Selena Gomez and UNICEFAfter starting her career at age seven starring in “Barney and Friends,” Selena Gomez rose to fame in her most well-known role as Alex Russo on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Whether she is starring in shows on television or speaking out about the dangers of social media, Gomez often finds herself in front of the camera.  More recently, Selena Gomez and UNICEF have been working together to aid children in need.

In 2009, Gomez added UNICEF ambassador to her already decorated resume. She previously acted as a spokesperson for the organization for a year. At the age of 16, Gomez became the youngest UNICEF brand ambassador at that time. Together, Selena Gomez and UNICEF advocate for the world’s most vulnerable children by participating in campaigns, events and initiatives. “Every day, 25,000 children die from preventable causes. I stand with UNICEF in the belief that we can change that number from 25,000 to zero,” said Gomez.

Gomez in Ghana and Chile

In October 2009, one month after partnering with UNICEF, Gomez took a week-long trip to Ghana on behalf of the organization. This was an opportunity for the new ambassador to get a firsthand look at what the organization is all about. “My trip to Ghana was life-changing. I couldn’t believe the things I saw. They were so loving, compassionate and strong. Watching these kids fight for what they want was so inspirational,” said Gomez.

In 2016, when compared to adults, children were 40 percent more likely to live in poverty in Ghana. This number has increased significantly from the 1990s when it was only 15 percent. Over the past few years, Ghana’s economy has shown steady, positive growth and transformation, but clearly more needs to be addressed in regards to childhood poverty.

In February 2011, Gomez performed at a sold-out concert in the coastal city of Valparaiso in Chile. While there, Gomez met with some of the poorest Chilean women. Eighteen percent of children live in poverty in Chile; therefore, some children must work. Street children pose a large issue, especially indigenous children because they do not retain the same rights as other Chilean children.

Selena Gomez Turns to Fans for Support

In 2010, Gomez became the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF spokesperson. The Kids Helping Kids Ⓡ event raised nearly $177 million as of 2018. In August 2011, Gomez joined more than 70 musicians for the George Harrison Fund as part of UNICEF’s Month of Giving.

Gomez took to social media to share a personally recorded message with her fans encouraging them to support the effort. In total, the efforts raised $1.2 million for children in the Horn of Africa affected by famine and droughts. Gomez closed out 2011 by participating in 12 Days of UNICEF, an annual tradition in which individuals are able to purchase a life-saving gift in remembrance of a loved one for children in need.

Gomez has performed three charity concerts for UNICEF with all proceeds benefiting the U.S. fund for UNICEF. Her concerts have raised more than $200,000 for UNICEF. She teamed up with Rihanna, Robin Williams, Taylor Swift, Dwight Howard and Adrian Grenier to participate in UNICEF’s Tap Project Celebrity Tap campaign by bottling tap from her home and taking part in PSA’s on behalf of UNICEF’s clean water programs.

Gomez in the Sahel Region and Nepal

In April 2012, Gomez traveled to the Sahel region of West and Central Africa to advocate for the millions of children facing malnutrition. Furthermore, she took to the media and created a public service announcement encouraging donations for the Sahel. She also used her Twitter following to promote #SahelNOW to initiate conversation and prompt awareness. The United Nations recognized a 50 percent increase in hungry children in the Sahel region as more than 1.3 million children faced acute malnutrition in 2018.

While in Nepal in 2014, Gomez visited with children at the Satbariya Rapti Secondary School, female health volunteers in Gangaparaspur Village, female mediators in the Hapur village and watched a skit about sanitation in Gangaparaspur Village. Nearly half of the Nepalese population lives below the poverty line with children fighting for their lives each as their fundamental needs go unfulfilled.

“Nothing is more important than helping children in need around the globe. I’m thankful that I can use my voice to bring awareness and much-needed funds to UNICEF, so they can continue their critical work. Together, with my fans, we can save lives,” said Gomez. Thanks to Selena Gomez’s work, conditions are slowing improving for children around the world.

