Our Perspective

      • Indigenous peoples’ political inclusion enriches democracy in Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        23 May 2013

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        "Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions." - Article 5 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (UN Photo)

        One of the most significant roles of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is to help boost indigenous peoples’ political participation. It is crucial to ensure that all people participate in political life and are active decision-makers—especially indigenous peoples. This is essential to overcome historical inequalities and discrimination. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are approximately 50 million indigenous peoples, about 10 percent of the total population. In Peru and Guatemala indigenous peoples account for almost half of the population, while in Bolivia they are more than 60 percent. Even though in Mexico indigenous peoples cover only 10 percent of the total population, Mexico and Peru contain the region’s largest indigenous population: about 11 million people. Mexico, for example, is advancing the ‘coexistence’ of indigenous peoples’ legal systems with the national legal system. It is not an easy process. The indigenous peoples’ representation at local and national levels, including dispute resolution methods, can differ widely and also spark tensions. However, indigenous peoples have shown that they are aware of how modern democracies work, as well as the limitations imposed to their political participation. For this reason, indigenous peoples have been adapting their traditional knowledge systems and their institutionsRead More

      • Stopping violence against women | Marta Vieira da Silva

        29 Apr 2013

        Life isn’t easy for women – anywhere in the world.   I grew up in Dois Riachos – a poor, remote town in the north-east of Brazil. Our family didn’t have much money; my mother worked hard to raise me and my two brothers and sister by herself. We couldn’t even afford a football – if we had bought one, we would have gone without food.   At the age of 7, I knew I wanted to play football for the rest of my life. But being a girl, the path wasn’t straightforward. Everyone from my brothers to the other boys on the field tried to stop me from playing. I was lucky enough to have the support of visionary people who helped me fulfill my dream of being a professional footballer.   So many women don’t have the opportunities I did.   Every year, 2 million women and girls are trafficked into prostitution, forced slavery and servitude.   Up to 60 percent of women experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their life – and as many as half of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 18.   This kind of violence is happening on all cornersRead More

      • MDGs 2015: Latin America needs equality and environmental sustainability | Heraldo Muñoz

        05 Apr 2013

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        Children in Uruguay, where a maternal and infant health programme has drastically improved health markers for children by providing the poorest populations with healthcare, nutritional training and food. (Photo: UNDP Uruguay)

        One thousand days from the 2015 target date, Latin America and the Caribbean is well on the way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Poverty has been reduced to the lowest levels in three decades. Child mortality has dropped and we are fighting diseases, with some countries spearheading innovation in universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. The commitments made 13 years ago led the region to fine-tune some groundbreaking social policies which, along with rapid economic growth and job creation, helped lift millions from poverty while reducing inequalities. But Latin America and the Caribbean remains the most unequal region in the world—and the most violent. Moreover, too many women still die in childbirth and countries need to boost gender parity in employment and parliaments as well as access to education and reproductive health services. Sanitation must also be improved and more needs to be done to reverse forest loss. In addition, average MDG achievement for countries with historical inequalities is insufficient. In the Brazilian states of São Paulo and Piauí, or in the Mexican states of Nuevo León and Chiapas, MDG achievement rates are considerably different. To tackle such disparities, UNDP and other UN agencies have been partneringRead More