• AQ Video: Poverty, Exclusion and Violence Reduce Opportunities for Guatemala's Youth

    August 7, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    Guatemala's youth represent 70 percent of its 14.7 million inhabitants but they face many challenges in their medium- to long-term development, notes a new United Nations Development Programme study. Malnutrition, illiteracy or low levels of education, unemployment or informal employment, and the lack of documentation limit their abilities to get ahead in society and result in migration and violence. Video, en Español.

    Tags: Guatemala, Youth

  • Americas Society Releases White Paper on Political Participation and Social Inclusion

    March 8, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    At the end of February, Americas Society released a white paper titled Political Representation & Social Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala as a part of its Social Inclusion Program.

    The white paper aims to answer the question: Does the increased presence of Indigenous and Afro-descendant representatives in national legislatures make a difference for these populations? The report presents the findings and conclusions of Americas Society’s Ford Foundation-funded research on political inclusion, with a goal to help bring greater attention to the gains and challenges of race- and/or ethnicity-based political representation in Latin America. It analyzes how political representation of traditionally marginalized populations has changed over time, from 1986 to 2012, and if it has affected policy in favor of these populations.

    The report draws on field research conducted in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala—four countries with sizable Indigenous and/or Afro-descendant populations. The comparative report and individual country case studies explore the unique political and social movements and constitutional reforms that paved the way for greater ethnic or racial representation and their effectiveness in representing and defending their communities’ demands once in office. In total, 12 congressional sessions and two constituent assemblies between 1986 and 2012 are observed.

    Access the full white paper: Political Representation & Social Inclusion: A Comparative Study of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala.

    Tags: Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Social inclusion, Ecuador, Political Participation

  • Americas Society Releases White Paper on Youth Market Access

    March 8, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    At the end of February, Americas Society released a white paper titled Bringing Youth into Labor Markets: Public-Private Efforts amid Insecurity and Migration as a part of its Social Inclusion Program. This white paper presents the findings of Americas Society’s Ford Foundation-funded research on innovative practices that foster youth access to formal labor markets. The report highlights innovative private-sector programs that promote youth employment as well as public policy efforts to foster opportunities for young workers in El Salvador and Mexico—countries grappling with youth unemployment along with security and migration challenges. The focus is on initiatives that further skills training, entrepreneurship, and support for at-risk youth.

    Recommendations include:

    •    Mechanisms should be established to subject private-sector led programs to rigorous evaluations with the goal of ensuring the continuity of successful initiatives.
    •    The private and public sectors should provide incentives, such as guaranteed internships/apprenticeships or education scholarships, for youth who study the skills that nationwide employment trend forecasts determine are in highest demand.
    •    Nationally recognized accreditation systems in technical and non-technical skills should be created so that young job-seekers and employers can verify employment preparedness.
    •    Employers must reverse the bias and discrimination that prevents the hiring of at-risk youth.

    Access the full white paper: Bringing Youth into Labor Markets: Public-Private Efforts amid Insecurity and Migration.

    Tags: El Salvador, Mexico, Social inclusion, Market Access

  • UN Achieves Millennium Development Goal

    March 7, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    The United Nations has already met one of its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) ahead of the 2015 deadline: access to safe drinking water. This was one of the 21 sub-goals or “targets” folded into the eight larger goals: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; achievement of universal primary education; promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women; reduction of child mortality rates; improvement of maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and undertaking a global partnership for development. The MDGs were agreed upon in the Millennium Declaration circa September 2000.

    The specific MDG target achieved is worded as follows in the Declaration, relative to the base year of 1990: “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” According to a report from the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund, 89 percent of the world’s population had access to improved water sources at the conclusion of 2010, up from 76 percent in 1990—exceeding the goal of 88 percent. A BBC article also notes that although an estimated 800 million people worldwide still drink dirty and unsafe water, in the past 20 years two billion people have accessed improved drinking supplies—a feat that should be celebrated.