– Gwen Schemm
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Chile
Located on the western edge of South America, Chile is a densely populated country and home to as many as 18.05 million people. Unlike many other countries in Latin America, Chile has a relatively stable government, economy and society as a whole. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Chile are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Chile

  1. Being one of the most stable governments in the region, Chile is the Representative Democratic Republic in which the president is elected by a majority vote with a 40 percent voter turnout as of 2017. Michelle Bachelet has been the president since 2014. According to the OECD, 60 percent of Chileans feel like they have a say in what the government does. For comparison, only 33 percent of Venezuelans feel like they have a say in their government’s actions.
  2. Chile has the lowest level of corruption in Latin America and the country has a score of 67 out of 100 on the International Corruption Index, the highest score out of all other countries in Latin America  For comparison, Venezuela has a score of 18, lowest in the continent.
  3. Chile has an extremely stable economy. The GDP per capita stands at $24,000. The country earns $56.32 billion in exports and $56.86 billion in imports. China, the U.S. and Japan are Chile’s top three trading partners. The living cost for residents of Chile is very low, with an average of $939 of monthly living expenses.
  4. The Chilean government provides all citizens with access to free public health care through the Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA). However, hospitals tend to be overcrowded and urban areas such as the capital Santiago have better equipment than rural areas and smaller towns.
  5. Most Chileans have internet and telephone access. An estimated 73.9 percent of the population uses smartphones as of 2016, according to eMarketer. The Chilean government has recently implemented a tech visa allowing entrepreneurs to acquire a visa in just 15 days.
  6. The unemployment rate in Chile has dropped dramatically from 13.50 percent in 1986 to 6.7 percent in December 2018. The employment rate is at 55 percent and the average hourly wage is $7.27, which is also very high compared to Chile’s neighboring countries.
  7. Chilean women still struggle to attain equal rights. Although Chile has made progress in terms of electing a woman to the highest office in the country, women still earn about 25 percent less than men. In addition, Chilean women are encouraged to work caretaking jobs whereas men work industrial jobs such as engineering, electricity and construction. Ever since Michelle Bachelet has been in office, she has been working to advance women’s rights in Chile.
  8. According to UNICEF, 93.4 percent of males and 93.3 percent of females are enrolled in primary school, and overall, 98.9 percent of the youth in Chile are literate. A very high number or 86.4 percent of Chilean adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, though the graduation rate is decreasing, which could be due to economic factors such as needing to support their family at an earlier age.
  9. Over the last decade, climate change has damaged the quality of water in the country. Glaciers have acted as the main source of water supply to rivers, lakes and groundwater in dry regions, and warmer weather has caused glaciers to retreat. There has also been a decrease in ecosystems in Chile which has a negative effect on the quality and availability of drinking water.
  10. Since Chile is located on a tectonic plate boundary where there is a subduction zone, compressional deformation causes earthquakes and volcanoes. Frequent earthquakes wreck thousands of homes every year and damage the country’s infrastructure. In recent years, the Chilean government has been working to build earthquake-resistant buildings and have developed better modes of public communication to warn people of natural disasters.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Chile show that compared to many other countries in Latin America, Chile is considered progressive in terms of technology, government, economics and living conditions. Countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador struggle in terms of overall living conditions due to corrupt governments and failing infrastructures. Chile is continuing to progress regardless of its hazardous geographical location and state of its surrounding countries.

– Sara Devoe
Photo: Flickr

For decades, the Chilean government has worked hard to promote sustainable agricultural practices. These practices began through joint programs with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the 1980s, when both the government and farmers realized that growing organic crops will yield both better food products and higher profits as well.

The government also worked with the Government of the United States in buying more efficient and organic fertilizers and pesticides. Modern programs promoted by the Chilean government through their agricultural bureau have helped to grow the agriculture sector by about 3 percent in 2017, which was twice the growth of the nation’s GDP. By 2020, the Chilean government aims to be in the world’s top 10 list of food producers. Sustainable wine production in Chile will help them get there.

Wine Production in Chile

The agriculture sector in Chile employs about 800,000 people or just over 4 percent of the population. Out of the total agro-forestry exports, wine makes 2.9 percent. The majority of the wine production in Chile comes from small and medium-sized farms that are spread up and down the country. In 2009, Chile was ranked 5th in the world in wine exportation and 7th in wine production. This ranking has stayed relatively stable for the past decade.

