Earlier this month, the Central Bank of Paraguay (BCP) underwent a drastic reshuffle of its most senior management. On October 11, governor Carlos Valdovinos vacated his office to make way for 12-year-old Alejandra Belén.
This year, October 11 marked the International Day of the Girl, and saw 60 Paraguayan girls take over leadership positions in different governmental and private institutions for a day.
“We hope to empower young women and girls across the country to be a source of influence, leadership and creativity,” Valdovinos says.
Speaking to Central Banking, the governor explains women played an important role in Paraguay’s history and would continue to do so.
“During the War of the Triple Alliance, around 60% of the population and 90% of the male population died, and women had the important task to rebuild a devastated nation,” he says.
During her ‘term’, Belén met with the central bank’s general manager and presided over a board meeting. She also toured the bank’s main building, and visited its museum and cultural centre.
Belén was also given the responsibility of issuing the central bank’s statement on the International Day of the Girl, which she delivered with central bank director José Cantero.
It is very important and necessary that public institutions care about us. I am grateful for the opportunityAlejandra Belén
“We thank BCP for joining this experience,” she said. “It is very important and necessary that public institutions care about us. I am grateful for the opportunity.”
In terms of gender equality, 35% of senior positions at Paraguay’s central bank are occupied by women, but Belén is the first female to serve as governor.
“Alejandra participated in different exams promoted by the initiative,” says Valdovinos of the selection process. “Girls from all around the country were exposed to different evaluations. As a result, the best scores were selected.”
The central bank deemed the initiative a success and has pledged to take part in future years.
“The main objective is to transform power relations so that girls around the world can learn, lead, decide and succeed,” Valdovinos says.
As well as promoting gender equality, the initiative also addresses the issue of financial inclusion through raising awareness among the younger generation.
The central bank, in conjunction with the ministry of finance and other governmental organisations, is currently in the process of implementing the National Strategy for 2014–18.
“Our institution leads the dimension that aims to foster financial education in order to improve financial capacity and rational decision-making in all segments – men and women, young and adult, those living in the countryside and vulnerable populations,” Valdovinos says.
In line with this objective, the central bank has organised BCP Educa; a series of conferences for young people and teachers, aimed at raising awareness on financial literacy and financial services.
In addition, the central bank has been chosen to host the Regional Child and Youth Finance Conference this year.
The conference, Valdovinos says, will help young people “enhance their awareness of economic rights, and empower them to build their assets, invest in their future and ultimately break the cycle of poverty”.