In a country known for its economic growth and financial integration, inequity remains an Achilles’ heel. Mexico’s national averages hide a reality of poverty and marginalization for millions of people, including children. In this context UNICEF, together with the national social policy evaluation agency CONEVAL, launched the study Child and Adolescent Poverty and Social Rights in Mexico.
“The economy has grown well over the past years”, said UNICEF Representative Isabel Crowley, “But this does not always mean that the poor are better off. The human development indexes in some parts of Mexico are close to those of some of the world’s least developed countries”. In 2010, 46.2% of Mexico’s residents lived in poverty – a figure that rises to 53.8% among children, who are overrepresented among the poor. Nearly 14% of Mexican children under five are stunted – a figure that is higher in rural areas and reaches nearly 33% among indigenous children.
The study brings attention to the more than 20 million children and adolescents estimated to live in poverty – of whom more than five million live in extreme poverty – and aims to place children firmly at the core of Mexico’s political and public agenda.
“These poverty levels reveal persistent and grave inequities in the fulfilment of child rights. As the President said just three weeks ago, efforts and resources must be dedicated to children, because in them – he said – lies the future of the Mexico we want to have”, said Erika Strand, UNICEF’s Chief of Social Policy in Mexico, “This situation requires an urgent public policy response, to ensure equity and inclusion for all children in Mexico. Indeed, this publication takes advantage of Mexico’s innovative methodology, to measure poverty beyond simply income – to better inform public policy design and implementation”. The study also aims to serve as a best practice for UNICEF in upper middle-income countries, as part of UNICEF and Mexico’s joint efforts to export the country’s best practices in measuring poverty.
“Just weeks after my arrival to Mexico, I see how crucial it is that we all unite forces, to push for a more equitable environment for all children, and I see that the Government is committed to this. This is also essential for the country’s long-term development”, said Ms. Crowley, “We owe this to millions of children who work, who don’t go to school, who are at risk of being exploited by criminals. We owe this to Manuel, a five-year old child whom I met last week as he was selling cigarettes in the city centre. We owe it to every child who is not realizing her or his full potential.”
The study highlights that child poverty is very damaging and thus demands an urgent response: when children live in poverty it can have an irreversible impact on their development, and increases the probability of being passed on to future generations.
To download the publication, click on www.unicef.org/mexico.