    The drinking water access, however, has improved unevenly: of the 11 percent in the world’s population without access to safe drinking water, 40 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Tags: United Nations, sustainability, Millennium Development Goal, Water

  • LAPOP Releases New Analysis on Education and Skin Color

    February 21, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    Vanderbilt University's Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) released a new report yesterday on whether educational attainment, a key indicator of socioeconomic status, is related to skin color in Latin America and the Caribbean. "Pigmentocracy in the Americas: How is Educational Attainment Related to Skin Color?" is written by Edward Telles and Liza Steele, both at the Department of Sociology of Princeton University, and is part of LAPOP's AmericasBarometer series.

    Based on data from LAPOP's 2010 AmericasBarometer, Telles and Steele's analysis concludes that people "with lighter skin color tend to have higher levels of schooling than those with dark skin color throughout the region, with few exceptions." The authors go on to say that "the negative relation between skin color and educational attainment occurs independently of class origin and other variables known to affect socioeconomic status."

    For more analysis, read "The Effects of Skin Color in the Americas", an AQ Web Exclusive by the authors of this LAPOP report.

    Tags: Education, Social inclusion, Skin Color

  • AQ Video: Sesame Workshop in Nahuatl (Part II)

    February 14, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    "Plaza Sésamo" reaches out to traditionally marginalized Nahuatl communities by broadcasting a full episode in the Nahuatl language. Here is a clip, used with permission from Sesame Workshop.

    Tags: Social inclusion, Media, Sesame Workshop, Nahuatl

  • AQ Video: Sesame Workshop Provides a First-Hand Account of a Mayan Village in Mexico

    February 7, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    "Plaza Sésamo" profiles a Mayan school in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, and teaches viewers how to count to 10 in the Mayan language. Video used with permission from Sesame Workshop.

    Tags: Mexico, Sesame Workshop, Maya

  • AQ Video: Holistic Community Development in Central Brazil with Bunge Foundation

    January 24, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    In the Brazilian state of Tocantins, learn about how Bunge Foundation—through a program called Integrated Community—is spurring sustainable territorial development both socially and economically. Currently, the program exists in three cities in Tocantins: Pedro Afonso, Tupirama and Bom Jesus do Tocantins.

    Bunge Foundation undertakes a three-pronged approach:

    1)    Forging relationships with the community, which then promotes awareness of the Bunge enterprise in the region and also helps the enterprise become part of the community.
    2)    Strengthening public institutions such as municipal councils and tax and budgetary authorities, in order to develop sustainable infrastructure. 
    3)    Lending support for human and social development, which strives to promote community development through occupational training and development of suppliers, among other actions.

    Learn more about Integrated Community on Fundação Bunge's official website.

    Tags: Brazil, Public-private partnerships, Tocantins, Community Development

  • AQ Video: Why Does Development Matter to Business?

    January 20, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    In October 2011, USAID convened a forum of business leaders to discuss the importance of public-private partnerships and specifically why PPPs are integral for international development. Panelists included representatives from Merck, Swiss Re America Holding Corporation and Cargill.

    Tags: Development, Social inclusion, USAID, Public-private partnerships

  • AQ Video: Infrastructure Development in Haiti

    January 19, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    Last week marked the two-year anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, one of the most devastating in history. It magnified global attention to the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, especially as the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince were 25 kilometers from the tremor’s epicenter.

    In order to prevent these areas in Haiti from sliding into indigence, the World Bank is proactively funding initiatives to empower Haiti’s government and civil society to become more prepared against future natural disasters. Learn about how financing and training from the World Bank is helping the poorest communities of Haiti better determine risk through infrastructure and urban planning as the country continues to rebuild.

    Tags: Social inclusion, World Bank, Haiti, Infrastructure

  • AQ Video: Sesame Workshop Explores Bolivia

    January 13, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    "Plaza Sésamo" follows César, a young Bolivian, as he navigates his way through a La Paz marketplace. Video used with permission from Sesame Workshop.


