Women serve in 13 percent of leadership positions in Latin American Jewish institutions


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Women make up just 13 percent of leadership positions at Jewish institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the first regional study on gender equality conducted by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The representation of women is low on boards of directors of Jewish organizations all across Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is even lower in posts of top responsibility and influence in decision-making.

Women hold a little more than one-fifth of board positions, or 22.3 percent, and hold executive committee roles as president, vice president, executive director or dean at 13 percent of Jewish organizations, according to the survey from the JDC’s regional office based in Buenos Aires.

Results from the survey, which analyzed 202 communal organizations, were released Friday for International Women’s Day.

The Jewish community is starting to tackle the issue. An ongoing initiative to address women’s issues in the Jewish political umbrella organization of Argentina, DAIA, was announced Friday.

DAIA has promoted the issue of gender equality in recent years and has organized a meeting about women leaders annually for the last three years.  The most recent was held Friday, with 450 participants.

“We are working on a new ethics code in our organization which will introduce integrity and gender perspective issues,” Patricia Manusovich, pro-secretary of DAIA, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “From DAIA we are promoting diversity and inclusion.”

Women historically had more presence in institutions dealing with welfare and social development. The JDC study reveals that at institutions dedicated to welfare, education and religious/community activities, women hold one-fourth of the posts on boards of directors, while in sports and social organizations, or political entities, their participation is notably lower. The figures show that the organizations with the most women on executive committees are those dedicated to social welfare, with 41.7 percent, while women’s presence on these committees is very low in political (4.8 percent), cultural (9.5 percent) and religious (9.6 percent) organizations, and social-sports clubs (15 percent).

The survey, titled “Gender and Leadership in the Jewish Communities of Latin America and the Caribbean,” suggests measures such as fixed quotas for women’s participation with an aim to achieving parity, or 50 percent, or proportional participation depending on the gender makeup of the organization in question.

“We aim to promote actions for change and increase the presence of women on the boards of Jewish organizations and in the communities of the region” Sergio Widder, JDC director in Latin America and the Caribbean, told JTA.

Since 2017, Argentina almost as an exception has had a women at the head of a federation that has 55 institutions affiliated and a network of 50,000 members.

Gender equality and women’s leadership also is an issue in American Jewish organizations. A coalition recently offered  $1 million in grants to address women’s issues in Jewish institutions.

Recommended from JTA