Bolivia

Bolivia is ranked 20th out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 13th out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The 2011 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.663, placing it 108th place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.476. Bolivia's World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6862, placing it 62nd place (out of a total of 135 countries).

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The most recent information available indicates that the minimum legal age for marriage under the Civil Code is 14 years for women and 16 years for men. Note that in 2008 the government reported that reforms to the minimum age of marriage under the Family Code were underway.[1] In principle, early marriage between teenagers requires parental consent, but a judge can authorise the marriage even when the parents refuse to agree.[2] The 2008 Demographic and Health Survey found that 14.7 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 19 reported that they were married, in union, divorced, separated, or widowed.[3] This represents an increase over figures reported in a 2004 United Nations report citing data from 1998, which estimated that 12 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[4] Most of the increase involves young women who report being in a conjugal relationship, but not officially married.

Polygamy is reportedly not practiced in Bolivia.

Article 194 of the Political Constitution of the State grants equality between spouses in relation to parental authority and equal duties for the care of children.[5] In the event of divorce, the custody of children is based on the best interests of the child.[6]

The division of labour in the home is still marked by gender stereotypes. Women generally make decisions about household chores on their own, but it is estimated that, in one out of five cases, men make lone decisions about major household purchases.[7]

The Civil Code provides for equal inheritance rights for women and men; widows and daughters have equal rights to widowers and sons.. These rights apply for all types of property.[8]

[1] CEDAW (2008)  [2] Articles 44 and 53 of the Family Code; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Bolivia, Combined Second, Third and Fourth Periodic Reports of States Parties, p. 74. [3] Ministerio de Salud y Deportes (MSD), Programa Reforma de Salud (PRS), and Macro International (2009), Encuesta Nacional de Demografía y Salud ENDSA 2008, Table 6.1.1. [4] United Nations (2004), World Fertility Report 2003, p. 38. [5] CEDAW (1991)  p.47 [6] CEDAW (1991) p.49 [7] CEDAW 2006, p. 73, citing information from Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), Ministerio de Salud y Deportes (MSD), Programa Reforma de Salud (PRS), and Macro International (2004) Encuesta Nacional de Demografía y Salud ENDSA 2003, Table 3.10. [8] Civil Code, articles 1094-1105 

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

Violence against women remains a major problem in Bolivia. Despite a specific law prohibiting domestic violence[9], it is still common. A 2008 Demographic and Health Survey found that 24 percent of women reported experiencing violence at the hands of their husband/partner in the past year.[10] The survey further found that only 24 percent of sufferers of domestic violence requested any kind of assistance or help.[11] Over half of the women in Bolivia are believed to have suffered physical, psychological or sexual violence at the hands of their partners at some time in their lives.[12] Nine out of ten women are thought to have suffered from violence in general, compared to only one man in ten.[13] The number of domestic violence cases handled by the police Family Protection Brigade fell by two-thirds between 2006 and 2009 due to lack of financial and structural support, and many women lack knowledge about available judicial protections.[14] A 2007 study commissioned by the Supreme Court of Justice found that gender-based discrimination permeated 100% of cases involving sexual and domestic violence.[15] The vast majority of domestic and sexual violence complaints brought to prosecutors never make it to trial or are dismissed.[16] Rape is also a serious problem. Generally, it is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or 20 years for the rape of a child under the age of 14.[17] However the Penal Code allows a rapist to escape penalty if he marries his victim.[18] The law does not recognise spousal rape. According to UN Women in the 2011 Progress of the World’s Women Report, there is no law against sexual harassment in the workplace.

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practised in Bolivia.

Knowledge of contraceptives in Bolivia is approaching universal, with 96 percent of women reporting knowledge, compared to 93 percent in 2003.[19] Contraceptive usage is also high, with 91 percent of sexually active women reporting contraceptive use at some point in the past. More than 60 percent of married women in Bolivia report using contraception as a form of family planning. However, only 35 percent of them used a modern method of contraception.[20] Further, there are wide disparities in contraceptive usage, with education, wealth and urban living highly correlated with more frequent contraceptive use. Women in the highest education and wealth groups are nearly twice as likely to use a modern method of contraception.[21] Among women with no intention to use contraception (roughly half of those that were not currently using contraception at the time of the survey), more than two-thirds reported a reason related to infertility.[22] The DHS estimates that 20 percent of women in Bolivia have an unmet need for family planning services; this demand is two to three times as high among poorer, uneducated, and rural women than it is among urban women and women with higher income and education levels.[23] These figures suggest that Bolivian women’s fertility-related needs are more a function of poverty and access, and not social or familial prohibitions or taboos.

