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Working to #BreakTheBias in Costa Rica

On International Women’s Day, Genesis shares how the team at Raleigh Costa Rica are working to promote and celebrate women’s equality.

It’s interesting to note that out of the 15,000 new jobs created in 2020 in Costa Rica, an impressive 49% were held by women.

This may not surprise you, after all, Costa Rica is a progressive country in many ways – politically and economically stable; providing free and compulsory education; a high level of social wellbeing; and a strong focus on environmental protection. The country has also had multiple female vice presidents and its first female president governed from 2010 to 2014.

Yet, while Costa Rica scores highly among Latin American countries in the gender gap index (0.79 in 2021), women are still 21% less likely than men to have equal opportunities.

Here at Raleigh Costa Rica, we are committed to further improving that statistic by ensuring that we provide a truly inclusive working environment for both our staff and our volunteers (demonstrated by the photo of our current office-based staff).

During Expeditions, our volunteers take part in a wide range of projects, supporting rangers in national parks, trekking through remote villages, and working closely with rural, indigenous communities.

While being culturally sensitive of traditional behaviours and values, we will always promote female equality, education, and empowerment.  Here are three tangible actions that we want to encourage both in the office and out in our projects to promote a fair and equitable environment for women.

  1. Invite everybody to the conversation. We know that the underrepresentation of women in politics and public affairs has a significant impact on the quality of democracy in Costa Rica. We’re committed to providing more discussion spaces for men and women to ensure that everyone has a voice, to promote teamwork, increase the opportunity for ideas generation, and ensure we’re tackling problems collectively.
  2. Challenge myths and stereotypes. The obstacles that women face in teams and in the community are diverse but, according to the National Institute for Women of Costa Rica, they are usually related to the unequal distribution of tasks, traditional gender roles, and discrimination against women, both in public and private life.

We will continue to make progress as we challenge prejudices about women’s careers, remove barriers to female achievement, and encourage men to be allies, to support and champion women at work, in the community, and the home.

  1. Appreciate and celebrate difference. We believe that it’s important to build bonds, while being respectful of the differences between all people, regardless of age, religion, race, sexual orientation and, of course, gender.

Our organisation couldn’t exist without collaboration, inclusion, and diversity – it’s crucial for our development, the success of our expeditions, and for the experiences of all of our volunteers.

Multiple research projects have shown that teams, projects, and communities are more effective and cohesive when women are empowered in their professional and personal lives. Together, we can #BreakTheBias

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for all of us to commit to advancing gender equality and creating real inclusion. I would invite you to go one step further and make gender equality everybody’s business, not just on 8 March but every day.


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