Chilean wine is world renown for its quality. Because of this fact, it has also brought in much foreign investment and tourism. Modern-day investors see a stable and ever-growing market to invest in, while tourists see a beautiful country made better by great wine.

Wines of Chile

The secret of the wine production in Chile is two-fold. One is certainly the Chilean climate that helps to reduce the need for harmful pesticides since it is difficult for certain bacteria and molds to grow. The second is the government support of the sustainability code of the Chilean wine. The code that promotes sustainable wine production in Chile is given to the wine producers by a voluntary organization called Wines of Chile, that now has over 100,000 members. The organization provides uniform quality standards that wineries must meet to receive their stamps of approval.

Wine Standard

The organization Wines of Chile helps wineries organize sustainable wine production in Chile by providing resources to help them earn the standard. A winery can receive three stamps that form a circle when combined. The first stamp is green for the vineyard. To earn this stamp a winery must prove that it is using sustainable methods to both grow and harvest its grapes. The second is orange that accounts for social dimension. A company must show social equality at all levels. The third is red for the process of the winemaking itself. The process includes all facilities and processes for getting the wine to market, such as bottling.

There are a few powerful benefits for receiving three stamps of approval. The first one is that it increases the marketability of the wine. Organic and sustainable labels make the wine more attractive, especially abroad. The second is that the resources available to the wineries allow them to grow and become stable. The third one is that it is great for the environment, that, in the end, allows for better harvests and longer use of the land.

In 2017, Chilean wine exports to China were worth over $250 million and to the United States, total exports were at $246 million. In 2016, Chilean exports totaled $1.8 billion. As sustainable wine production in Chile continues to grow and becomes even more successful, it will surely help Chile reach the much-desired place in the top 10 list of world’s food producers.

– Nick DeMarco


Mapuche Oppression
An indigenous group of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, the Mapuche live in the heart of oppression. Despite a long history of war on culture and tradition, the Mapuche have remained dedicated to irreplaceable ancestral lands, recently taking to protests for expression against Mapuche oppression.

Enduring unforgiving Spanish colonialism and Pinochet’s dehumanizing regime of the late 1990s, the indigenous group fell under harsh marginalization, their resistance ultimately criminalized. Moreover, with deep-seeded enmity rooted in the expropriation of ancestral lands by big forestry corporations, the Mapuche now stand tall to defend their rights with no sign of giving up.

The Mapuche Are Vocal

The array of indigenous groups that populate the state of Chile make up about 10 percent of the national population. Small, in comparison, but these groups preserve what remains of the once prominent inhabitation of tribes that traversed the length of the country.

The Mapuche, being the largest of the remaining indigenous groups, remain relevant. From historical anecdotes detailing their resistance to the reign of the Incas and the invading Spaniards to their modern day revolution for justice, the Mapuche are neither silent nor invisible, but rather stoic warriors.

Desperate to literally strike gold, riches drove the Spanish into Chile — yet the Spaniards were never able to fully defeat the Mapuche presence in this area. Enter: modern day. Vocal and politically involved, the Mapuche struggle against oppression has led to national and international visibility.

Their Land is Their Livelihood

From the rebellion against the Spanish to modern-day protesting, Mapuche oppression has remained consistent. Victimized by violence and poverty, indigenous independence has been compromised, especially through the campaign know as “Pacification of the Araucanía Region.” This program was designed to legally integrate much of the Mapuche land into Chilean territory.

Without land – a fundamental foundation for cohesion and tradition – self-sustainability becomes almost impossible. Without self-sustainability, a vital encompassment of Mapuche identity, they had no other choice but to migrate to the urban populace, an unfortunate move to foreign scenery and lifestyles. Consequently, employment obstacles prompted poverty and, subsequently, the forced construction of informal housing settlements.

Mapuche oppression only escalated during the reign of dictator Augosto Pincohet. Under the “Law of Community Division,” devised by Pinochet himself, any remains of communal Mapuche land was rendered privatized. Wholehearted resistance to such targeted and deliberate injustice led to the disappearance of many indigenous peoples by the government.

