Countries of the Region Advocate for Progress on Social Investment in Light of Economic Situation and Inequality Gaps

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eclacThe Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Social Development, a subsidiary body of ECLAC, held its first meeting on November 1 in Santo Domingo.

(November 1, 2016) Social development ministers and senior officials from Latin America and the Caribbean met today in the Dominican Republic to acknowledge the importance of safeguarding social investment and advancing towards universal protection systems to avoid setbacks in the fight against poverty, given the current economic situation, and to make progress to close the inequality gaps identified by ECLAC in a new document.

This was highlighted during the first meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Social Development, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which presented the document The social inequality matrix in Latin America. This study analyzes inequality in the region, stemming from a heterogeneous production matrix that results in high income disparity, based on what it considers to be core structural axes: socioeconomic level, gender, race and ethnicity, age and territory, among others.

This meeting was held in conjunction with the VIII Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and Caribbean, which was inaugurated on October 31 with the participation of ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena. According to the senior United Nations official, it is estimated that at the end of 2015, there were 175 million people living in poverty in Latin America (29.2% of the total population), of whom 75 million were in a situation of extreme poverty.

“We come here today to propose to countries an analytical framework that addresses the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to disentangle the structural axes of inequality and their links to poverty and wealth. These aspects intersect and reinforce each other, reproducing severe gaps in income levels, in access to productive resources and decent work, as well as to social inclusion and the exercise of rights,” Bárcena indicated.

The document was presented this Tuesday by the Director of ECLAC’s Social Development Division, Laís Abramo, and commented upon by the Vice President of the Dominican Republic, Margarita Cedeño; the Peruvian Minister of Social Development and Inclusion, Cayetana Aljovín; and Uruguay’s Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ana Olivera.

Vice President Margarita Cedeño defended the implementation of inclusive strategies to address inequality with a rights-based approach and an integrated perspective, which she said would include an increase in formal employment, increased productivity and improved taxation systems.

Peru’s Minister of Social Development and Inclusion, Cayetana Aljovín, underscored that social development policies require coordination between the State and civil society, while Uruguay’s Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ana Olivera, stressed the importance of addressing the cultural dimension of the fight against inequality in the region.

In their agreements, the countries also acknowledged the contributions made in the document, highlighting the importance of making progress to generate productive employment and decent work, the universalization of access to education and quality health care, and the construction of universal, integrated systems of social protection to eradicate poverty and take action on inequality gaps.

They likewise underlined the significance of having systematic statistical information on the different dimensions of inequality set forth in the document, as well as making progress on the formulation of social agreements, compacts and consensuses to affirm a culture of equality capable of moving beyond the culture of privilege that has historically characterized the region.

The countries also expressed their appreciation for the work done by ECLAC on this document and other studies, the creation and expansion of databases, the technical assistance provided, and the cooperation and exchange of experiences.

This Conference is a subsidiary body of ECLAC, created in May 2014. The first meeting of the Conference took place in Lima in November 2015; its second meeting will be held in Uruguay in 2017. The Presiding Officers are currently chaired by Peru, with Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama and Paraguay as Vice Chairs.

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