Children in Ecuador
Although Ecuador’s poverty rate has been steadily decreasing over the past two decades, children still suffer from malnutrition, lack of education, lack of healthcare and other deprivations. Cyclical poverty not only reduces the opportunities to become successful later in life, but it also makes children vulnerable to other domestic and social abuses like physical punishment and bullying. Fortunately, these three organizations are helping to support children in Ecuador, who often face neglect.

3 Organizations Helping Children in Ecuador

  1. United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children International: United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children International (UBECI) is a non-profit organization based in the capital of Ecuador. The organization has been working to support children in the markets of southern Quito since 1999. They create opportunities for children to develop their emotional, physical and social needs through recreational and educational engagements. UBECI fights for reduced working hours for children in the markets and helps them in school from primary enrollment to university. During this educative period, UBECI teaches social skills to the children to better integrate within society and spreads health education that will lead to a safer lifestyle. They emphasize “children’s rights to an education, right to lead a healthy life, and the right to an identity.” Through working directly with children living on the streets, UBECI touches the lives of more than 350 students, every school year and more than 600 during the summer. Therefore, the amount of youth the organization reaches per calendar year totals 1,770.
  2. Consortium for Street Children: Consortium for Street Children is a global charity that unites organizations dedicated to helping “street children,” through an international alliance. The alliance raises the voices of neglected children to the United Nations and engages directly with children on the streets. They currently have two projects protecting children in Ecuador. The Keeping Street-Connected Children Safe project, in collaboration with Red Nose Day USA, funds “innovative direct-service delivery projects” to support children in Africa, Asia and South America (including Ecuador). Their 2020–2021 grant will be tailored specifically to the new needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project, Building with Bamboo, was an explorative initiative whose goal was to learn how to implement a “resilience-based approach” to support street children, victims of sexual abuse and exploitation in Ecuador, Uganda and Nepal. The experience was shared within the Consortium for Street Children community to further the success of future projects.
  3. Children International: Children International is a charity that works to raise children out of poverty in 10 countries around the world. They have individualized four distinct problems regarding children in Ecuador. One, fight malnutrition; the organization started a Family Vegetable Gardens program to teach children and families about healthy diets. Also, this initiative helps to provide a steady income for their work within the garden. Two, tackle generational poverty; the organization teaches participants valuable skills to prepare for a more successful future. For instance, how to save money and be a responsible citizen. Three, lower the unemployment rate; the organization provides job training and hiring opportunities for teenagers. Four, make education more accessible; the charity community organized a tutoring system in which older students help younger children in Ecuador with math and language skills. Children International can do this through donations from the public and connecting needy children with willing sponsors abroad.

Efforts Must Continue

More than 40% of children in Ecuador live in poverty. Organizations like United to Benefit Ecuadorian Children International, Consortium for Street Children and Children International, however — ensure that future generations will have the tools to improve such statistics. Through breaking free from the cycle of poverty, children in Ecuador can capture a better life for themselves and future generations.

– Margherita Bassi
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Ecuador
Ecuador is a country located in Western South America and lies between Colombia and Peru. The country has struggled with political instability and experienced economic crises throughout its history. In 2017, an estimate of 21.5% of the population still lived below the poverty line. However, recent economic growth does leave a glimmer of hope for the alleviation of poverty in Ecuador. Here are five facts about poverty in Ecuador.