With restored democracy, efforts have been made to mend the relationship between indigenous groups and the Chilean government. The establishment of CONADI, or the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena), and the reallocation of ancestral land for self-sustainability are steps in the right direction.

Mapuche Resistance: A Force To Be Reckoned With

Police occupation has heavily increased in Araucanía, a region dense with dwellers of Mapuche ancestry. The militarization of the region surfaces as a direct result of Mapuche defiance.

Recently, Mapuche resistance has taken to aggressive tactics. Determined to both reclaim ancestral lands and gain political sovereignty, the indigenous group has turned to direct action. The Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM), an anti-capitalist organization, is just but one part of the rebellion.

“The government practices and respects Catholicism but it discriminates against Mapuche spiritual beliefs,” an indigenous Mapuche stated. “The Mapuche have been impoverished spiritually, culturally and economically by Chile. I’m willing to sacrifice my life for my people.”

Mapuche Hope For Restoration Is Indestructible

Not looking for cushy legislation that holds no ground or legitimate benefit, the Mapuche simply request the return of autonomy to their populace and land. The citizens of Araucanía, the region with the worst poverty and unemployment rates in the country, have no intention of quieting down.

“When we recover lands we plant crops, breed animals and reconstruct our cultural world,” says Llaitul, a spokesperson for CAM. “We will build houses but our first priority is a spiritual center, the rewe.”

With tensions still thin, the center-left president Michelle Bachelet proposed a project to Congress: an Indigenous Peoples’ Ministry.

Furthermore, Bachelet proposed future dedication to infrastructure, including road construction, clean drinking water and programs to reallocate ancestral land back to the indigenous Mapuche.

“We’ve failed as a country,” Bachelet stated from La Moneda presidential palace in metropolitan Santiago. But, with Mapuche prowess, their dedication to full restoration is a force to be reckoned with.

– Mary Grace Miller
Photo: Flickr

Treat People With Kindness
Former One Direction band member Harry Styles, currently a solo singer, songwriter and actor, recently finished a nearly year-long tour for his debut album, “Harry Styles.” He toured across the globe, making nearly 90 stops including Paris, Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Mexico City. The tour took close to ten months to finish. At each of his concerts, Styles had a merchandise stand with products that bore his slogan “Treat People With Kindness.” All of the merchandise profits, as well as a portion of the ticket sales, went to various local charities from cities at his tour stops. His tour raised $1.2 million for 62 global charities. By supporting these global charities, Harry Styles sends a reminder to treat people with kindness. Here are several of the 62 global charities that Styles supported on his world tour:

The Munich Refugee Council: Munich, Germany

Styles’ concert in Munich supported the Munich Refugee Council, an organization that has been working for the rights of refugees in Munich and other cities. Their work includes sensitizing the public and politicians to the living situation of refugees and working with others for a more welcoming society. The council also operates a project called Infobus for Refugees, which provides native-language counseling on asylum procedures and prepares refugees for hearings before first admissions.

Help Refugees: London, England

Help Refugees is known as “one of the unsung heroes of the European refugee crisis.” By working with small but effective groups and organizations, Help Refugees responds where the need is greatest by providing food, clothing, shelter or funding. Some of the most needed items that the organization provides include socks, underwear, razors, blankets, kids shoes, rain ponchos and pants.  

The Melbourne City Mission: Melbourne, Australia

Styles also toured in multiple cities in Australia. One of the Australian charities he supported was the Melbourne City Mission, which offers many services to support those in need in Melbourne and Victoria. The mission is Victoria’s largest source of homelessness services for those under the age of 24.

The Hub: Hong Kong, China

The mission of Hong Kong’s The Hub is to “give children in our society who are experiencing difficult circumstances an equal opportunity to become valuable members of the community.” The Hub is a support center that provides educational support, extracurriculars, counseling and health services to those who are most in need. 

The Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty: Santiago, Chile

While touring in South America, Styles donated to a number of poverty charities, including The Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty in Santiago, Chile. This fund was established by the Government of Chile and the United Nations Development Program to combat hunger and poverty. 