Abortion is permitted in Bolivia only for the following reasons: to save a woman’s life, to preserve a woman’s physical and mental health and in case of rape or incest.[24]

[9] Family and Domestic Violence Act No. 1674, enacted 15 December 1995, enforced by Supreme Decree 25087, enacted 6 July 1998; CEDAW 2006, p. 66. [10] DHS Bolivia 2009, Table 12.2.1. [11] DHS Bolivia 2009, Table 12.5.1. [12] Coordinadora de la Mujer et al., 2007, p. 22 [13] CEDAW 2006, p. 4, 10-11. [14] U.S. State Department (2010) 2008 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Bolivia; Coordinadora de la Mujer et al., 2007, p. 13. [15] Corte Suprema de Justicia y Tribunal Constitucional Bolivia (2007), Sesgo de género en la Administración de Justicia. Recogido en el Informe de la Relatoría de la Mujer de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sobre Acceso a la Justicia para las mujeres víctimas de violencia en las Américas, p. 9. [16] Coordinada de la Mujer et al., 2007, p. 14. [17] Law on Protection for Victims of Crimes against Sexual Freedom, No. 2033, enacted 29 October 1999; State Dept. 2010. [18] Article 317 of the Penal Code; CEDAW (2008) Concluding Comments on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Bolivia, p. 2. [19] DHS Bolivia 2009, Table 5.1, [20] DHS Bolivia 2009, Table 5.4. [21] DHS Bolivia 2009, Table 5.5. [22] DHS Bolivia 2009, Tables 5.12 and 5.13. [23] DHS Bolivia 2009, Table 7.3. [24] UN DESA (2011)

Son Bias: 

The 2010 female-to-male ratio for primary school enrolment is 1.01 and for secondary school enrolment it is 0.99.[25] 

According to a 2010 ILO study, the share of boys and girls in school and in employment differs little. However, girls tend to be more likely than boys to work in services and trade, and less likely to be in areas such as agriculture and manufacturing.[26]

The 2005 figures indicate that out of all children aged 7-14 years, 23.9 per cent of boys engage in economic activity versus 20.1 per cent of girls.[27]

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.98.[28] 

There is no evidence to suggest that Bolivia is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[25] World Economic Forum (2010) [26] ILO (2010), [27] Understanding Children’s Work Programme (2005) [28] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Bolivian legislation grants women the same ownership rights as men, but discriminatory practices remain.[29] Women continue to suffer discrimination in regard to access to land, largely because of cultural prejudice. The 1996 Land Reform Act states that land should be allocated, administered, owned and used according to the principles of equality.[30] A 2006 survey by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women found that, in 2004, 40 per cent of land was allocated to women, either individually or under joint ownership, as compared to only 9 per cent in 1990. A 2006 law attempts to increase the amount of land held by women in cases where they hold it jointly with their spouses or partners by writing their name first on the property title.[31]

Women in Bolivia have the same rights to access to property other than land as men, and can enter into contracts and administer assets on the same legal basis. This legislation has had a positive impact only in urban areas; however discrimination persists in rural regions, where traditional practices restrict land inheritance by women.[32]

Access to bank loans in Bolivia is often more difficult for women than for men, largely because women have limited financial resources. Lack of basic documents, such as birth certificates and identity cards make credit difficult to access. Micro-credit programmes targeted specifically at women make it possible for them to obtain some loans, but the sums involved are typically lower than those accessed by men from formal banking institutions.[33]

[29] Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) (2009), Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) + 15: Bolivia., p. 9. [30] Law on the National Institute of Land Reform, law No. 1715, enacted 18 October 1996;  CEDAW 2006, p. 16, 66. [31] CEPAL, 2009, p. 10. [32] CEDAW 2006, p. 64-66; State Dept., 2010. [33] Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (2006), Bolivia: Country Gender Profile, p. 28; CEDAW 2006, p. 31, 76.

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

The civil liberties of Bolivian women seem to be well respected; there are no reported restrictions on their access to public space.