5 Facts About Poverty in Ecuador

  1. The incidence of poverty is higher in indigenous populations. As ethnic minorities and indigenous populations mainly work and live in the rural sector, they are the ones who poverty and income inequality mostly affects. There are approximately 1.1 million indigenous people in Ecuador. When looking at Ecuador’s geographical breakdown — 24.1% reside in the Amazon, 7.3% in the Southern Mountains, 8.3% in the Coastal region and on the Galapagos Islands and 60.3% reside in the Central-North Mountains’ six provinces. Among the population in the Central-North Mountains region, 87.5% continue to reside in the rural areas. According to the data from 2007 by ENEMDU, Ecuadorians experienced an ethnic wage gap of a staggering 44.9%. Those who work in the agricultural sector also have the lowest financial return — earning 30% less in their hourly wages than those who work in the informal sector.
  2. The government has made efforts to resolve economic issues and alleviate poverty. During the economic instability of 1999–2000, the government created multiple reforms to resolve these issues. For example, it established the U.S. dollar as a legal currency in 2001. This eventually stimulated change and brought stability to the economy. The government also developed national programs to alleviate issues surrounding poverty and further increased funding. Additionally, it facilitated access to quality education and healthcare by arranging cash transfer programs that mandated Ecuadorians educate their children and provide them with regular medical care if they wanted to participate in the program.
  3. The value of oil causes fluctuations in Ecuador’s economic stability. As oil is one of Ecuador’s main exports, it reveals how dependent Ecuador’s economy is on the availability and value of these natural resources. The oil boom of the early 2000s gave the government incentive to expand poverty alleviating programs, raise the minimum wage and increase social security benefits. However, as the price of oil began to deteriorate in 2014,  poverty rates in Ecuador surged once again and led to an economic recession in 2016. The GDP (gross domestic product) growth in annual percentage plummeted from 7.87% in 2011 to -1.23% in 2016.
  4. Ecuador has been experiencing relative economic growth in recent years. Beginning in 2016, the GDP growth in the annual percentage rose to 2.37% in 2017 and remained in the positive margins at 0.05% in 2019. Another perspective is that the GDP per capita rose from $6,100 in 2016 to $6,200 in 2019. Furthermore, the GNI (gross national income) per capita calculated using the Atlas method, rose from $5,800 in 2016 to $6,100 in 2019. With these numerical facts about poverty in Ecuador, the situation appears to be moving in a positive direction.
  5. FEVI Ecuador is an NGO group that is working to alleviate poverty in Ecuador. FEVI Ecuador is a locally managed NGO (non-governmental organization) committed to building up intercultural education and social development projects that assist native communities. The organization is an accredited, full member of the UNESCO Coordinating Committee for International Volunteer Service, Mesa de Voluntariado and even received the appointment as the Latin American representative for CCIVS organizations in Latin America. Some examples of the various projects that the NGO partakes in – the organization has established a child care center, various schools, a health center and an elderly people center. At the “Muñequitos¨ FEVI Child Care Center in Lumbisi, the volunteers help the teachers and mothers in caring, educating and entertaining the 60 preschoolers in the community. This community of course comprises of the indigenous population. The volunteers also help at “El Comedor,” or the dining hall, by preparing food and providing activities for the elderly. Furthermore, FEVI Ecuador established a community health center for low-income populations in Cumbaya — where volunteers assist the medical professionals who are serving the native community. Finally, FEVI Ecuador volunteers work at the elementary school in the Cotacachi and Tonsupa communities with 160 students at each school, respectively.

A Positive Outlook

Despite the economic challenges that Ecuadorians faced in the past, the statistics reveal hope for the country in the years to come. The GDP and GNI have both increased over the years with the help of government reforms and the resilience of the Ecuadorian people, despite the economic instability in the past few decades and the recession in 2016. Although indigenous people in Ecuador continue to experience a significant impact from the ethnic wage gap, many volunteers have partnered with NGOs to alleviate the symptoms of poverty. With the tremendous efforts of the local government and the international community’s continuous support in alleviating poverty in Ecuador — there may come a day when Ecuador captures its freedom from devastating financial burdens.

San Sung Kim
Photo: Flickr

Corruption in EcuadorEcuador is a country that faces a multitude of pervasive problems. One such problem is the high rate of corruption taking place within the country. According to Transparency International, Ecuador ranked 93rd out of 180 countries for corruption. On top of that, former President Rafael Correa of Ecuador was convicted of corruption in April 2020.

Corruption’s Impact on the Poor

Corruption has a widespread impact on many different social classes. However, corruption disproportionately impacts those in poverty. Money that could be used to help provide public services to the people who need it has been lost due to corruption. Money that the U.N. provides to impoverished nations has been wasted by corrupt governments as well.

While corruption in Ecuador is a serious problem, the Ecuadorian citizenry has been vocal about corruption through their voting behavior. Various international organizations have also attempted to prevent corruption in Ecuador alongside current President Lenín Moreno.

The International Republican Institute (IRI)

The IRI has offered to lend a helping hand in the fight against corruption in Ecuador. One way that the IRI has helped Ecuador is through its Vulnerabilities to Corruption Approach (VCA). The IRI has used the VCA to help Ecuadorian municipalities make their local authorities more transparent with their citizenry and shifted their focus to important anti-corruption issues. The IRI initiated the VCA in Cuenca, Ecuador, as well as four other cities. The reason for this approach is that these cities have a more serious corruption problem compared to others in Ecuador. At the national Local Transparent Governments Conference, the leader of Cuenca, Ecuador’s anti-corruption unit, shared different methods used for preventing corruption with more than 150 different nationally and locally elected officials.

