Elderly Poverty in BoliviaBolivia is one of the most impoverished countries in South America with about 37% of the population living in poverty in 2019. More than 63% of elderly people in Bolivia live in poverty and Bolivia’s elderly population is growing rapidly. This elderly poverty in Bolivia involves circumstances such as food insecurity, limited livelihood possibilities, abandonment by family members moving to urban areas and discriminatory policies.

Developing a Solution

Despite being one of the most impoverished countries, Bolivia ranks above many Eastern European countries in terms of the well-being of senior citizens. The global population of the elderly is growing and it is expected to reach two billion by 2050. Out of these two billion people, 80% will live in low to middle-income countries with few people receiving income support.

Latin American countries are addressing the issue of elderly poverty by raising pension schemes in addition to their strong traditions of international healthcare. Pension schemes act as future investments. These investments take the economic burden of looking after older family members off of younger generations. These investments also allow the elderly more independence, and in turn, increases spending power and the ability to save. Bolivia introduced its universal pension, Renta Dignidad, in 2008. Households eligible for Renta Dignidad have seen a 14% lower poverty rate compared to ineligible households.

The Success of Renta Dignidad

Since the introduction of the non-contributory old-age pension Renta Dignidad, Bolivia has closed coverage gaps and achieved universal coverage. Renta Dignidad only costs about 1% of Bolivia’s GDP and is financed by “taxes on oil and gas production” as well as dividends from state-owned companies. Renta Dignidad has been very successful. Beyond the 14% reduction in poverty across eligible households, the pensions scheme has increased household income and consumption rates.

Child labor is more than 50% less prevalent in households receiving these pension benefits. Because many households no longer require children to work to contribute to household income, many children can now go to school. As such, the Bolivian school enrolment rate is almost 100%. In addition to reduced child labor, households receiving pension have 8% higher school enrollment rates than households without. Renta Dignidad reaches 91% of the population older than 60, and in 2013, had a monthly benefit of 250 bolivianos or $35. Renta Dignidad is the first, and currently, the only, universal pension program in Latin America.

Benefiting Rural Areas

Rural areas experience much more extreme poverty than urban areas. More than 80% of the rural population is unable to meet their basic needs. Additionally, the proportion of undocumented older people is much higher in rural areas. In order to administer Renta Dignidad, the military and national banking system is assisting the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance to deliver benefits. The involvement of the military is crucial in ensuring that remote rural areas reach high coverage rates. Military mobile units utilize mobile satellite dishes that allow beneficiaries to collect their pensions anywhere in the country.

The registration campaign conducted by the program also allows people living in rural areas more access to obtaining personal identification documents. The increased number of people with personal identification documents combined with the increased local demand for goods and services in rural areas due to pensions have helped formalize the rural economy and reduce elderly poverty.

Overall, Renta Dignidad is improving elderly poverty in Bolivia, ensuring that the oldest and most vulnerable population is taken care of.

Jacqueline Zembek
Photo: Flickr

Tackling Human Trafficking in BoliviaHuman trafficking in Bolivia is a serious problem in need of progress. The battle to end human trafficking is underway with many countries making significant changes to help bring an end to the illicit trade. Many of the changes made by governments are internal, such as creating harsher sentencing for those caught involved in the trade. However, other actions are external, like the creation of programs to aid victims of trafficking. Criminalization of and aid for those involved are both heavy blows to the trade, yet many governments, like Bolivia’s, still lag behind most of the world in terms of concrete actions taken toward ending the trade within their borders.

Human Trafficking in Bolivia

The United States’s Trafficking report ranked Bolivia as a Tier 2 country. This indicates that its government falls short of the baseline level of effort of fighting trafficking. Despite having a population of more than 11 million people, the Bolivian government only prosecuted five people for the crime in 2019. In addition to a government that doesn’t take the problem seriously enough, efforts to end human trafficking in Bolivia face another challenge: poverty.

Trafficking is Tied to Poverty

Like in other countries, human trafficking in Bolivia is a problem that partially stems from the socioeconomic status of the country. Poverty is a root cause and result of human trafficking. Extreme poverty makes people vulnerable to trade for a variety of reasons. In addition, impoverished parents are more likely to neglect children because they can’t provide for them. Furthermore, people lack economic security and take seemingly promising jobs only to enter into the forced labor market.

