Our Perspective

      • The nightmare of violence against women, seen up close | Neus Bernabeu

        28 May 2014

        Nothing is more powereful to raise awareness abour violence against women than experiencing this nightmare first-hand. We always think such things only happen to others, but current data shows that violence against women is horridly common, albeit in different forms and degrees of cruelty. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), one in every four women in the region experiences some form of violence from her partner. This is also the leading cause of death worldwide for women aged 15 to 49 -- killing more women than cancer, malaria, traffic and war-related incidents. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as “Convention of Belem do Pará.” How much have we advanced in the past two decades? Less than one third of countries in the region (28 percent) have a specific national plan to respond to this issue, and most (78 percent) approach it tangentially in other plans or national security policies. This is corroborated by our UNDP analysis  carried out in 32 countries in the region, which led to the study “States' Commitment: plans and policies to eradicate violence against women in Latin  Read More

      • Can Small Island Developing States wait for global development goals to be set? | Gonzalo Pizarro

        14 May 2014

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        THE UNDP DOMINICAN REPUBLIC OFFICE WORKS TOWARDS REDUCING RISK AND VULNERABILITY AND INCREASING CAPACITY TO REDUCE THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF DISASTERS AND ENSURE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. PHOTO: R. D. EMILIANO LARIZZA FOR UNDP.

        Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been, and still are, facing major challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):  low growth, high unemployment, aging population, brain drain, high debt levels, small carrying capacities and extreme exposure to the effects of climate change. One example is Saint Maarten, a small island in the Dutch Antilles, which every week welcomes more tourists arriving on cruise ships than it has inhabitants. As Saint Maarten is highly dependent on tourism, maintaining and protecting the natural environment is essential to its socio-economic wellbeing. The tourist industry accounts for 80 percent of the island’s GDP. Reef tourism and fishing are important attractions. But the development world’s attention is now being set on the post-2015 agenda and the proposal for a new set of global goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will emerge with their accompanying targets this September at the UN General Assembly. This new agenda is anchored on the understanding that you can’t have development without simultaneously caring for its social, economic and environmental dimensions.   For Saint Maarten, sustainable development is not just a matter of negotiations at UN Headquarters, it is a matter of immediate action.  The country, aware of this challenge,  Read More

      • Friendly clinics for sexual diversity | Manuel Irizar

        06 May 2014

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        LBGT PEOPLE ASPIRE TO RECEIVE THE SAME HEALTH, EDUCATION, OR EMPLOYMENT SERVICES AS ALL OF US. PHOTO: UNDP IN COLOMBIA

        In recent years, Argentinian society has made significant progress as relates to the full exercise of citizens’ rights. However, sexually diverse groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LBGT) people still face discriminatory situations affecting dramatically their quality of life. Access to free public health services for LGBTs has always been problematic in Argentina. At UNDP, we consider that the system’s shortcomings must be countered by concrete initiatives - such as theFriendly Clinics for Sexual Diversity. Financed by our Regional Office, the project involves setting up dedicated areas for LGBTs as part of the public health service. These areas are supervised through joint action by social organizations, local HIV programs and Public Hospital Services. A joint task force involving civil society organizations and a health team working at the Public Hospital has been established to raise awareness of the Friendly Clinics, and to encourage and accompany regular visits by members of the diversity groups accessing health care. The health team provides services such as medical care, counseling   and diagnosis of HIV and other STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), psychosocial support and schedules specific treatments required by the patients. To get this proposal off the ground,we surveyed 11 provinces across the country to  Read More

      • From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals | Leire Pajín

        05 May 2014

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        THE UN HAS LED CONSULTATIONS ON A NEW DEVELOPMENT AGENDA THAT TAKES VOICES FROM ALL ITS MEMBER STATES INTO CONSIDERATION. (PHOTO: UNDP THAILAND)

          The world has undergone significant change since the launching of the Millennium Declaration – a declaration capable of galvanizing political will and enabling agreement on the international development agenda as defined by eight objectives. The time has now come to examine and renew true political commitments. As part of this process, the UN has led reflection and debate to define a new agenda for the “Future We Want for All"  initiative based on two guiding principles: to accelerate and fulfill of the Millennium Declaration’s tasks, and also to incorporate the new challenges posed by our unique and complex world based on lessons learnt during the past 14 years. What role can the international community play within this context? Finish what has been started. If we take stock of what has happened during these 14 years, much progress has been made, particularly in reducing extreme poverty, creating universal access to primary education, fighting malaria and improving access to drinking water. As various UN reports have highlighted, several countries have made significant strides forward on the MDGs, and some of the most important successes in recent years have occurred in the poorest countries. However, new challenges appear on the horizon. We need a new agenda for a different  Read More

      • Beyond the street protests: Youth, women and democracy in Latin America | Jessica Faieta

        28 Apr 2014

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        Young Latin Americans have been taking to the streets, playing a central role in recent protests in countries like Brazil, Chile (pictured), Peru and Mexico. Photo: Pamela Sepulveda/IPS

        Women’s empowerment and political participation are not only crucial for women: they are essential for effective democratic governance, one which promotes human rights and equity.  The same can be said about the importance of boosting youth political participation. The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) invited three young women parliamentarians from Latin America and the Caribbean to join a recent discussion in Salamanca, Spain, on young women’s political participation in the region. That’s what Paola Pabón from Ecuador, Silvia Alejandrina Castro from El Salvador and Gabriela Montaño from Bolivia have in common. They are among the very few women in parliaments and they are young: They broke a double glass ceiling. Of the 600 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 26 percent are young, aged 15-29. This is a unique opportunity for the region’s development and for its present and future governance. Even though the average regional rate of women taking up positions in parliament is 25 percent, higher than the global average, a closer look shows that women still lag behind. Our recent survey of 25 parliaments in Latin America and the Caribbean shows a very low representation of youth in the region’s parliaments – especially those of African or indigenous descent. Only 2.7 percent  Read More