Forgotten Harvest in Detroit, Michigan

Styles toured in nearly 20 cities in North America. While in Detroit, Styles supported Forgotten Harvest, an organization dedicated to relieving hunger in metro-Detroit while preventing food waste. In 2017, approximately 589,000 people faced food insecurity in metro-Detroit. Rather than have food wasted, Forgotten Harvest receives food donations from 800 businesses and 250 emergency food providers. In 2016, this added up to 45.8 million pounds of food donated to those in need instead of ending up in a landfill.

Harry Styles’ merchandise mantra “Treat People With Kindness” has many meanings behind it. Making an extra effort each day to treat others with kindness can make a world of difference, especially for marginalized and impoverished people who rarely experience it. 

After his final tour stop in Los Angeles last month, Harry Styles posted a photo on his Instagram with the caption, “Thank you for coming out to see us, it has been a pleasure playing for you all…Treat people with kindness. Goodbye for now. I love you all. H.”

– Ariane Komyati
Photo: Google

Facts About Human Rights in ChileChile was under an oppressive, military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. Gen. Augusto Pinochet ruled the country and used the failings of the last presidency as a justification for the regime. The dictatorship was characterized by the “disappearances” of thousands of suspected leftists in the earliest months of the regime.

Chilean courts are still prosecuting people for their abuses during the military rule. Many of the perpetrators of human rights offenses have faced reduced sentences. This has resulted in miniscule punishments in comparison to the crimes. Chile is still recovering from its period of military rule.

However, the Chilean people are demanding a change. As a result, legislation is reflecting the demands of its people.

Facts About Human Rights in Chile

  1. The government of Chile has been attempting to rectify past human rights violations from the time of the military period. In December 2015, the Ministry of the Interior’s human rights program announced that justice authorities are investigating 1,048 cases of human rights violations from the military period.
  2. Chilean prisons are filled past capacity. These institutions were functioning at a capacity of 103.2 percent in August of 2016. In some regions, prison capacity was exceeded by 200 percent. In October of that same year, the Santiago Sur Preventive Prison Center reached the volume of 5,057 prisoners, contrary to its maximum capacity of 2,384 inmates. In a 2017 report by the U.S. government, it was noted that the government was working toward a long-term effort to ameliorate this issue.
  3. Living conditions for children under the state are seeing improvement. The National Service for Minors (SENAME) has been under extreme scrutiny after the death of 34 children between January to June of 2016. In 2017, 171 SENAME centers were investigated. Out of 405 children questioned, 197 recounted their abuses. The government responded to the investigation by accelerating the processing of bills to improve the structure of the institution.
  4. Indigenous people still face discrimination. Throughout Chilean history, the Mapuche people have been discriminated against. President Bachelet has publically apologized for the affronts to the Mapuche by the government. Poverty levels have declined and government scholarships are increasing the Mapuche education rates. Furthermore, the government has offered land transfers and increased social spending on this historically mistreated group.
  5. There are still reports of the government using excessive force, especially on indigenous groups. Although the government has developed new ways to investigate and punish police corruption, excessive force and human rights offenses are still being done by the national police force (Carabineros de Chile). Lack of repatriation of ancestral land for the Mapuche people has resulted in years of violent protest. Mapuche activists have led numerous arson attacks as well as protests, targeting churches and logging equipment. The Carabineros as well as security forces have sometimes violently raided southern Chile. As a result, Mapuche arson leaders have been arrested.
  6. In November 2016, President Bachelet signed a bill into law that would change Chile’s criminal code. This bill modernized the nation’s criminal code to obey international standards on torture, cruelty, and inhumane treatment of its citizens. The Public Ministry reported that within the first months of this bill, reports of crimes against humanity rose to 193 percent. Most of these accounts involved groups such as the Carabineros.
  7. The nonprofit, Human Rights Watch, is concerned that the military courts are not yet completely transparent. Typically, Chilean civilian authorities have had control over the Carabineros and Investigative Police, and the government the as infrastructure in place to rectify abuses and prevent corruption. Yet, the military justice system handles these discrepancies. Recently, Human Rights Watch reported that these reports by the military courts may not be effective, and instead are riddled with corruption.
  8. The government of Chile has been rectifying relations with the indigenous communities. In June this year, the government declared its Plan for the Recognition and Development of Araucanía. The goals of this plan include economic development, protection of victims from violence, and the overall promotion of participation from indigenous people. President Bachelet has apologized to the Mapuche People for the wrongs they faced.
  9. The Chilean government has recognized nine distinct indigenous groups in the Law on Indigenous Peoples Protection and Development. The administration created a system to protect these mistreated groups. New services to provide social, cultural and economic development have been implemented.
  10. Chile now has laws against discrimination in the workplace. This law forbids employment discrimination centered on race, sex, civil status, religion, affiliation with a union, politics, disability, sexual orientation and many others. Furthermore, this law offers civil legal options to victims of employment discrimination. This past June, congress passed the Law on Workplace Inclusion, especially for disabled people. The government is doing a very good job at administering anti-discrimination laws. There is no evidence of police or judicial unwillingness to implement these laws. Sanctions have been given to companies denying maternity leave that has generally proven to be deterring violations.

