The autonomy of women is the result of having the capacity to freely make decisions that affect their lives under conditions of equality. Achieving autonomy requires, among other conditions, a life free from violence, the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, full participation in decision-making in various areas of public and political life, and access to income, property, and time, based on a culture without patriarchal patterns and discrimination.
To achieve gender equality and women's autonomy, it is necessary to overcome the structural challenges of inequality: I) Socioeconomic inequality and the persistence of poverty within the framework of exclusionary growth; II) Patriarchal, discriminatory, and violent cultural patterns and the predominance of a culture of privilege; III) Sexual division of labour and unfair social organization of care; and IV) Concentration of power and hierarchical relations in the public sphere. The Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean monitors the situation of women in the region through data and statistics that account for these structural challenges of gender inequality.
The Observatory addresses three dimensions of women's autonomy: economic autonomy, physical autonomy, and autonomy in decision-making. These three dimensions are interdependent and need to be approached with an intersectional, intercultural, life-cycle, and human rights-based perspective. Gender inequality phenomena need to be analyzed from an interrelational perspective in order to gain a qualitative understanding of the different mechanisms that intersect and generate or exacerbate inequality between men and women. Public policies in line with this perspective need to articulate policies regarding time, resources, benefits, and services at the national and local levels.
The interrelationships between autonomies account for the integrality of the necessary transformation processes to achieve substantive equality and the full participation of women, adolescents, and girls in their diversity, in order to transition towards sustainable development patterns and the sustainability of life that make the care society a reality.