      • Working together to find solutions to insecurity | Pablo Ruiz Hiebra

        17 Apr 2014

        In recent years, public outcry for improved citizen security has led to the introduction of quick, high-visibility solutions to address the problem – solutions such as putting the army in the streets or drafting hasty penal reforms. Unfortunately, results from such initiatives tend to be more questionable than their initial popularity. In light of this, some countries (namely Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, or the Dominican Republic) are attempting to come up with more comprehensive, wide-ranging solutions – solutions combining better coercive capacity of the State with real efforts geared towards the prevention of violence. These countries have succeeded in implementing comprehensive public policies for citizen security, introducing short-term, medium-term and long-term initiatives. Over the last few years, UNDP has supported the development and assessment of such initiatives as one of its priority areas, placing special emphasis on human rights and the fight to end gender-based violence.  I think it would be useful to examine two processes of citizen participation that can serve as a reference for the rest of the region: In Brazil, the call for the first Conference on Public Safety (CONSEG) marked a historic turning point, as municipalities, states, security experts, social bodies and government agencies responsible for citizen  Read More

      • Toward a proposal for shared parenthood │Carina Lupica

        15 Apr 2014

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        JULIO LIMPIAS MANAGES TWO JOBS: TAKING CARE OF HIS CHILD AND HEADING AN ECO-FRIENDLY BUSINESS IN BOLIVIA. PHOTO: UNDP BOLIVIA

        In the past decade in Latin America and the Caribbean, around 22.8 million women joined the labour market. This advancement has contributed to a labour force today with more than 100 million women. Nevertheless, their labour-force contribution in urban areas (52.6 percent) is still lower than that of men (79.6 percent), and women are still working in low-quality jobs, with negative consequences on their income level and their potential for development. Housework and family care that women still fundamentally provide help explain this. Two main principles underlie the resistance to re-organizing the time men and women dedicate to working in the market and in households. First, men are strongly identified with paid work and women with reproductive work. Second, due to the traditional organization of productive work, there are obstacles to men’s greater commitment to caretaking. Labour laws in the region were established for male workers in an industrial sector working full-time and who are responsible for the family’s financial support; they do not indicate conciliation provisions because they do not consider men responsible for housework and caretaking. The main advancement in labour legislation in the region promoting shared caretaking has been the recognition of the father's right to participate in  Read More

      • Inequality at the crossroads | George Gray Molina

        04 Apr 2014

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        Sustainable agriculture in Apúrimac, Peru. (Photo: UNDP in Peru)

        After recording a drop in income inequality for the past decade, new data shows the trend has stagnated across Latin America – and in some cases, there has even been an increase in the concentration of income. This analysis is based on the latest revision of household data coming from the  Socioeconomic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean (SEDLAC) and published by the World Bank. The regional Gini coefficient (the index most frequently used to measure income inequality) decreased by an average of 0.94 percent per annum, whereas in 2011 it fell by just 0.33 percent, and by a meager 0.02 percent in 2012. Based on these figures, our UNDP estimates indicate that in six of the 16 countries under review, inequality levels have stagnated between 2010 and 2012. How to account for such stagnation? With no appreciable fluctuations in social transfers or in pensions for this period, the culprit appears to be the labor market, namely the segment of low-skilled workers in the service sectors – sectors that provided most of the new jobs during the economic boom. As growth in earned income is both a benefit to society (leading to poverty reduction) and a cost for businesses (due  Read More

      • How to enhance the skills of girls, boys and youth | Martín Fuentes

        24 Mar 2014

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        The Human Development Report Panama highlighted the need to learn to research and develop critical thinking. Photo: UNDP Panama

        The 2014 Human Development Report Panama discusses early childhood, youth and formation of life skills. This report examines difficult themes, such as job training, family and education, and whether young people study and/or work. One obvious way to approach life skills in many countries in the region would be to focus on job training, either because the productive sectors require a permanent supply of qualified personnel or because a country is strongly committed to a knowledge-based economy. But concern about job training is important but short-sighted; it is more important to train people who are also motivated to work. Indeed, although applied skills are easier to learn, many employers recognize that it is more important to hire individuals who are creative and take initiative, difficult skills to learn. Therefore, it is important to provide good training in the basic skills of "learning how to learn,” — rather than having a wealth of information, it is more important to know what to look for and where, and to be capable of discerning what is relevant. However, beyond seeing training as basic building blocks with which to construct something more complex, there are a number of key socio-emotional skills that cannot be strengthened  Read More

      • Democracy: Where are women, youth, indigenous people and people of African descent? | Gerardo Noto

        10 Mar 2014

        In 2014, Latin America and the Caribbean will hold seven presidential elections, many of which are to be determined by run-offs. Fortunately, in general, our region has become accustomed to holding transparent elections where citizens can freely express their will in electing their representatives to public office. Empowered citizens demand better institutional quality: they call for more and better representation and participation in the processes of shaping and implementing public policies. From the perspective of a citizens' democracy, which UNDP strongly promotes in Latin America and the Caribbean, the right to elect and be elected is a key dimension of political citizenship. Thus, it is important to take the pulse of various sectors of society who participate in the elections, and how the elected representatives reflect the heterogeneity of our societies. Fortunately, there is good news regarding the exercise of voting rights and gender, as women effectively exercise their right to vote. However, there are still major shortcomings regarding the right to be elected. While the region has shown significant progress in recent decades, increasing from 8.2 per cent women’s representation in national legislatures in 1990 to 20.6 per cent in 2010, on average, there are still deep heterogeneities across countries.  Read More