Fighting years against an oppressive government, the future of Chile is looking up. Human rights issues are being acknowledged and global organizations are holding Chile accountable. These facts about human rights in Chile show areas that need improvement, as well as cases in which positive strides are being made. Cases of discrimination are being acknowledged and challenged, preventing the government and companies from continuing prejudice.

– Stefanie Babb

Photo: Flickr

poverty in Santiago










Santiago, Chile is a magnetic city that draws many people in because of the city’s alluring cultural life. Chile’s industry is mostly congregated in the Greater Santiago region.

Cultural Importance in Santiago

The industries consist of textiles, shoes, clothes, food products, copper mining and metallurgy have made this region prosperous. As a result, there has been a rise of a growing financial district known for its stock exchange and banking.

Even though Santiago is often viewed as an industrial hub, many in this prosperous city are left with little and struggle to survive. To recognize the needs of Santiago, here are 10 key facts about poverty in Santiago.

10 Key Facts About Poverty in Santiago

  1. Poverty rates are on the rise. Recent studies have shown a rise in the city’s poverty levels. Although Santiago remains below the national poverty rate of 15.2 percent, poverty in Santiago increased by about 1 percent between 2007 and 2010. Poverty levels grew by 1.4 percent, while the gap between the rich and poor dropped by 5.1 percent.
  2. Low-income families receive healthcare. Primary healthcare centers provide an array of services and are an essential part of the healthcare network. Preventative services are incentivized and the populations are divided into sectors to have a regular source of care. However, PHCs do not have sufficient resources.
  3. Water is commodified. Millions of people are left without water and warning for several days. Privatization of water was established in 1981 under General Pinochet. Grievances with the commodification of water has been exacerbated by the growing loom of climate change and the ultimate disappearance of the glaciers.
  4. Health education is lacking. Health education is lacking and many of the city’s poorest residents develop preventable diseases as a result. Addison Williams, an aid volunteer, noted the inadequate health education and stated the resulting conditions present. Preventable diseases that often plague animals are common among the children that play on the street. The CDC reported that Chagas disease is a great risk for those living in “poor-quality housing.” Although no vaccines or drugs can prevent the infection, better housing conditions, bed nets, and residual-action insecticides are effective preventative measures.
  5. Government implemented ‘Operation Site’ to alleviate housing inequalities. The population of Santiago doubled between 1940 and 1960, resulting in a housing crisis. The Ministry of Housing was established in 1965, and soon began to implement ‘Operation Site,’ which offered land to the residents. The system did not have clear guidelines, nor clear initiatives. Some families were given a wooden house, while others were given electricity and running water but no house. Today, the consequences of ‘Operation Site’ remain unclear and debated. Opponents say that the poor were social segregated. However, the results have been largely beneficial for those living in the government-sponsored spots.
  6. The poorest families live in a campomento. A campomento, or shanty town, exists because of abrupt growth in urban areas. In the campomento, poverty in Santiago is evident and the city’s poorest residents have found a home. The communities are often surrounded by trash and homes are constructed from remaining wood and doors that had been disposed of prior. Roofs are fabricated by metal scrapped sheets found within the dumps. There are no floors. Instead the residents of the campomento use rugs to cover the dirt.
  7. Santiago’s rich and poor are divided. The wealthiest part of the city, northeastern Santiago, is a stark contrast to the poorest areas in the south and northwestern parts. Centers of culture are congregated at the center of the city. Shopping malls and new cultural buildings are being placed in already high-income parts of the city. In the south, where poverty in Santiago is evident, important buildings, like high schools, are being underdeveloped. Instead, these regions are known for landfills and jails. Luis Valenzuela, Universidad Católica’s Observatory of Cities executive director, believes that parks could be used as a tool to improve low-income areas.
  8. The average salary is $861. The industrial and financial center of Chile, Santiago generates 45 percent of the country’s GDP. Job prospects have been high, and the economy has seen growth; however, the average salary is just $861.
  9. Average education for Heads of Household is nine years. In some of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods of Santiago, such as Lo Espejo, only one out of five youths have access to higher education. Moreover, the average family’s head of household has only reached nine years of education. Many students do not place much of an importance on education; instead, many often turn to illegal activities. Andrew Ireland, worked for a semester in Centro Abierto Santa Adriana (CASA). The organization has sought to keep children enrolled in school. CASA has provided a place for community children to stay during the day when they were not at school. The organization has proven successful in offering a safe place to study and for the children to stay out of trouble.
  10. UNESCO Santiago attended an Assessment for Global Learning. A World Bank Symposium compiled an array of experts to develop tools and approaches to monitor learning. UNESCO Santiago was in attendance, a clear indication that change in Santiago’s education is necessary. The symposium dealt with various questions about measuring learning and how governments can utilize these tools.