Young girls are sold to be married to bring an income to families. An estimated 15.4 million of the world’s human trafficking victims are women in forced marriages. Young victims of human trafficking often become perpetrators of it when they become adults as a way of escaping the system and gaining security. In total more than 30% of Bolivians live in poverty, leaving a significant portion of the population vulnerable to human trafficking.

Nonprofits Fill in the Gaps the Government Leaves Open

Although the government is not taking enough steps to address human trafficking in Bolivia, nonprofits are stepping in to fill the gaps. For example, nonprofits like Save The Children aim to lift vulnerable children out of poverty and prevent their abuse. A key way the nonprofit aims to help children is through education, which both aids in preventing their abuse and sets them up for success in the future. Additionally, the nonprofit enables children to have access to pre-schools that provide a robust education.

Furthermore, Save The Children provides children with many programs and opportunities that provide education about human trafficking. They equip children with the knowledge necessary to avoid entering the trade. Programs like these have protected 7,000 children from harm and lifted 9,000 out of poverty.

As nonprofits and Bolivia’s government work to tackle the economic and social problems that proliferate human trafficking, many are hopeful that Bolivia will soon be able to improve its Tier 2 status in human trafficking.

– Cole Izquierdo
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19’s Impact in Bolivia Since September 2020, COVID-19’s impact in Bolivia has greatly improved. The country’s COVID-19 cases have reduced, possibly due to the fact that 25% of the population is fully vaccinated. Compared to the fact that less than 0.1% of the population was fully vaccinated in March 2021, this is good progress.

Small Town Controversies

In the small town of San Jose de Chiquitos, they immobilize the virus for a period of time via a controversial method. They use a chlorine dioxide solution (CDS), which is produced from the public university of Santa Cruz de la Serra, and administered by professional healthcare workers to treat people with coronavirus strains.

The town came about this alternative treatment due to the fact that it does not have a lot of advanced equipment, such as respirators, to keep up with COVID-19’s impact in Bolivia.

Originally, the government did not exactly approve of the treatment; however, the lower house has approved a special bill that authorizes the production and therapeutic use of the CDS. It is known as MMS (Miracle Mineral Solution).

Tourism Hit and Recommendation

Bolivia was one of the most tourism-dependent countries in South America, and the hit was felt by many since tourism provides 110,000 jobs for the people. Even domestic travel has suffered greatly. Even though the total percentage of unemployment in 2020 was only 5.61%, according to Statista, COVID-19’s impact in Bolivia has affect many. These people are eager to get back to work in any way possible.
Travel to Bolivia is still not recommended, and it is not allowed if it is deemed nonessential. According to the CDC, Bolivia is still at level 3, and it is ranked among the 10th highest for coronavirus cases in South American countries and countries in the Caribbean. Those who are fully vaccinated are permitted to go, but upon returning, they should get tested three to five days afterward. According to Statista, due to the lack of tourism, the tourism economy has taken a big hit in domestic tourism, with a loss of $530 million.

Vaccines for Everyone

On September 7, Bolivia received a shipment of 150,000 doses of the vaccine from Mexico. President Luis Arce’s administration estimated that some 7.5 million out of 11 million inhabitants are a vulnerable population that should receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. The country has already seen a dramatic increase in vaccinations in just a short period of time.
The country has also been encouraging and promoting everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, including the indigenous groups in rural areas. The country tends to spread the awareness of the vaccine, and just like many South American countries are now doing, they want to help all of their people.
Rinko Kinoshita, Bolivia’s representative for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), did a 5-question interview with The Pivot. She stated, “Through United Nations interagency collaboration, we also are supporting the government with communication campaigns to promote COVID-19 vaccination, especially in indigenous rural communities on the border with Brazil”.

– Veronica Rosas
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in BoliviaBolivia is one of the most impoverished countries in Latin America. According to Children Incorporated, Bolivian children account for 2.5 million of nearly 60% of the total population living in poverty. Bolivian children face malnutrition, inadequate access to education and child labor. Several organizations are showing their commitment to addressing child poverty in Bolivia.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Bolivia

  1. Rural areas in Bolivia suffer higher rates of child poverty. People living outside urban areas have fewer opportunities for economic growth. Roughly three out of four residents of rural areas live in poverty. Higher poverty rates in rural areas mean families cannot adequately care for their children, intensifying child poverty rates. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “almost one-third of Bolivians living in rural areas cannot afford the cost of a basic food basket.” In rural children younger than 5, the stunting rate is almost 24%.
  2. Poverty directly links to the mortality rates of children younger than 5. Poverty-ridden conditions lead to diarrheal diseases, which account for 36% of the total deaths of Bolivian children younger than 5. Malnutrition accounts for about 28% of the total mortality rate for children in this age group.