    Tags: Bolivia, Social inclusion, Sesame Workshop

  • AQ Video: Expanding Access to Technology in the Dominican Republic

    January 11, 2012

    by AQ Inclusion

    With partial funding from Cisco Systems, "Mujer en la Red" (Women on the Network) provides underprivileged young women in the Dominican Republic with access to the ever-growing Information and Communication Technology industry. Video in Spanish.

    Tags: Dominican Republic, Social inclusion, Women's rights, Information and communications technology

  • AQ Video: Sesame Workshop in Nahuatl

    December 19, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    "Plaza Sésamo" reaches out to marginalized Nahuatl children, illustrating how to count to 11 in Nahuatl. Video used with permission from Sesame Workshop.

    Tags: Mexico, Social inclusion, Sesame Workshop, Nahuatl

  • Social Inclusion Case Study: Cisco Systems

    December 12, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Cisco Systems, Inc., a computer networking firm with over 70,000 employees worldwide, is committed to not only selling its products to Latin American and Caribbean countries but also encouraging community development and promoting social inclusion within those markets. Accordingly, Cisco has partnered with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and public-sector institutions to maximize the impact of its technological expertise on local populations—which is a model that other corporations should consider.

    Cisco's flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) tool is its Cisco Networking Academy (CNA) initiative. Started in 1997, CNA delivers practical, hands-on training in information and communications technology (ICT) in the areas of designing, building, troubleshooting, and securing computer networks. The goal of CNA is for students to further their education, prepare for careers in ICT or even start their own businesses.

    CNA is a public-private partnership; Cisco teams up with universities, NGOs and government agencies to develop the ICT courses and—leveraging those partnerships—maximize access for those in the lowest socioeconomic percentiles. There are over 10,000 CNAs across 165 countries; in Latin America its reach spans 22 countries via 1,200 partner organizations since the program's inception. 600,000 citizens of Latin America—including 174,000 this year alone—have enrolled in CNA courses . Worldwide, Cisco has trained 3.75 million people to date, 900,000 of them just in 2011, with women comprising nearly one-fourth of trainees.

    Tags: Education, Social inclusion, Women's rights, Technology, Cisco Systems

  • Social Inclusion Case Study: Sesame Workshop

    December 6, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind "Sesame Street," Plaza Sésamo,  and so much more, was founded over 40 years ago as Children’s Television Workshop with the goal of helping prepare children from low-income families for school. As UNESCO’s 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report highlights, education “enables people to make choices in areas that matter.” It adds that those who lack “literacy and numeracy skills face a heightened risk of poverty, insecure employment, and ill health.” Social inclusion, therefore, is a topic that has always been at the heart of Sesame Workshop.

    With its goal of closing the academic gap, the organization became inherently focused on promoting social inclusion. Since then, the Workshop has expanded its reach to over 150 countries all over the globe, addressing various issues from health and well-being, to mutual respect and understanding, and of course, early literacy and numeracy and school preparedness.

    Sesame Workshop’s dedication to social inclusion can be summarized in its mission: “Sesame Workshop is committed to the principle that all children deserve a chance to learn and grow; to be prepared for school; to better understand the world and each other; to think, dream and discover; to reach their highest potential.”

    Tags: Education, Social inclusion, Media, Children

  • AQ Video: Entrepreneurial and Corporate Engagement in Brazil's Public Schools

    October 25, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Learn about how Parceiros da Educação (Education Partners)—a public-private partnership in Brazil—enlists businesses and entrepreneurs to support and work with public schools to monitor educational progress.

    Tags: Brazil, Education, Public-private partnerships

  • AQ Video: Educational Public-Private Partnerships in Brazil

    October 4, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Witness a case study of how Parceiros da Educação (Education Partners), a public-private partnership in Brazil, trains teachers—featured on the Brazilian TV station Canal Futura.


