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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

Bolivia's Poverty Reduction
Bolivia is a South American country that continues to reduce its high poverty rate. Poverty lowered substantially from 66 percent in 2000 to 35 percent in 2018. The government of Bolivia took direct action to develop its economy, reduce its poverty and income inequality and increase foreign investment. The Latin American country still has a high poverty rate, yet its progress in the past 20 years shows promise that Bolivia’s poverty reduction and economic development will continue.

Government’s Direct Involvement in Poverty Reduction

The Bolivian government approved the National Economic and Social Development Plan 2016-2020 to bring about change in its country. Former President Evo Morales fought for income equality and higher wages as Bolivia’s president, and the country is still fighting for his goals. The country intends to help its people live a prosperous life without worrying about the effects of poverty, such as hunger and an inability to afford health care. The main objectives of the plan include eliminating extreme poverty, granting basic services to the entire population and diversifying its economy. The plan set forth a continuation of Bolivia’s poverty reduction progress since 2000 while also lowering income inequality.

Poverty almost reduced by half from 2000 to 2018, which economic growth partly drove after Bolivia transitioned into a democratic society during the 1990s. Income inequality lowered as the Gini coefficient demonstrated. If the Gini coefficient is zero, then income inequality is zero. This income inequality indicator showed a reduction from .62 in 2000 to .49 in 2014. For reference, the U.S. Gini coefficient in 2017 was .39. The 2016-2020 plan sought to continue its efforts in reducing income inequality. Although the Gini coefficient lowered, income inequality still remains an issue in Bolivia.

Poverty Reduction Through Economic Growth

Economic growth is another factor that helped with Bolivia’s poverty reduction efforts. Bolivia’s GDP growth hovered around 4 percent since the early 2000s. From 2000 to 2012, Bolivia increased its exports that consisted mainly of minerals and hydrocarbons. Although hydrocarbons grew controversial in Bolivia, hydrocarbons and minerals accounted for 81 percent of all exports in 2014. In 2000, its exports accounted for only 18 percent of GDP, yet exports grew to 47 percent in 2012. Bolivia’s decision to focus on exports helped grow its economy, add jobs and reduce income inequality. In time, Bolivia may transition to cleaner sources of energy for its future.

Economic growth led to wage increases for many Bolivians, which expressed the idea of poverty reduction through economic growth. Bolivia’s GDP grew by a massive 80 percent from 2000 to 2014, and there were various positive side effects of this growth. Salaries increased after the government took direct involvement in income inequality. The real minimum wage increased by 122 percent in the years 2000-2015. The average labor income also increased by 36 percent during 2000-2013.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) came to the conclusion that labor income was the number one factor that led to reductions in poverty and income inequality from 2007 to 2013. Nonlabor income such as remittances, rents and transfers contributed a small amount to these reductions. Nonlabor income was an important aid for the elderly though.

Bolivia’s Progress in Income Inequality and Economic Development

Bolivia is an excellent model for what is possible through a government’s direct involvement in poverty reduction. Economic growth helped fuel Bolivia’s objectives in reducing poverty and bringing income equality to its people. Although poverty remains high, Bolivia’s progress in the past 20 years shows promise that poverty will continue to lower. Income inequality remains an issue, and as shown from the IMF’s research, wage increases are key to Bolivia’s poverty reduction.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Morales Transformed Bolivia The year 2006 marked the beginning of a new era for Bolivia. For decades before, Bolivia had been run by presidents that continuously marginalized the indigenous population and favored wealthy foreign corporations, making Bolivia one of the poorest countries in South America. By 2002, the percentage of Bolivians that were living in extreme poverty spiked to 38% and remained stagnant until 2006. When Evo Morales became president, through programs and initiatives, Morales transformed Bolivia in several ways.

The Reign of Evo Morales in Bolivia

Evo Morales’ election sparked what his government referred to as the “Process of Change”, a presidency that would bring the spotlight to the marginalized workers and away from Bolivia’s elites that have ruled the country for years. The campaign specifically focused on restoring the rights of the indigenous population. And after just one year of the election, Bolivia began to see huge improvements. Since 2006, the Bolivian economy has grown, on average, 5% yearly compared to the 2.8% before. Most notable, Morales was able to cut the extreme poverty rate in half, bringing it down to 17%. He also obliterated the illiteracy rate to zero. So, how was Morales able to push real progress?

