Central America has been one of the hardest hit regions during the Covid-19 pandemic. The social and economic circumstances of the public health crisis have amplified the uncertainty for women in Panama where almost 300,000 employment contracts were suspended, of which 43% were for women, and the majority included women of color and minority groups (Mitradel, 2021).This adds to the general context of the LATAM region where it is estimated that close to 12 million women have lost their jobs (OIT, 2021).
During the pandemic crisis we documented that 90% (300 active alumni women) of our self-improvement program (CAPTA) had suffered an increase in their internal and external situations of social vulnerability. These were causally linked to substantial job losses, halting of in-person education for their children and an increase in mental and physical violence; due to long lockdown periods compounded by unhealthy living conditions. Added that, the women we train are part of the informal economy, suffer mental and physical violence, have almost no formal education and sustain their homes as heads of family with an average of 2 to 5 children. Even though these women currently face great challenges such as the impossibility of reconciling employment and work at home and insufficient support for care activities, they are seeking ways to overcome these challenges and formalize their projects.
In order to address these underlying disparities compounded by the pandemic we seek to increment the access to non-formal education for vulnerable women of Panama. Through the initial virtual adaptation of the program we have been able to train over 142 women in 10 months, from which 80% have elevated or sustained their self-steem levels as 97% have been positively assessed in advancing the development of their entrepreneurial capabilities. In order to rebuild education and employment pathways for our beneficiaries, we aim to continue to strengthen our psycho-emotional and vocational program through a virtual training platform focused on integrating entrepreneurship and digital training. Our goal is to build a robust learning virtual platform centered on the beneficiaries to grant access to 300 at-risk women in the same amount of months.
The challenge Fundacion Calicanto currently faces is being able to meet the demand of the program which has increased by 30% since the end of 2020 as more women are drawn to the program and seeking to improve their abilities, economic resilience and, financial stability towards asset building.
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