Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Investing in the youth of Latin America


Nearly one third of young people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in poverty, which endangers the exercise of the rights enshrined in international instruments, states a report entitled Invertir en juventud en América Latina y el Caribe: un imperativo de derechos e inclusión (The Investing in Latin American and the Caribbean Youth: a right and inclusion imperative), presented by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Quito.
The document shows a demographic profile of the youth in the region, analyzes poverty and wretched poverty, examines the access to education and employment, as well as the range of training and labour integration programmes, and explores social participation. The text was presented in the context of the ECLAC Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, to conclude today in the Ecuadorian capital.
In the report, ECLAC and UNFPA call for the design of comprehensive social protection and promotion systems for the youth in the region. Both institutions state the need to reach an agreement to invest in the youth with positive measures to be taken in the most vulnerable sectors, such as women and young people in rural areas, as well as those belonging to indigenous peoples or Afro-descendant communities.
According to UN data from 2011, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the population between 15 and 29 years old accounts for 26% of the total population. Currently, most of the countries of the region are experiencing a phenomenon known as "demographic bond", in which the largest percentage of the population is old enough to work and be productive compared to the groups considered dependent (children and old persons). This situation generates opportunities for social investment.
According to the document, in 2009, the poverty and wretched poverty incidence among young people between the ages of 15 and 29 in the region amounted to 30.3% and 10.1%, respectively. This group, together with children under 15 years old, is the most vulnerable to poverty in Latin America.
In Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, poverty incidence in the same ages is below 15%, whereas wretched poverty amounts to 5%; on the other hand, poverty affects more than 50% of the youth in Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Paraguay, whilst in Honduras the incidence reaches 60%. 
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