The constitution guarantees freedom of expression, although the media face some limitations in practice, with a general hostile climate towards journalists that increased with political tensions. The law also provides for the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, although social protests can sometimes be violent.[34]

Bolivian women have historically struggled to achieve political participation at the same rates as other South American women, but these trends have recently reversed. Following his second inauguration in 2010, President Evo Morales named ten women to the 20-member Cabinet, including three indigenous women and appointed them to top posts such as Justice and Labour.[35]

Since the December 2009 national elections, women now hold 30 percent of seats in Bolivia’s bi-cameral Parliament, including nearly half of the seats and the president’s seat in National Congress’s upper house, the Senate.[36] Bolivia has a national law requiring every third candidate on a political party’s slate be female, a figure reached only once between 1997 and 2007.[37] Female politicians reported that political parties frequently adhered to the quota in submitting their candidate lists but subsequently pressured women to withdraw their candidacy prior to the election. Every second candidate on municipal election ballots must be a woman, a requirement that increased female representation to approximately 30 percent of municipal council positions.[38] Yet women elected at the municipal level suffer from higher rates of politically motivated physical and psychological harassment and violence.[39] Despite this institutional discrimination, 85 percent of Bolivians believe men and women to be equally good as political leaders.[40] As of 2009 there were 23 women among Congress's 157 deputies and senators.[41]

Bolivia has relatively strong maternity leave policies for women. Leave lasts for sixty days total for public and private workers, excepting domestic workers, who receive 90 days, and those employed in the agricultural sectors, who receive none. Women receive 95 percent of their earnings for the duration of their leave.[42] Benefits are funded by a social insurance program and any woman who has paid six months of contributions to the programme out of their wages is eligible. Bolivian law also prohibits pregnant women from dangerous work and prevents them from being dismissed from work for up to a year after the birth of their child.[43] A 2009 law, based partly on financing from the World Bank, offers pregnant women a small cash bonus for every pre- and postnatal doctor’s visit, as well as for regular medical check-ups for the children up to two years of age.[44]

[34] Freedom House (2010) [35] Schipani, A. (11 Feb. 2010), “Bolivian Women Spearhead Morales Revolution,” BBC News, accessed 19 Apr. 2010. [36] Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments; State Dept. 2010. [37] CEDAW 2006, p. 2; CEPAL 2009, p. 1; Coordinadora de le Mujer 2007, p. 18. [38] State Dept., 2010. [39] UDAPE 2008, p. 65. [40] Pew Research Center (2007), Global Attitudes Project: Spring 2007, Q.43 [41] Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries in National Parliaments. [42] Social Security Administration (SSA) (2010), Social Security Programs Throughout the World: The Americas, 2009, p. 58. [43] International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws. [44] CEPAL 2009, p. 4

 

Background: 

Bolivia is the highest and most isolated country in Latin America, and two-thirds of the population is made up by indigenous people. It is also one of the poorest countries in Latin America, despite having one of the largest reserves of natural gas.[45] Current president Evo Morales (serving since December 2005 and re-elected in December 2009) continues his promise to empower the nation’s poor, indigenous majority.[46] Bolivia is classed by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country.[47]

The new Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, adopted in February 2009, promotes equality of opportunity and guarantees equal rights for men and women[48], but in general many women are not aware of their rights and the boundaries of discrimination remains strong. Living conditions for Bolivian women are among the most difficult in Latin America. They are often the victims of violence and discrimination, tend to find employment in low wage sectors where uncertainty and exploitation are greatest, and cultural prejudice still limits their access to land.[49] Nevertheless, the overall situation of women appears to have improved in recent years.

Bolivia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1990, and the Optional Protocol on violence against women in 2000.[50]

[45] BBC News (2011) [46] CIA (2011) [47] World Bank (n.d.) [48] The Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, enacted 7 February 2009. [49] Coordinadora de la Mujer, Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Oficina Juridica de la Mujer, y Comité Latinoamericano y del Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CLADEM) (2007), Aportes y complementaciones al cuestionario presentado por el gobierno boliviano ante el Comité de la CEDAW, p. 19. [50] United Nations Treaty Collection (2010n.d)

Sources: 

BBC News (2011), Bolivia country profile, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1210487.stm, accessed 17 November 2011.

CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) (1991), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Bolivia, Initial Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/BOL/1, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Bolivia, Combined Second, Third and Fourth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/BOL/2-4, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEDAW (2008) Concluding Comments on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Bolivia, CEDAW/C/BOL/CO/4, CEDAW, New York, NY.

CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) (2009) Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) + 15: Bolivia, CEPAL: Santiago, Chile.

Central Intelligence Agency (2011) The World Factbook: Bolivia, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bl.html, accessed 1 December 2011.

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 29 February 2012

Coordinadora de la Mujer, Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Oficina Juridica de la Mujer, y Comité Latinoamericano y del Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CADEM) (2007), Aportes y complementaciones al cuestionario presentado por el gobierno boliviano ante el Comité de la CEDAW, Coordinadora de la Mujer, Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Oficina Juridica de la Mujer, y CLADEM: La Paz, Bolivia.