Changes Within the Government

The people of Ecuador have also tried to stop corruption by voting for new candidates. The 2019 local elections throughout Ecuador brought forth a great amount of change because of this. This is abundantly obvious considering that many of the candidates that were voted for in the local elections came from third parties or were entirely new to Ecuadorian politics. This is why many of them attended the Local Transparent Governments Conference. These candidates simply did not know or have the experience needed to identify corruption or prevent it.

Current President Moreno has also made efforts to reduce corruption in Ecuador. One example of this was the conviction of the former vice president for accepting bribes that amount to $13.5 million. Convictions like this are only possible because President Moreno has allowed high-level corruption cases to be investigated.

Due to the help of the IRI, the votes of the Ecuadorian people and actions within the government, the people of Ecuador are making strides to reduce corruption within their country.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Ecuador during the COVID-19 pandemicEcuador is a mostly Spanish-speaking nation in South America with a population of about 17 million people. Despite its recent successes in decreasing poverty levels, parts of Ecuador still struggle with the effects of low-income living. One of the country’s greatest challenges is malnutrition, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce hunger in Ecuador in the time of the coronavirus. 

Present-day Challenges

Since the enactment of a lockdown, hunger in Ecuador is increasing for many reasons. Namely, the price of domestic food products has increased due to the shortage of goods being grown and produced. Therefore, access to adequate food supply has decreased. As a result, many Ecuadorians lack food security and are struggling to adhere to healthy diets. People with disabilities face additional challenges. They can receive emergency food vouchers provided by the government, but the vouchers do not last more than a few days. The vouchers are also not being provided to over 20% of the population with disabilities. Many Ecuadorians with disabilities and Ecuadorians in general, continue working despite the risk of contracting COVID-19 because that is their only form of income. Those who are unable to work face starvation.

Additionally, a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) details concerns about hunger in Ecuador and other Latin American countries in relation to the pandemic. Major concerns for these countries include increased unemployment rates, which could negatively impact families that already struggle with food insecurity. Additionally, these unemployment rates are predicted to force 16 million of all Latin Americans into extreme poverty. Those who were able to afford nutritious meals before the pandemic will have to resort to less nutritious food: if they are able to find food at all. Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s executive secretary, worries that the pandemic will cause a food crisis if interventions aren’t implemented quickly and successfully. 

The Good News

Despite COVID-19’s significant impact on hunger in Ecuador, there is some positive news regarding overall poverty in Ecuador. Although Ecuador is a hotspot for natural disasters, which can destroy crops, the World Food Programme (WFP) works with the Ecuadorian government to prepare citizens for natural disasters before they happen. Specifically, Ecuador’s Secretariat of Risk Management and National Decentralized Risk Management System work with the WFP to calculate how natural disasters have affected food supply so they can learn from past crises. Vulnerable Ecuadorians can attend workshops to learn about emergency preparedness and how to protect their crops. The workshops also provide training sessions about better eating habits on a low budget. With these calculations and workshops, Ecuador can be more prepared for the next crisis. 

Another hunger-relief organization is Banco de Alimento Diakonía, a food bank that works solely to reduce hunger in Ecuador. Its slogan is “Barrigas contentas, corazones llenos,” which translates to “Happy bellies, full hearts.” The food bank’s threefold mission is to reduce hunger, improve nutrition and decrease food waste; the food bank accepts donations in the forms of money and non-perishable foods. Since 2015, Banco de Alimento Diakonía has been a certified member of the Global FoodBanking Network, and it has helped an estimated 16,200 people get access to nutritious food. Fortunately, the food bank is continuing to provide aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed economies and ways of life in every country around the globe. It will undoubtedly have long-lasting effects on poverty, such as the prevalence of hunger in Ecuador. However, citizens and governments can be more prepared for the next time a crisis comes along. With food banks, workshops and the right preparations, nations like Ecuador can recover from disasters and emerge with new tools to overcome the next challenge.  