Aid groups, such as the Chilean Red Cross have implemented tactics to improve healthcare in Santiago. They are trained to respond to epidemic controls, as well as promoting healthcare education and preventing diseases. Among the highest of the International Federation of Red Cross’s goals is fostering community empowerment.

– Stefanie Babb
Photo: Flickr

women’s rights in Chile
President Michelle Bachelet of Chile leaves office in March 2018. During her two terms as president, Bachelet worked tirelessly to advance women’s rights in Chile. She leaves a legacy of legislative victories in the fight for gender equality.

Bachelet entered government as an advisor in the Health Ministry. She served as Chile’s first female health minister in 2002 and its first female defense minister in 2002. She became Chile’s president in 2006. Her victory depended on the support of women — Bachelet’s victory was the first time a majority of women in Chile supported a left-of-center presidential candidate.


Time in Office

During her first term as president, Bachelet championed legislation to further women’s rights in Chile. She passed protections for victims of domestic violence, fought workplace discrimination, reformed the pension system to be fairer to women, gave low-income mothers better access to childcare and introduced universal access to emergency contraception. 

Chile’s conservative governing coalition strongly opposed Bachelet’s plan to expand availability of emergency contraception. Bachelet avoided Congress by issuing executive orders to mandate that public clinics offer free emergency contraception. Her conservative congressional challengers won an appeal in the Constitutional Court, causing Bachelet to instead pursue legislative approval. The bill was popular with the public and supported through mass demonstrations against the court’s ruling. Bolstered by public approval, Bachelet fast-tracked the bill and it was approved in 2010. 


Between Presidencies

Bachelet left office in 2010, unable to run for a second consecutive term due to constitutional limitations. She became the first Executive Director of the newly created U.N. Women. As the head of the organization, Bachelet worked to realize U.N. Women’s agenda — ending violence against women, economically empowering women, including women in global peace and security planning, increasing the number of women in leadership positions and influencing countries to focus national policies and budgets on increasing gender equity.


Return to Politics

Bachelet then returned to politics, winning a second term as president of Chile in 2013. In her second term, Bachelet created the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality. She also passed legislation requiring that women make up 40 percent of candidates running for an elected office.

In 2017, the Constitutional Court of Chile ruled in favor of a reproductive rights bill introduced by Bachelet. The bill legalizes abortions in extreme cases — abortions were previously illegal in all instances. Bachelet’s bill was bolstered by public support — 70 percent of Chileans approved of the legislation.


A Strong Legacy and Continued Impact

After exiting office in March 2018, Bachelet will start as Board Chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health where she will continue to advocate for women’s rights in Chile.

