Bolivia is doing relatively well in some areas of gender equality. According to the World Bank Development Indicators, during the last decade, the ratio of girls and boys enrolled in primary and secondary levels in public and private schools in Bolivia has been close to parity, reaching 99 girls for every 100 boys in 2012. Moreover, in terms of women’s representation in parliament, Bolivia stands out globally with 53% of its parliament composed by women, which is the second highest share in the World.
However, several gender-related issues persist in Bolivia. In terms of gender violence, despite its penalisation by the new 2009 Constitution and the 2013 Integral Law to Guarantee Women a Life Without Violence, there has been little improvement. According to the latest survey on Prevalence and Characteristics of Violence Against Women, released by the national statistical office in 2016, 44.4% of women surveyed in Bolivia had suffered from inter-partner violence during the 12 months prior to the survey. Bolivia also has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America.
Gender equality is a cross-cutting theme that should be embedded naturally in all development work. However, one problem which generates particularly profound and long-term disadvantages for women compared to men is teenage pregnancies, as these tend to interrupt, or severely delay, the education, career development, and income earning capacity of women. Almost half of all 20-year-old women in Bolivia already has at least one child to take care of, implying that they cannot focus on fully developing their own human potential.1