  3. Many Bolivian children are out of school and involved in child labor. Roughly 13% of Bolivian children are not enrolled in school and about 26% of children are involved in child labor to provide an income for their families. Although primary education is compulsory, free and available to children between the ages of 6 and 13, attendance is low. Fortunately, Save the Children implements early childhood learning programs, early literacy programs and innovative training for educators. The organization educated 68,000 Bolivian children in 2020 alone and promotes education, sustainable income and food security to help fight child poverty in Bolivia.
  4. Bolivian children are vulnerable to exploitation and sexual abuse. “Bolivia has the highest rate of sexual violence in Latin America,” especially among children. Equality Now estimates that one in three Bolivian girls experiences violence of a sexual nature before reaching 18.  As a result, Bolivia has “the highest adolescent pregnancy rate in Latin America.” At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, A Breeze of Hope, a nonprofit that supports sexually abused children, received several calls from children who were stuck with their abusers during the lockdown.
  5. Indigenous Bolivian children face high levels of marginalization. Bolivia is home to the largest group of Indigenous people in Latin America.  Indigenous people often lack access to healthcare and education due to disparities in culture, language and location. Schools in Indigenous communities have few or no libraries and school materials. Indigenous children also face violence, food insecurity and inadequate access to sanitation.

Fighting Child Poverty in Bolivia

In addition to the efforts of Save the Children and A Breeze of Hope, the WFP directly assists the Bolivian government in combating malnutrition and food insecurity. Children Incorporated works with 14 projects in the Bolivian cities of La Paz, Sucre and Santa Cruz. The organization provides children with basic necessities and school materials. Additionally, Canadian Feed the Children provides more than 355,000 nutritious snacks and meals to Bolivian children annually. It also sponsors classes to educate parents on “healthy child development” and children’s rights. Although there are still challenges to overcome, significant work is being done to eradicate child poverty in Bolivia.

– Cory Utsey
Photo: Flickr

Uru People
For many years, Lake Poopo, Bolivia’s second-largest lake, has supported the Uru people, also known as the “people of the lake.” Large in size, the lake has always fluctuated, from a mere 1,000 square kilometers to over 3,500 square kilometers in its peak in the late 80s. With such a sizable resource, the Uru people were able to create a unique culture that enabled them to dominate the lakeshore and surrounding regions. In their culture, when two Uru would decide to marry, traditional customs called for the building of a “family of reeds” on Lake Poopo, surviving off what they could forage along the lakeshore. Fish, eggs and hunted birds supported the local populace, keeping the environment in a rich, harmonic relationship that the Uru people thought would last for their entire lifetimes.

This thought is now little more than a memory to Luis Valero, a local Uru community leader who remembers when his grandfather saw the Lake as sustaining him and his people for all of their lives. The memory is now slowly draining away as Lake Poopo suffers from human-accelerated pollution. It is leaving the waters dried up and the Uru people are floundering and grasping for anything to sustain them.

How Poverty Began

For generations, the Uru people lived off the bounty of the Lake, but after Lake Poopo dried up in 2015, things took a turn for the worse, forcing the Uru people to settle on what remains of a lakeshore. The Uru people survived largely from an independent lifestyle tin which they did not need to generate extraneous products for trade. The men would support their families through hunting and fishing while the women largely worked in small crafts and trades. Now, with Lake Poopo suffering from human-accelerated pollution, many of the local men, unable to sustain their families or entertain the possibility of one, leave and look for work elsewhere. The results of water diversion projects for farming have drained Lake Poopo of its vitality and accelerated the Uru people to poverty as more continue to face a new reality they did not anticipate.

Effects of a Global Pandemic

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only strained community bonds as the Uru people strive to replenish their cultural identity in the midst of deterioration. One of the consequences of the Lake’s accelerated pollution is the migration of cultural identity in the form of language. Speakers of the Uru-Cholo language have become less plentiful as young men, unable to find work around the lake as it dries up, explore opportunities outside the community in the mines and surrounding towns. This slow migration dissipates the community structure, leaving many women and men fighting to stay out of poverty. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed, though, as the Bolivian government has teamed up with local organizations in an effort to keep the Uru people’s language alive.