Corte Suprema de Justicia y Tribunal Constitucional Bolivia (2007), Sesgo de género en la Administración de Justicia. Recogido en el Informe de la Relatoría de la Mujer de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sobre Acceso a la Justicia para las mujeres víctimas de violencia en las Américas. 20 de enero de 2007. Corte Supreme de Justicia y Tribunal Constitucional Bolivia: La Paz, Bolivia.

Demographic and Health Survey (2009), Ministerio de Salud y Deportes (MSD), Programa Reforma de Salud (PRS), and Macro International (2009) Encuesta Nacional de Demografía y Salud ENDSA 2008. La Paz, Bolivia: MSD, PRS, INE and Macro International: La Paz, Bolivia and Calverton, Maryland.

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) (2005), Situación de la mujer rural: Bolivia, FAO, Rome, www.fao.org/Regional/LAmerica/mujer/docs/BOLIVIA/indice.htm.

ILO (2010), Trends in children’s employment and child labour in the Latin America and Caribbean region, Country report for Bolivia, available online, http://www.ucw-project.org/attachment/Bolivia_trends20110420_150241.pdf, accessed 6 December 2011.

Freedom House (2010) Freedom in the World Country Reports: Bolivia, online edition, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=363&year=2010&country=7785, accessed 6 December 2011.

ILO (International Labour Organization) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, ILO, Geneva, Switzerland, accessed 14 January 2010.

IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), Ministerio de Salud y Deportes (MSD), Programa Reforma de Salud (PRS), and Macro International (2004) Encuesta Nacional de Demografía y Salud ENDSA 2003. La Paz, Bolivia: INE, MSD, PRS and Macro International: La Paz, Bolivia and Calverton, Maryland.

JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) (2006), Bolivia: Country Gender Profile, JICA, Tokyo, www.jica.go.jp/activities/issues/gender/pdf/e06bol.pdf.

Pew Research Center (2007), Pew Global Attitudes Project: Spring 2007 Survey, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Washington, DC.

Schipani, A. (11 Feb. 2010), Bolivian Women Spearhead Morales Revolution, BBC News, available from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8498081.stm, accessed 19 Apr. 2010.

SSA (Social Security Administration) (2010), Social Security Programs Throughout the World: The Americas, 2009, SSA: Washington, DC.

UDAPE (Unidad de Análisis de Políticas Sociales y Económicas) and CIMDM (Comité Interinstitucional de las Metas de Desarrollo del Milenio) (2008), Quinte informe del progreso de los Objectivo de Desarrollo del Milenio en Bolivia, UDAPE: La Paz, Bolivia.

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2011), World Abortion Policies 2011, available online: http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2011abortion/2011abortionwallchart.html, accessed 1 December 2011.

Understanding Children’s Work Programme (2005), Inter-agency research cooperation initiative involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF and the World Bank, ECH, Encuesta Continua de Hogares, 2005, available online, http://www.ucw-project.org/pages/interactive-map.aspx, accessed 7 December 2011.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2006) World Population Prospects_2006, downloaded from http://www.devinfo.info/genderinfo/, accessed 1 December 2011.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011 Bolivia, online edition, available at http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/BOL.html, accessed 1 December 2011.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.

United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) (2010):  Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, countries ratified. 

- CEDAW:  http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8&chapter=4&lang=en, accessed 1 December 2011;

- Optional Protocol:  http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8-b&chapter=4&lang=en, accessed 1 December 2011.

UN (United Nations) (2004), World Fertility Report 2003, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY.

US Department of State (2010), 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Bolivia, US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Washington, DC.

World Bank (n.d.) Online data:Bolivia, available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/bolivia, accessed on 1 December 2011.

World Economic Forum (2010) ‘The Global Gender Gap Index 2011 rankings’, http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/rankings2010.pdf, accessed 1 December 2011.

World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 1 December 2011.

 

Data
Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
41
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
0.2559
Legal Age of Marriage: 
1
Early Marriage: 
0.147
Parental Authority: 
0
Inheritance: 
0
Data
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
45
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
0.2891
Violence Against Women (laws): 
0.666667
Female Genital Mutilation: 
0
Reproductive Integrity: 
0.202
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
0.161
Prevalance Of Domestic Violence: 
0.36
Data
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
45
Son Bias Value 2012: 
0.510322
Missing Women: 
0
Fertility Preferences: 
0.4924
Data
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
97
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
0.5071
Access To Land: 
0.5
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
0.5
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
0.5
Data
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
5
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
0.0344
Access To Public Space: 
0
Political Participation: 
0.301205
Political Quotas: 
0