 

Levi Reyes
Photo: Unsplash

sanitation in Ecuador
Located at the western top of South America, Ecuador has improved water regulation and overall sanitation within the last couple of decades. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Ecuador.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Ecuador

  1. Before 2007, organic loads, toxic substances and hydrocarbons contaminated large bodies of water. Ecuador’s government devised a plan to increase overall healthy water flow. The plan consisted of using financial support to create sustainable water management. The lack of healthy water flow led to the exploitation of aquifers on Ecuador’s coast, which melted approximately 33% of the country’s glaciers. Moreover, the lack of water flow led to a reduction of at least 25% of Paramos’ regular water flow, which is a historical area. The improvement of water sustainability allowed Ecuador’s people to access healthy water easily.
  2. In 2019, Ecuador received an $87 million loan from the U.S. to improve water regulation. The loan from the U.S. allowed Ecuador’s government to expand and improve drinking systems. Ecuador has directed the loan towards the achievement of universal access to piped sanitation services.
  3. The country created a National Development Plan in 2007 which prioritized the integration of water management. Many saw Ecuador’s lack of easy access to clean water and sanitation as a detrimental factor that slowed the development of the country’s sustainability. The National Development Plan encouraged a more developed culture for Ecuador’s sanitation. One main goal was to build 1.5 kilometers of sewage networks in Quitumbe and 26 kilometers of interceptors for wastewater management in Checa and la Merced.
  4. Ecuador’s national sectoral strategy established that the country should reach equitable access to potable Water and Sanitation Services by 2030. In the national sectoral strategy, the country strived to divide loans into different sections with regards to water management. As a result, vast improvement has occurred in the country’s economy. In July 2019, approximately 39,197 additional citizens in urban areas obtained new access to improved sanitation services.
  5. The government’s new project hopes to achieve country-wide access to piped sanitation services. The Guayaquil Wastewater Management Project for Ecuador aims to install wastewater catch basins of the urban cities such as Guayaquil. As a result, 2 million citizens will gain access to proper sanitation. Ecuador’s government hopes to ensure that 100% of the wastewater within these basins receive treatment in an environmentally sustainable way.
  6. Currently, 93% of Ecuador has access to basic drinking water. Ever since 2007, there has been more focus on safely managing sanitation services as well as water waste treatment. Due to the implementation of basic sanitation needs in Ecuador’s sustainability plan, improvement is evident within urban and rural areas throughout the country.
  7. Ecuador upgraded and amplified the sewage system and sanitation networks throughout municipalities in Quitumbe, Checa and La Merced. By building several drinking water treatment plants, the government and local workers introduced 39 kilometers of raw water transmission lines from natural reservoirs. Within agricultural systems, Ecuador also installed and put over 400 flow meters for larger consumers. Installing hundreds of flow meters allow farmers and other agricultural workers to maintain and limit the amount of water needed for efficient agriculture.
  8. Ecuador’s improvement within sanitation allowed basic water regulation within schools to improve immensely. Before, numerous schools lacked access to clean sanitation, flushing water and dry toilets. The government’s development plan focused on nationwide sanitation, which involved the implementation of basic water and clean sanitation to just under 7,000 students.
  9. The overall share of people living in poverty in Ecuador has dropped to roughly 4%. Compared to 1998, the poverty line has dropped significantly. Approximately 10% of Ecuador’s population lived in poverty in the late 1900s. Today, only 4% of the population lives in poverty.
  10. Awareness of female sanitation has increased in the last decade. In 2015, the government responded to a higher demand for easier access to female products. Female products such as towels (pads), tampons and pantyliners are more easily accessible in grocery stores within urban and rural areas.

Throughout the last decade, sanitation and easier access to water has increased immensely. While sanitation within the country has improved, with over 90% of the country having access to clean water, the government hopes to close the entire gap and provide accessible water for the country as a whole by 2030.

– Elisabeth Balicanta 
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mental Health in Ecuador
One of the numerous factors spurred by poverty is mental illness. In many developing countries, those who are mentally ill face ostracization and a lack of support from health care providers. Mental illness may cause substance abuse, which can create further mental issues that prevent those who are ill from seeking assistance. Additionally, people who are mentally ill and abuse drugs in countries or areas where gang activity is common are much more likely to join criminal groups and further exacerbate the prevalence of gang-related violence. Ecuador is no exception to these symptoms. 

Government-funded health care provisions have largely overlooked mental health in Ecuador. Policy regarding mental health does exist, but the provisions are outdated and only 10 percent of the policy’s original content was put into action. Additionally, the policy’s provisions receive no regular public funding, even though much of Ecuador’s health care infrastructure is dependent on public funds. 

