2016. http://www.mannaproject.org/ecuadorblog/gender-inequality
“Ecuador Country Profile: Americas and the Caribbean” UN Women. https://lac.unwomen.org/en/donde-estamos/ecuador#:~:text=Ecuador%20is%20a%20country%20characterized,them%20women%20and%2049.6%25%20men.
“Ecuador- Labour Force, Female”. Trading Economics. 2020.
“Ecuador: Labour Force Participation Rate” International Labour Organization Database. 2019. https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/ecuador/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.MA.ZS
“Helping Advance Women’s Political Rights in Ecuador” 2020. UNDPPA. http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/03/helping-advance-womens-political-rights-ecuador/
Keating, Christine; Lind, Amy. “Plural Sovereignty and la Familia Diversa in Ecuador's 2008 Constitution”. 2017. Feminist Studies Vol 43 No 2. Pacari, Nina. “The Political Participation of Indigenous Women in the Ecuadorian Congress: Unfinished Business”. 2002. International IDEA.
Poor, Hannah. “The Historical and Contemporary Role of Women in Ecuadorian Society”. Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Brown University. https://library.brown.edu/create/modernlatinamerica/chapters/chapter-15-culture-and-society/essays-on-culture-and-society/the-historical-and-contemporary-role-of-women-in-ecuadorian-society/
This page is happy to have many authors! From some of the Two Rivers' staff to our lovely volunteer interns. WE hope we can see Ecuador in as many perspectives as there are trees in the Amazon.