    Tags: Brazil, Education, Social inclusion

  • LAPOP Announces Winner of 2011 Best Paper Award

    September 26, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Today the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) at Vanderbilt University honored Leslie Schwindt-Bayer with its Best Paper Award for her work, “Gender Quotas and Women’s Political Participation in Latin America.” Dr. Schwindt-Bayer is an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri. Her paper explores whether legislative quotas for women affect levels of political engagement among citizens, particularly women.

    This is the inaugural year of the Best Paper Award, which acknowledges outstanding work by a recipient of a 2011 Small Grant or Data Award. The Small Grants and Data competition provided funding for researchers studying discrimination, marginalization, political opinion, and democracy, and whose work would draw on AmericasBarometer and/or LAPOP data. In announcing the award, the selection committee said it was “impressed by this paper’s strong theoretical framework…and sophisticated cross-national analysis.”

    In her paper Dr. Schwindt-Bayer takes the position that gender quotas represent a more inclusive, legitimate political system and can mobilize women, theoretically increasing their political participation and reducing gender gaps in this area. She concludes, however, that though gender quotas have expanded representation at the national level, they have had little effect on the masses with regard to political interest and other forms of participation.

    Dr. Schwindt-Bayer will present her research and formally receive the Best Paper Award on October 27 at the conference, “Marginalization in the Americas: A Perspective from the AmericasBarometer,” which will take place at the University of Miami.

    Tags: Social inclusion, Women's rights, Gender Quotas

  • Colombian Congress Approves Landmark Social Inclusion Law

    August 31, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Yesterday Colombia’s congress approved an anti-discrimination bill that levies prison sentences of one to three years for acts of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political belief, or sexual orientation. The bill, Ley 08 in the Senate and Ley 165 in the House of Representatives, was authored by Senator Carlos Baena of the Partido Mira. It now awaits a signature from President Juan Manuel Santos.

    Passage of the bill is considered a landmark victory for Colombia’s minorities, including Afro-Colombians, Indigenous populations, and LGBT groups, and had the backing of many NGOs supporting greater rights for these traditionally excluded populations. According to the 2005 Colombian census, 10.5 percent of the Colombian population self-identifies as “black, mulatto, or of African descent.” The Comisión Intersectorial Afrocolombiana reports that 80 percent of Afro-Colombians live below the line of extreme poverty.

    During legislative consideration, observers debated whether jail time was the most effective form of punishment. Some, including the former Deputy Attorney General Francisco José Sintura, argued that prison sentences were excessive and opted for other means like education. The bill also received criticism—and its passage delayed—for not specifying what constitutes an act of discrimination. Before yesterday’s final vote, however, Partido Mira refined the bill’s language to define six circumstances that could be considered discriminatory under the law, including physical assault, employment discrimination and refusal of admittance to movie theaters, bars, etc.

    In a statement, Senator Baena said that the new law will “settle a historic debt with the Afro-Colombian population that continues to face racism.” Baena added that “the Afro-Colombian role is essential to the economic, social and political reality of our country.”

    Colombia is a focus country for the Americas Society Social Inclusion Program.

    Tags: Colombia, Social inclusion, Juan Manuel Santos, Afro-Latinos

  • Announcing AQ Online's Social Inclusion Portal

    August 17, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have registered remarkable achievements in recent years, including prudent fiscal management throughout the Great Recession, the further institutionalization of democratic governance, improved health services, and more. Still, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report published last year named Latin America and the Caribbean as the “world’s most unequal region.” This not only harms those excluded but also stifles  the expansion of new markets and the competitiveness of local economies. Clearly, more progress is needed.

    This is why Americas Quarterly is launching this Social Inclusion portal. More attention must be focused on the “have-nots” of the hemisphere—those often excluded from the fruits of socioeconomic development or decision making processes. This makes business sense as well. Greater inclusion fosters econonomic growth and maximizes the overall productivity and consumption of a society. The great challenge for business, society and policymakers is to identify policies and practices that can reduce endemic exclusion of underserved populations such as the Indigenous, Afro-Latinos, urban and rural poor, and women.