The Stigma of Mental Illness

The mental health policies do allow health care institutions to treat those who are mentally ill, however, mental health typically receives less attention than other sectors of health care. The lack of attention towards mentally ill people links back to the social perception of mental illness in Ecuador. People in many developing countries often consider seeking medical assistance for mental issues wrong. People who do not have a mental illness may find it difficult to understand what it is like to live with one. Many ill people do not seek treatment due to stigma and explore alternative methods, such as drugs, to cope with their problems instead. 

Many developing countries have only recently established mental health awareness. In the United States, social stigma still exists to an extent. However, the U.S. has established facilities to adequately treat the mentally ill. That is not the case in many developing countries. In numerous Ecuadorian provinces, people do not treat mental health institutions as primary facilities. Mental health is classified as a primary health care concern under Ecuadorian law, but only 25 percent of the population has access to these services. 

Progress In Mental Health

However, Ecuador is making progress. Rather than focusing on directly funding mental health institutions, the Ecuadorian government is beginning to direct attention to community-based solutions. Trained nurses diagnose mental illness and must make a referral to a primary source of care. Even so, a large portion of the mentally ill in Ecuador does not receive diagnosis or treatment. Groups like McLean Hospital are working to educate Ecuadorians at the university level, as well as at the community level. McLean Hospital believes that the most important step is to educate the public on the truth behind mental illness. Education can drive Ecuador’s perception of mental illness from one of stigma to acceptance and treatment.

Crime in Latin America is a dire issue that pushes millions out of their homes and their countries. By improving the mental health situation in Ecuador, there would likely be a large decrease in gang-related and drug activities. As a direct result, those who are mentally ill would receive adequate treatment and experience a much higher quality of life through the support from their community and health care.

– Graham Gordon
Photo: Wikimedia

global citizen year
In 2008, after winning first place at the Harvard Business School’s Pitch for Change competition, Stanford graduate and aspiring social entrepreneur Abigail Falik established the cultural immersion gap-year program, Global Citizen Year. Falik became inspired to create an opportunity for service available for all rising college freshmen.

Global Citizen Year in Ecuador

As a developing country, Ecuador faces a significant economic strain, especially in its more rural areas. It ranks as the fourth poorest country in South America with a GDP per capita at $11,036.

Global Citizen Year offers five distinct apprenticeships to its fellows, all of which revolve around social justice and complete cultural immersion. The program prides itself on providing an uncensored version of third-world interaction. This stands in contrast to its counterparts, many of which place a patronizing lens over international service.

When a fellow embarks on their mission to Ecuador, they choose between apprenticeships in agriculture, education, environmental conservation, social enterprise or social work. The duties range from working alongside the local government in efforts to protect vulnerable populations, to helping tutor English in local schools, to working in government-run elderly homes.

The following is an excerpt from Natalia Lanzoni’s June 2019 interview with the Borgen Project regarding Global Citizen Year’s unique approach.

Natalia Lanzoni’s June 2019 Interview with the Borgen Project

The Borgen Project: What were the biggest culture shocks—especially relating to the level of poverty—you faced when initially arriving in Ecuador?

Lanzoni: There was obviously a considerably less amount of wealth than the average person has in Cambridge. It kind of permeates every aspect of life, even the little things that you don’t think about what we do here. When I would buy groceries with my host-family we would buy one roll of toilet paper, because that’s what their income allows them. Here we don’t even think about it when we’re buying twenty-four rolls of toilet paper. It means that we have a surplus in our income that we can afford to spend it now. There was a lot of privileges I had that I didn’t even realize. Especially the fact that I was able to travel. The host-family told me they had never seen the ocean, which blew my mind because they were a two-hour drive away. Also, my host parents had to cross the U.S. border as illegal immigrants to find work when their son was born, because the U.S. won’t give visas if they see Ecuador in the papers. Their son lived his first ten years parentless.

The Borgen Project: Can you talk about your service experience in Ecuador?

Lanzoni: For the program, we have what’s called an apprenticeship, which is basically a volunteer job in our communities. So, a lot of people are English teachers or assistants to English teachers. English is important because it is so global. The one I worked for was at a local elderly home, it was run by the government of the town which provided a place for them to hang out during the day. They would come there and do crafts and the home would feed them meals. That home also supported families that lived very rarely, that had no sources of income because they were older. And they lived really high on the mountainsides, so a lot of them didn’t even have access to clean water, or they couldn’t walk all the way to the river because it was too far. They were living in pretty extreme poverty and the organization would also make trips out to do activities with them. Also, deliver them food and supplies for their homes.

TBP: Can you explain the ways in which you believe Global Citizen Year ensures long-lasting improvement on both a personal and social level?

Lanzoni: There are two different parts of how the organization is working to combat poverty. There’s the more obvious one which is the labor, the volunteer work that the fellows do while they’re in the country. But obviously, they’re only 18-year-old kids who don’t have a marketable skill or some niche way in which they can help the community. So I think the organization is more focused on the bigger picture, which is educating the leaders of tomorrow and inspiring young kids who are about to go off to college to involve themselves in social work. People don’t really think about going to college to work for a nonprofit combating poverty that often, so this is a way to expose young kids to those types of fields and to hopefully educates them in ways that they know will tangibly help that community down the line.

Global Citizen Year succeeds in informing its students about the reality of extreme global poverty. In doing so, it builds a force of passionate and motivated youth that will fight the fight to end global poverty. Here is the application to become a Global Citizen Year fellow.

Liam Manion
Photo: Flickr

Self-Determination in Ecuador

For indigenous people in the Americas, one of the greatest struggles has been for the right to their land and autonomy. Historically, this has been an uphill battle, but a recent legal victory by the Waorani tribe in the Amazon rainforest set an important legal precedent for indigenous people’s self-determination in Ecuador.

The Waorani Tribe’s Legal Victory

In the past few years, the Ecuadorian government has been dividing much of its rainforest land, including Waorani territory, into blocks to be leased out for mineral and oil rights through international auctions. The lawsuit contends that the tribe was not properly consulted about the auction. According to Amazon Frontlines, a non-governmental organization that worked with the tribe on the lawsuit, the consultation process by the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Resources had numerous failings in design and implementation.

Some issues cited in the lawsuit were “bad faith and false reporting of compliance, unintelligible communications, grossly insufficient time allocation, unaddressed complexities of translation, and poorly crafted informatic materials.” On April 26, 2019, a panel of three judges ruled that the Ecuadorian government had failed to properly inform the Waorani tribe or receive its consent for its land to be auctioned off. They ruled that the free, prior and informed consent process must be repeated.

A Victory for All Amazon Tribes and the Land

This ruling was not only a victory for the Waorani tribe but an overall win for indigenous people’s self-determination in Ecuador because the Waorani people’s territory was not the only indigenous land up for auction. According to Maria Espinosa, one of the Waorani’s lawyers, the ruling means that, because the land of the other tribes was dealt with under the “same flawed and unconstitutional process” as that of the Waorani, “the State cannot auction off the territories.” This is a huge victory for indigenous people in Ecuador.

This victory has also set a precedent for the rights of the rainforest itself. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to recognize the rights of nature to exist and act out its processes. Ecuador has some of the most diverse varieties of species on the planet. Globally, it has the highest number of species per area, including at least “1,500 species of birds, more than 840 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 300 species of mammals.” In Yasuni National Park alone, there is more flora variety than any other place on the planet with more than 20,000 species.

Alternatives to Oil

The Ecuadorian government has appealed the verdict. The South American country is currently the fourth-smallest producer of oil, but it is looking to attract investors in the fossil fuel industry. In 2018, President Lenín Moreno argued that the public-private partnerships in infrastructure, oil, energy and telecoms could bring in $7 billion dollars in investments by 2021.

However, Ecuador has shown success in producing clean energy, and a more sustainable solution to boosting the economy could be found in tourism. With its natural beauty and biodiversity, the Ecuador tourism industry grew by 44 percent from 2017 through 2018, bringing in an estimated 1.3 billion dollars. Through building these sectors, Ecuador could find an alternative to auctioning off its oil rights.

It’s unclear how the courts will rule on the appeal. At the moment, it is a victory for the protection of the rainforest and indigenous people’s self-determination in Ecuador. Even if they lose on the appeal, the Waorani people are not giving up. Nemonte Nenquimo, president of the Waorani Pastaza Organization said, “We have shown the government to respect us, and other indigenous people of the world, that we are the guardians of the jungle, and we’re never going to sell our territory.

– Katharine Hanifen
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Ecuador
Ecuador, a small country in South America, known for its impressive ecological diversity, has made great strides in improving education access for Ecuadorian girls in the past few years.

