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Supporting leaders to enhance women's empowerment in Latin America

21 de Junio de 2016

Three years ago, Susana Martinez-Restrepo, a young Colombian researcher finishing her PhD studies, was invited to join and coordinate a regional project titled: Beyond Social Protection: Labour Markets, Entrepreneurship, and Gender Equality, implemented by Fedesarrollo and other three Think Tanks in the region. Supported by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) the project uses evidence to enhance the impact of social protection programs for the most vulnerable, and in particular, women. Adding to her impact evaluation proficiencies, Susana quickly gained expertise on gender issues, especially women’s economic empowerment, and now presents at international conferences addressing gender inequality such as IAFFE

Building on these experiences, Susana co-founded CoreWoman, an institution that supports women develop the necessary skills to reach their potential. CoreWoman empowers women through workshops so they can gain the soft skills and capabilities necessary to create a life or career plan, find a job, advance in their careers, and start or grow their entrepreneurships. The institution also pursues hands-on research that provides evidence and innovative practical recommendations and solutions to advance gender equality. In recognition of this work, Susana and CoreWoman were nominated to participate in the United State of Women Summit, which brought together thousands of people who are all working to change tomorrow for the #StateofWomen. Speakers included US President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey.

Susana explains that during her research, “Soft skills such as self-confidence, self-esteem, communication skills, and resilience among others [were hard to measure]. After this field work I also started wondering what real direct impact I was having as a researcher on these women. I felt I was taking key information about women’s lives and barriers to write papers where these women’s stories were just a footnote. One year ago, I co-founded CoreWoman with two wonderful women that have experienced firsthand gender biases, one in the corporate world and the other while growing her own entrepreneurial activities”.


Susana Martinez-Restrepo, Researcher at Fedesarrollo, and CoreWomen Managing Partner and Director of Research and Development

Susana holds a Ph.D. in Economics of Education from Columbia University in the city of New York. Her expertise includes education and labor market policies, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. She has extensive experience working and consulting for governments, foundations, and international organizations. Susana’s engagement with IDRC includes her role as project coordinator of the “Beyond Social Protection” initiative and leading studies on social protection and financial inclusion in Colombia. She also directs the regional project “Building tools to measure the use of ICTs in the classroom”.

About Employment and Growth

This project was supported by IDRC's Employment and Growth program, which seeks to enhance the employment and economic opportunities of vulnerable groups, particularly women and youth. For more information, please visit our home page.

Related Employment and Growth projects include GrOW (Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women) and our Colombia projects. 

For more information on IDRC's programs, please visit our program's page.