“Promoting progress towards building a more equitable and just world, that guarantees the rights of women and girls, is more than a challenge,” says Bachelet. “It’s a necessity and an obligation.”

 – Katherine Parks

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in ChileLatin America is notorious for having poor water quality. Worried travelers and residents try to avoid drinking tap water or cooking with it. But most people do not know the facts about the water quality in Chile. Here are a few from the north of the country all the way to its southern tip.

In northern Chile is the Atacama Desert, which is known as one of the driest places on Earth. This area, which contains many small towns and villages, receives about one millimeter or less of rainfall per year. Certain towns used to obtain water from a nearby well which was fed by a river flowing down from the Andes Mountains. However, out of the 20 wells, only one exists today. It is common for people here to buy bottled water; however, bottled water is nearly 10 times the cost of tap water.

Central Chile is where most of the bigger cities are located, and Santiago, the capital, is one of them. Very little water comes from the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are retreating and the mountains are gradually losing their snow-capped peaks. Water availability is predicted to fall by nearly 40 percent by 2070, and experts are claiming that water will become the most important physical commodity worldwide, toppling oil and precious metals. The situation in Santiago is so bad that residents have staged multiple protests over the privatization of the water industry, which occurred in 1981.

Maybe the most iconic area of the country is Patagonia, in the southern portion of the country. Residents, researchers and travelers flock to this sparsely populated region of Chile. Some American and Chilean scientists claim that the Chilean Patagonia has the purest water on the planet. Dr. Guido F. Verbeck, director of the UNT Laboratory of Imaging Mass Spectrometry, said of Patagonia’s water, “Our results confirm that these waters are clean, the cleanest waters existing on the planet. In fact, the instruments we use to study the samples can detect chemical compounds in the water up to two parts per million, and here, we did not detect anything.” There is very little pollution in this part of the world. Unpolluted freshwater accounts for .003 percent of the total water available globally, and most of it is found here.

There are many issues with the water quality in Chile. From pollution and overpopulation to excessive mining and the draining of natural resources, it could be the reason that selling water in some cities is one of the highest tariffs in Latin America. There is some good news regarding the water quality in Chile, however. More wells have been dug, residents have set up reverse osmosis water purification systems and the country is implementing a national irrigation strategy that includes a plan to construct 15 reservoirs. If Chile continues to be proactive about maintaining its water resources, it can ensure good water quality and access for all of its citizens.

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Chile's Level of Poverty

The number of people living below the national poverty line in Chile has varied throughout the years. This number currently stands at around three million citizens, whereas the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day has successfully reached its lowest point of 0.9 percent of the population.

Clearly, Chile’s level of poverty has fluctuated, especially seeing as how Chile was once considered to be one of the richest countries in Latin America. During this time, the country achieved the title of the first South American member of the OECD, a club mostly consisting of prosperous countries.

Poverty in Chile is often overlooked due to the lack of social equality, according to human rights expert Professor Philip Alton. While Chile’s anti-poverty programs are abundant, the middle class seems to be their primary focus, and those who are less fortunate are overlooked.

Alton calls attention to Chile’s tendency to participate in the exclusion of particular groups of people, contributing to its issue of poverty. According to Alton, “Efforts to eliminate extreme poverty in Chile cannot succeed without a concerted focus on the situation of indigenous peoples.” As with many other countries, the solution to ending poverty in Chile relies partly on spreading awareness of marginalization and privilege, as well as giving the lower class more attention and tools for success and not merely focusing on the middle class.

To put these solutions into action, the General Law of Ministries – now known as the Ministry of Finance, which formed in 1927 – has developed plans based on the roots of Chile’s level of poverty. The Ministry of Finance’s goal is to focus on long-term economic growth, rather than simply tending to the “right now.” Its mission is to create a stable economy that benefits all citizens of Chile, but especially those who are most likely to struggle with money.

The economic policy section of the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the awareness of problems within Chile’s economic system, as well as providing solutions to these issues. This helps them to prepare the national budget and contributes to bettering the community socially.

With the implementation of these kinds of plans as well as spreading awareness of poverty-causing issues, there is much hope for the poorest citizens of Chile. A better economy in Chile’s near future is looking to be promising, which will surely have positive effects on the poverty rate as well.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr