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Date: Sat, 11 Jul 98 10:01:15 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: LATAM: Globalisation Exacerbates Children's Social Ills
Article: 38742
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.6536.19980712121551@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 466.0 **/
Globalisation Exacerbates Children's Social Ills **
** Written 4:08 PM Jul 9, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Globalisation Exacerbates Children's Social Ills

By Rey Rodriguez, IPS, 6 July 1998

MEXICO CITY, Jul 6 (IPS) - Economic globalisation has failed to reduce, and in some cases has even exacerbated, the social ills plaguing children in Latin America, concluded a Unicef-sponsored seminar which called for the urgent formulation of alternative models of development.

Marta Mauras, regional director of Unicef (United Nations children's fund), told the representatives of 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries participating in the seminar held last week in Mexico City that the programmes currently applied by the governments of the region designed to benefit children suffered major shortcomings and should be revised.

The economic model predominant in the region and the process of globalisation accompanying it today accentuates the poor distribution of income, poverty, and unequal access to social services and food security, Mauras underlined.

Latin America is the region with the greatest disparity in terms of distribution of wealth.

She added that the improvement of Latin America's macroeconomic indicators in recent years had not led to a corresponding improvement in the situation of children.

According to the Inter-American Institute of the Child, 15 million of the region's roughly 200 million children live in the street and six million are malnourished. Moreover, 70 percent of the victims of violence are minors, mainly girls.

Today we see a resurgence in violence and family and citizen insecurity which clearly has to do with a model that marginalises and excludes a large proportion of the population, said Maura, who urged the governments of Latin America to come up with alternative models for resolving the problems facing children.

Mexico City Secretary of Education and Health, Clara Jusidman, pointed out that children suffer much more keenly the uncertainty caused by violence, exclusion, inequity and social, cultural, economic and political crises, and urged the elaboration of models providing a safety net for the poorest of the poor.

An estimated one-quarter of the world's children work, many of them in difficult conditions such as slavery, prostitution or as domestics and construction or factory workers with meagre pay.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) statistics, some 17.5 million children in the region work, a large proportion of them in domestic service, especially in Brazil and Venezuela.

Argentine expert Alberto Milujin with the Colombia-based Unicef office for Latin America and the Caribbean told IPS that his office advocated the abolishment of work for children under 12 and that jobs realised by teenagers entail some formative aspect.

In Brazil, for example, there have been efforts to reduce the number of children working in the streets by providing vocational training to help adults in the family obtain better jobs, and by providing cash bonuses to help children stay in school, he pointed out.

Milujin lamented that social policies in most Latin American countries are perceived of today as compensation for monetary and economic policies, which are given top priority.

Another of the problems debated by the seminar was the fight against corruption which, as the representative of Unicef for Mexico and Cuba, Jose Carlos Cuentas-Zavala, told IPS, constitutes one of the factors compromising the state's capacity to protect children.

He also highlighted phenomena which are exacerbated by globalisation, such as child prostitution and pornography.

Since Unicef has turned its focus away from monitoring state social policies, it is organising seminars like the one held in Mexico City, said Cuentas-Zavala, who urged the elaboration of alternative policies and programmes to counteract the negative effects of globalisation.

But several officials participating in the seminar highlighted major strides taken in Latin America, especially in terms of providing healthcare, adequate nutrition and preschool education to chidren under six.

Mauras underlined the example of Mexico, where major progress has been made in increasing children's probability of reaching adulthood and reducing infant mortality and malnutrition.

Unicef consultant Eduardo Bustelo told IPS that it would not be fair to accuse Latin American governments of doing nothing in favour of children, even though the common citizen might feel that way.

But he urged governments in the region to fully assume challenges today ranging from the generation of jobs and increased investment in educational systems to the implementation of programmes designed to eliminate child prostitution, pornography and labour.