The Good News

Bolivia’s industrialization has created more wealth for the country and its workers. However, as more Bolivians have moved to the cities for opportunities working in salt and mineral mines, more pollution emerged. The level of pollution has deeply affected Lake Poopo and the surrounding shoreline communities of the Uru people, so when a severe drought in 2016 deeply depleted Lake Poopo of water, local volunteers banded together with one goal in mind: clean up the surviving lakes.

The humanitarian effort to clean the lakes drew hundreds of diligent volunteers from around the world, even attracting a French social media personality. Many people are hopeful the Lake can be improved, with some like local volunteer Magali Huarachi saying, “I think that if we all do our little bit, by picking up our garbage or coming to help here, then we are going to make this place beautiful in a while.” The Bolivian government is on their side, taking steps along with local organizations to continue preserving the community’s language to the Uru children through local teachers.

Alex Pinamang
Photo: Flickr

Empower Indigenous WomenAt the dawn of the 21st century, women entered the world of Bolivian professional wrestling for the first time. Known as the Flying Cholitas, this group is made up entirely of indigenous women from the city of El Alto. Encapsulating the revolutionary spirit of El Alto, the Flying Cholitas act as positive role models who empower indigenous women.

The City of El Alto

El Alto is the largest city in Latin America with an indigenous majority population. Throughout Bolivia’s history, El Alto and its cholitas have been known for their revolutionary spirit. The term “cholita” is derived from “chola,” a phrase used to refer to indigenous or mixed-race women in a derogatory manner. The word “cholita” is now used in a positive light when referring to indigenous women throughout Bolivia.

El Alto, situated on a mountain overlooking Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, laid siege to it in the 1700s. It did so again in 2003, during the Bolivian Gas War, which led to the ousting of then-president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. Afterward, the support of El Alto’s indigenous population saw the first indigenous president, Evo Morales, elected in 2005.

The indigenous population of Bolivia has fallen victim to various forms of institutionalized racism throughout history. They have been denied various civic services, such as the right to vote and the chance at higher education. However, during his time in office, Evo Morales opened government positions to cholitas. As a result, the indigenous women were enabled to play a role in drafting the new constitution. The Flying Cholitas empower indigenous women by embodying this revolutionary spirit of the everyday cholita, making them quite popular.

What is Cholita Wrestling?

When The Flying Cholitas first formed, they served as a novelty act to increase ticket sales for the male-dominated “Titans of the Ring.” Both the male and female acts draw heavily from Mexico’s professional wrestling, known as “lucha libre.” The use of signature moves, entrance music and the hero versus villain dynamic — known as “técnicas” and “rudas,” in this case — display the influence of this format. Fans often join in the fun by jeering and splashing water on “rudas” and cheering for the “técnicas.”

The uniqueness of the cholitas helps attract sizable crowds. The wrestlers’ clothing noticeably deviates from that of “lucha libre” and other professional wrestling formats. Instead of bikinis and spandex, The Flying Cholitas wear clothes similar to ones they wear in the streets and at home. In the ring, the wrestlers will commonly wear bowler hats, long braids, shawls and pleated skirts. Cholitas display these garments to show pride in their heritage and distinguish themselves from the pants-wearing, non-indigenous women.

To become a female wrestler, candidates must undergo a year of training before receiving their certificate. In addition to allowing them to fight, the certificate is a symbol of pride: proof that they can earn money through skill and hard work.

Gender in Bolivia

Bolivia has the highest rate of domestic and sexual abuse in Latin America. In 2015, 70% of women reported having faced some form of physical or psychological abuse. The lack of financial opportunities for women often causes them to stay in these harmful relationships.

The original Flying Cholitas were abuse victims who joined the sport as an outlet for their anger. Now, these wrestlers empower indigenous women in similar situations. The wrestling matches provide a public space to witness the strength of women, especially in mixed matches where women battle men. However, the cholitas had to fight outside of the ring as well to gain more equality in the sport.

When the Flying Cholitas first started wrestling, they were unpaid and barred from using the locker room. As their popularity grew, the female wrestlers gained greater autonomy. They formed the Association for Fighting Cholitas. This allows them to organize their fights and use the facilities. Furthermore, the Flying Cholitas are now paid for their work, around $20-$25 per match. This extra income helps the wrestlers put their children through school and grants them greater freedom from their husbands.