    For many, the problems of exclusion stem from the historic lack of access and opportunities blocked by racism, feckless states, weak and imperfect markets, marginalization, and political and economic monopolies. Breaking these patterns will depend on innovations that recognize these connections, the risks of not addressing them, and involving and elevating fresh voices in the policy debate on social inclusion.

    We are dedicated to promoting debate of this critical issue. With the launch of this Social Inclusion portal, AQ Online is bringing together voices from across the hemisphere of those that represent traditionally marginalized groups to connect with business and policymakers. In doing so, we are starting a conversation about where good policies and programs are being created to foster greater inclusion while also generating debate about what must be done to create more equal and economically prosperous societies. We invite you to join this conversation.

    Read a post, watch a video, or view a slideshow, and then comment on it and add your voice to the discussion. And come back to our Inclusion page for continuous coverage of hemispheric news and developments related to inclusion. The bloggers covering these issues—four current bloggers and four more to be announced shortly—are recognized thought leaders and advocates for social inclusion, and will focus on issues such as market access, political participation, education, health care, representation, justice, digital divide, land rights, and other topics that arise.

    Daniel Mera Villamizar is the director of Fundación Color de Colombia (Colombia Color Foundation), an organization of Colombia’s black middle class. Jaevion Nelson is executive director at the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (J-YAN), a youth-led volunteer and advocacy organization based in Kingston, Jamaica. Paulo Rogério Nunes is executive director of the Instituto Mídia Étnica (Ethnic Media Institute) in Salvador, Brazil. Yoloxóchitl Casas Chousal is a journalist by profession and feminist by conviction who has appeared across written, radio, television, and internet platforms in Mexico City for more than 30 years.

    We welcome your suggestions of topics to be covered or any other recommendations. We also invite you to learn more about the Ford Foundation-funded project being implemented by Americas Society of which this page is a component.

    Tags: Social inclusion

  • AQ Video: The Private Sector and Social Development in Latin America

    August 9, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    View how Microsoft has partnered with the Organization of American States to enhance social development in the Americas through the "Unlimited Potential Partnerships" program.

    Tags: Social inclusion, Microsoft, Organization of American States (OAS)

  • AQ Video: Business Stepping Up to Provide Health Care

    August 9, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Lack of access to health care is pervasive in rural areas of Latin America. Watch GE address this challenge in Honduras through its "Developing Health Globally" initiative.

    Tags: Honduras, Social inclusion, General Electric

  • AQ Slideshow: Afro-Bolivian Culture

    August 8, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Although they constitute a small fraction of South America’s only indigenous-majority country, Afro-Bolivians maintain a distinct identity all their own.

    Tags: Bolivia, Social inclusion

  • Afro-Peruvians Gain Federal Representation

    August 3, 2011

    by AQ Inclusion

    Although Ollanta Humala became Peru’s president just last week, he has already achieved a landmark accomplishment by appointing the first black minister in the history of the republic. Renowned Afro-Peruvian singer, Susana Baca, 67, will lead Peru’s culture ministry.

    Baca, whose name and work is synonymous with Afro-Peruvian tradition, mixes Andean and African beats in her music. Her work won her a Latin Grammy award in 2002 for “Best Folk Album,” referring to Lamento Negro which had been recorded in Cuba two decades prior. Over the years, Ms. Baca has become an ambassador of sorts for Peru’s black community; she is building a cultural center for Afro-Peruvians in the Peruvian town of Santa Barbara and has toured frequently around the world.

    Ms. Baca’s nomination came as a welcome surprise to many who had become accustomed to the absence of black representatives in Peruvian politics. In 2009, Peru under Alan García became the first Latin American country to formally apologize to its citizens of African descent. The government apologized for the “abuse, exclusion and discrimination perpetrated against [Afro-Peruvians], from the colonial era until the present.” So while discrimination of Afro-Peruvians is not state-sanctioned, many believe that there remains a high degree of “underground” racism.

    President Humala's new culture ministry is a welcome step in reversing such racism.

    Tags: Peru, Ollanta Humala, Susana Baca

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