Still, there are several barriers that prevent many Ecuadorian girls to finish secondary school or make them quit school even earlier.

The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ecuador presented below are exploring the root causes of this issue, as well as the recent leaps towards progress.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Ecuador

  1. Thirty-one percent of adolescent women in Ecuador do not graduate from secondary school. In indigenous populations, this number is even higher and stands at 44 percent. In Afro-Ecuadorian groups, this number is 42 percent and in the Montubio population, 33 percent. Plan International Ecuador offers scholarships to young women to continue their education, as well as classes to teach parents the importance of their daughters’ education.
  2. In recent years, an estimated 149,572 girls aged from 5 to 17 (about  1 percent of the total population) do not attend school because they are doing domestic work instead. This issue also affects different ethnic groups disproportionately since 13 percent of Montubio girls, 15 percent of Afro-Ecuadorian and 17 percent of indigenous girls are missing school due to domestic work.
  3. Some Ecuadorian families take part in a practice that offers their girls food, lodging or other necessities in exchange for doing domestic work. Cultural and familial expectations prevent the girls from having a choice. In years prior to 2009, The Social Observatory estimated that 718 girls did not attend school because they were doing unpaid domestic work as a part of this type of transaction.
  4. In 2009, 2,083 girls aged 10 to 14 gave birth, while 60,623 births were recorded with mothers aged from 15 to 19. Due to strict legal restrictions on abortions, girls who become pregnant must either give birth or undergo illegal abortions, and the cultural expectation of mothers to assume the majority of parental responsibilities puts young mothers in a position where they are unable to continue their education.
  5. Twenty-two percent of girls in Ecuador are married before they turn 18, despite a Civil Code reform enacted in 2015 that raised the legal age of marriage for girls from 12 to 18. Underaged brides often engage in domestic chores and other marital duties, including premature parenthood, in place of continuing their education. In 2017, two nongovernmental organizations, Let Girls Rise and Girls Not Brides partnered and enacted a plan to advocate for legislative, cultural and social reform to further prevent the marriage of underage girls.
  6. Sexual violence against girls often occurs in schools. In a study conducted by Plan Internacional, it was founded that girls are often sexually abused by their teachers and older students. Ecuador’s education minister has acknowledged the prevalence of sexual violence in schools and the need to combat this issue.
  7. The problems tend to affect women and girls in rural areas more than those who live in urban areas. Fourteen percent of women in rural areas are illiterate, in comparison to 5 percent in inner cities. Rural girls attend school for an average of 7.1 years as opposed to urban girls, who attend school for an average of 10.9 years. In addition to domestic work, rural Ecuadorian women tend to do agricultural work as well. Many rural women are indigenous and face a higher rate of domestic violence.
  8. A staggering 78 percent of Ecuadorian girls are subjected to some form of abuse at home. This discourages girls from attending school by affecting their overall emotional well-being and sense of self-worth. Progressive legislative changes in the past few decades, including the Law against Violence toward Women and the Family (1995) and the rewriting of the constitution in 1998 to include Ecuadorian women’s equal rights in several sections, have been made.
  9. Approximately 2 percent of girls and 4 percent of boys are not enrolled in primary school. Almost 92 percent of girls and 94 percent of boys above the age of 15 are literate. In 2014, nearly 74 percent of girls in Ecuador completed their primary education. In 2015, nearly 42 percent of girls completed secondary school.
  10. There are several nongovernment initiatives working to improve conditions for girls in Ecuador. WE is an organization that contributes to improving girls’ by creating and running girls’ clubs, improving access to water and building and rehabilitating schools in rural areas. Plan International Ecuador hosts workshops for girls that encourages them to envision successful futures for themselves and begin to consider career plans. CENIT is a nonprofit organization that was founded to improve conditions and decrease abuse of girls working in Ecuador and continues to provide integrated educational, vocational, health, social and psychological services.

These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ecuador highlight the obstacles that stand between Ecuadorian girls and their education in order to contribute to restructuring oppressive legal and cultural systems that have allowed this problem to persist.

While some of this information can be disheartening, all signs are pointing towards progress for girls and adolescent women Ecuador.

Knowing and sharing these top 10 facts about girls’ education in Ecuador will help increase awareness of these complex issues, as well as the large number of legislators, humanitarian organizations and collective initiatives on the ground that are all paving the way for a future where all Ecuadorian girls will have access to the education and quality of life that they deserve.

– Shannon Mullery
Photo: Flickr