After 20 years, the popularity of the Flying Cholitas has spread, with hotels in the area offering packages that include tickets and transit to their shows. The Flying Cholitas even travel throughout Bolivia to bring their rowdy fights to the masses and empower indigenous women across the nation.

Overall, the Flying Cholitas are a powerful influence in changing the perception of indigenous women in Bolivia. Hopefully, this group will continue to have a significant impact in the coming years.

– Riley Behlke
Photo: Flickr

restorative dentistryLow-income countries have long been the victims of poor health care systems. Along with this health care system neglect has also come a large amount of dental care neglect. Both dental staffing and dental resources are scarce resources for those living below the poverty line in low-income countries. Smiles Forever is a nonprofit working within Bolivia in order to provide restorative dentistry as a way of increasing resources to a  population desperately in need.

Dental Care in Developing Countries

Most dental care within developing countries is given at hospitals that are either centralized or regional. This dental care does not do much to prevent or restore dental issues within the general population of a country. The dental care staffing is so low in many developing countries that trained dental professionals are forced to do the work that would normally be the job of dental assistants. This creates an ever-increasing cycle of dental worker unavailability. The creation of programs to train dental hygienists has been identified as a major solution to the extreme lack of restorative dentistry and dental care within struggling countries.

Major Dental Issues in Developing Countries

Throughout impoverished countries, there are a few dental issues that are seen most often and are in need of the greatest amount of restoration and prevention. These issues are dental caries, periodontal disease and tooth or gum abscesses.

  • Dental Caries: In simpler terms, this is when a tooth decays and leaves behind a cavity. Acids in the mouth that are present from sugar residue cause the enamel of a tooth to break down. Having access to simple dental materials like a toothbrush, floss and toothpaste greatly decreases an individual’s likelihood to develop dental caries. Fluoride provided at dental offices is also key in protection against dental caries.
  • Periodontal Disease: This disease is caused when there is a lot of plaque build-up on an individual’s teeth. The build-up causes an infection to infest the gums or bones throughout the face. Plaque build-up can only be properly removed by someone who has been training as a dental professional.
  • Tooth/Gum Abscesses: These are caused when tooth damage, usually from dental caries, allow for bacteria to invade a tooth or the gums. The bacteria causes pus to build up within the teeth or gums which causes a lot of pain and swelling. An abscess of this sort can only be treated by a professional and can cause sepsis if an individual is not given proper care.

The Mission of Smiles Forever

Smiles Forever is a nonprofit dental organization mainly working in Bolivia to provide free preventative and restorative dentistry. Its mission is to allow for a better quality of life, specifically for children growing up in Bolivia. Smiles Forever hopes that its work will act as a model for increased dental care in poor countries within South America.

Sandy Kemper, a dental hygienist from Seattle, is the founder of this nonprofit. She was inspired by a service trip that she took to Bolivia in 1999 in order to provide free dental work in the Madre de Dios shelter. A couple of years after her trip she returned to Cochabamba, Bolivia, in order to develop the Smiles Forever program after seeing how desperately in need the citizens were of restorative dentistry.

Programs Created by Smiles Forever

Smiles Forever has three main programs that it runs in Bolivia. These programs are its dental hygiene training program, its community partnering programs and its public fee-for-service clinic.

The dental hygiene training program was created in order to teach and train selected indigenous women to become dental hygienists. Each of the women is offered a full scholarship and the materials needed in order to become properly trained. The program is only conducted for half of each day so that the women can use the other half to support their families while being trained. Not only does this program allow for an increase in dental professionals in Bolivia but it also helps raise indigenous women and their families out of poverty by giving these women the opportunity to find full-time professional jobs.

The community partnering that Smiles Forever does is where a lot of its free dental work is provided. This organization works with other nonprofits throughout Bolivia that provide life-improving services. Through this partnering, it has been able to have a more widespread influence in providing dental care throughout Bolivia as its partners are very influential.

The public fee-for-service clinic was set up as a way to provide hands-on experience for individuals working in the dental hygiene training program and as a means of income to support the free community outreach efforts of the nonprofit. Individuals who attend the clinic pay in order to receive necessary preventative and restorative dentistry care.

Smiles Forever and Women’s Empowerment

Smiles Forever greatly supports the reduction of poverty and the provision of essential services through the uplifting of indigenous women. It recognizes that economic growth greatly increases when women play an empowered part in society. So far, 37 indigenous women have successfully completed the dental hygiene raining program and some have gone on to fully complete dental school. Overall, Smiles Forever has an all-around positive effect on the communities of Bolivia not only from a health standpoint but from a social and economic standpoint as a result of its efforts to empower women.

–  Olivia Bay
Photo: Flickr

Ending Poverty, Updates on the SDGs in BoliviaThe first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” and requires every nation to develop a comprehensive plan to address systemic problems that contribute to the creation of poverty. This requires international cooperation. Although the United States appears to be a likely ally in Bolivia’s effort to eradicate poverty and accomplish its SDGs, America’s relationship with Bolivia has historically been imperfect.

Background

In the 1970s, economists from the University of Chicago drove Bolivia’s economy into the ground with a series of free-market reforms that generated widespread poverty. More recently, the United States was accused of participating in a coup that led to the removal of President Evo Morales. Compared with less affluent nations, America’s disproportionate influence with the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is worrisome to less influential nations, like Bolivia.

Bolivian officials brought their criticisms of the language used to write the introduction and preamble of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals to the U.N.’s attention, and revisions were made. Their chief complaint was, “That the preamble and the introductory section of the proposed document are setting out a western and anthropocentric mindset of the world, reinforcing a mindset which has originated the current problems of the world for not achieving sustainable development.”

This called into question the U.N.’s ability, functioning as it currently does, to address the global poverty and environmental crises.

National SDG Progress in 2021

Every few years, a group of U.N. member nations volunteer to present their progress on SDG goals. In July 2021, Bolivia will be among four other nations to present for the first time during the U.N. High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This demonstrates Bolivia’s eagerness to cooperate with the U.N., despite stated differences in perspective and approach.

The first SDG goal will be emphasized by the forum, as well as goals 10, 12 and 13. These last three goals deal with issues related to ethnic diversity and environmental sustainability, which are at the forefront of Bolivia’s national development policy. Significantly, as a first-time presenter, Bolivia will have half an hour to present to the forum.

Rosa Vera Fund

As part of its updates on the first SDG goal in Bolivia to the United Nations, perhaps Bolivia will summarize the work done by the Rosa Vera Fund, which provides physical therapy to Bolivian children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and physical disabilities. Through physical therapy, the Rosa Vera Fund ultimately helps children with physical disabilities lead lives with greater economic independence. In the short term, the Rosa Vera Fund works with children during hours when their mothers are at work, thus freeing many Bolivian women from the obligation to take care of their children during the day. This program leads to immediate and long term benefits for Bolivian workers.

In partnership with the Consejo de Salud Rural Andino Montero, the Rosa Vera Fund was established in 2005. It provides essential care to approximately 60,000 patients in Montero. While its impact cannot be measured in rough trends, the Rosa Vera Fund has impacted thousands of Bolivians’ lives. Its work seeks to reduce poverty rates for Bolivians with physical disabilities, as well as poverty rates for the mothers of Bolivian children with physical disabilities.

Recently, the Rosa Vera Fund acknowledged that it faced obstacles when it delivered service to its clients because of widespread unrest in Montero after the removal of President Evo Morales. The updates about the SDGs in Bolivia indicate some of the historical precedents for political unrest in Bolivia.

Regardless of political strife, the Rosa Vera Fund is confident in the ongoing viability of its mission: “As future political changes unfold, we are confident that the Rosa Vera Fund will be able to weather the storm and just keep plugging along, doing what we do best: Provide medical care and social interventions for children with special health care needs, who have no other options.”

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in Bolivia
A disability can take many forms such as ones that impair the senses, inhibit daily routines or completely change one’s quality of life. Although many can be born with a disability, people in impoverished countries may face the issue of developing disabilities later in life due to disease and sickness that goes untreated because treatment is unaffordable. Whether the disability is physical or mental, having a disability can often correlate with future poverty due to difficulty in schooling and an inability to gain employment. Here is some information about disability and poverty in Bolivia.

The Correlation Between Disability and Poverty in Bolivia

In 2018, 10.6% of Bolivia’s population lived on $3.20 USD a day or less. With a population of over 11 million, a significant number of Bolivians live in poverty. Meanwhile, an estimated 15% have some type of disability.

The term disability is broad due to its application to either physical or mental problems; the 15% of the population covers both since mental and physical disabilities can affect labor force and schooling participation. Over 75% of those with a disability do not participate in schooling in Bolivia. Employers are hesitant to hire given the extensive training and exceptions necessary; a lack of schooling hurts hiring opportunities further. Those with disabilities face lacking or rejected health care and unforgiving employers, and others often misunderstand them in classrooms. Nonetheless, if they cannot find a job, a life in poverty is almost a guarantee. While impairments are quite a struggle individually, those who aim to care for their loved ones struggle too.

The Progress

The Bolivian education system introduced a project called Fe y Alegría Bolivia in 2012 geared towards helping special needs students by creating a more inclusive environment to influence greater school participation in the disabled community. The main issue with this project is funding. While the issue of funding can apply to almost any project, what is missing in the structure of the program is the socialization and conditioning to function not only in the classroom but in society as well.

For instance, as a social experiment, a program referred to as the Accelerated Benefits Demonstration and Evaluation Project emerged in the U.S. for disabled individuals from 2007 to 2009. It offered Medicare as well as counseling to create a smooth transition for disabled individuals into a working society. During its time, the project had notable successes by granting those with disabilities the ability to pay for necessities, a greater inclination to work and increased preparation to work. This project is an excellent model for countries like Bolivia.

Although the project occurred for only a short amount of time, the Accelerated Benefits Demonstration and Evaluation Project demonstrated positives that could apply to foreign countries like Bolivia. A program like this has the potential to significantly reduce the gap in labor participation and increase school attendance in a similar way. Preparing these individuals for daily work would greatly improve their ability to obtain employment, hopefully reducing the correlation between disability and poverty in Bolivia.

– Angela Munoz
Photo: Flickr

Femicide in Bolivia
Bolivia is a South American country with a population of more than 11 million people. Due in part to the prevalence of “machismo culture” that views women as property, violence against women is commonplace throughout the country. Femicide in Bolivia is a prevalent concern.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), femicide is the “intentional murder of women because they are women.” Men most commonly perpetrate violence against women, especially male relatives and partners, and this treatment typically follows both repeated physical and verbal abuse. Intimate femicide, when the perpetrator is a partner or relative of the victim, is the most common form. Estimates show that it causes over one-third of annual female murders around the world. These five facts about femicide in Bolivia show the extent of gender-based violence and how the government combats the problem.

5 Facts About Femicide in Bolivia

  1. Bolivia has the highest rate of femicide in South America. In 2018, the country had “two femicides for every 100,000 women.” The first six months of 2019 alone saw more than 60 reported murders of women, or one femicide every two days. The prevalence of femicide relates to overall high levels of abuse and domestic violence against women. In 2016, an estimated 70% of women had been victims of violence by their partners.
  2. There is a high degree of impunity for femicide. In 2016, a mere 4.7% of cases of violence against women made it to court and, of those, less than 5% were sentenced or closed. 206 cases of femicide reported over 23 months starting in 2013. However, in only eight did the court sentence the murderer for the crime.
  3. Women have mobilized against femicide by organizing marches in protest. One such march took place in La Paz in August 2019. Hundreds of Bolivians, including president Evo Morales, joined forces to call out the country’s patterns of violence against women.
  4. Bolivia implemented Law 348 to attempt to combat femicide. This 2013 measure is also called the Comprehensive Law to Guarantee Women a Life Free From Violence. It considers femicide a severe form of violence. The law imposes a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison for anyone convicted. Part of Law 348’s plan to eliminate femicide is a mandate for all levels of government to design and enforce policies specifically addressing gender-based violence. The law also demands that the victims and their families deserve justice.
  5. President Morales has made eliminating femicide a priority for the national government. In 2019, he proposed declaring femicide a crime against humanity and partnering with police and prosecutors to ensure the crime is taken seriously. The Morales administration created a cabinet comprised of multiple ministries to focus on crimes against women and children to curb gender-based violence. Additionally, Morales proposed a tax on fuel to help fund changes within the school system that would provide a learning environment with less gender bias and training teachers on recognizing the signs of violence.

While violence against women is common in the country, the government is taking the problem seriously. They are making many attempts to eliminate gendered violence. Many of the laws passed have proven difficult to enforce. However, Bolivia continues to combat femicide and societal norms that lead to such high rates of violence against women.

– Sydney Leiter
Photo: Pixabay