Bolivia’s Natural Resources

Morales set a path that focused on putting government investments in social spending. He began this project by regaining national sovereignty over Bolivia’s natural resources: Lithium. For years prior, foreign corporations had been profiting from Bolivia’s natural resources, raking in 85% of the profits generated by its natural gas production. After being sworn into office, Morales was able to regain nearly 80-90% of its shares. Now, the state is in full control of the sales and distribution of its raw resources. Since 2006, Bolivia has amassed $31.5 billion, which Morales allocated toward schools, hospitals and infrastructure, building about 4,500 educational facilities.

Anti-Poverty Initiatives in Bolivia

When it came to combating poverty, Morales had made many positive changes to improve Bolivia’s crisis during his 14 years in office and worked to raise the standard of living for the most desperate people in the country. Under Morales’ rule, the monthly minimum wage rose from 440 Bolivars to nearly 2,000, and unemployment rates dropped to under 4% from their original height of 8.5% back in 2005. There was also a sharp decline in those living in extreme poverty, shifting from 38% to just 16.8%. Overall, poverty dropped to 38.6% from the original 60.6% in 2005. Further, Morales worked to build nearly 127,000 new homes for financially insecure Bolivians without housing.

Focusing on Children and Education

Morales transformed Bolivia further by putting forth specific programs that would benefit and prevent poverty in vulnerable groups: children, mothers and the elderly. To combat low school attendance and restrict child labor, Morales put forth the Juancito Pinto program, which aimed at reaching nearly two million children. This program awards children $28 for every year of schooling they complete, encouraging them to remain engaged in their education. Before Morales taking office, the country had an illiteracy rate of 13%. However, through the use of the Juancito Pinto and the YES I CAN program, 850 thousand children became educated and Bolivia became illiteracy free in 2008.

Addressing Maternal and Infant Health

For Bolivian mothers, Morales put forth the Juana Azurduy program to end maternal and infant mortality and to reduce food shortages for children. Under the program, Bolivian mothers would receive up to $266 to go toward food, care and shelter while they raise their families, an effort that UNICEF has praised. When the program began in 2009, child malnourishment was at nearly 27% and has declined to just 16%. Child mortality has also decreased by nearly half. This program also helped to encourage women to visit medical facilities while they are pregnant and for a period after they give birth by offering cash grants to those who follow the program.

Focusing on the Elderly and Disabled

For senior citizens, Morales introduced the Renta De La Dignidad program, which focused on Bolivian citizens over the age of 60 who were not previously receiving any social assistance. This bill also gave $36 a month to disabled Bolivians as well as pregnant women and assisted them in finding jobs in the government and private sectors. The goal of this bill was ultimately to grow the income of those who were less capable of finding work and it has resulted in many Bolivian citizens who were victims of poverty increasing their yearly income to nearly $342.

The Future of Bolivia

It is evident that Morales transformed Bolivia in several positive ways. While Morales’ successful 14 years have come to end, Bolivia has rebirthed Morales’ principles with the recent election of Luis Arce.  Similar to Morales, Arce promises to bring justice to groups that continue to be marginalized.

Maya Falach
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and Inequality in BoliviaIn 2009, poverty and inequality in Bolivia were some of the highest in South America. Extreme poverty rates were roughly 40 percent and the poorest 10 percent received only 0.5 percent of the total national income.

There was a sharp turnaround between 2004 and 2014, according to the World Bank. Economic growth averaged 4.9 percent annually, moderate poverty rates dropped from 59 to 39 percent, and inequality plummeted. Poverty and inequality in Bolivia began to wane.

 

Fighting Poverty and Inequality in Bolivia

 

It was not until 2006, a year after the election of Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, that government commitment to economic growth and poverty reduction began to drastically improve. Morales increased spending on health, education, and poverty reduction programs by 45 percent between 2005 and 2006.

On July 22nd, 2017, President Evo Morales declared Bolivia completely independent from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Spurring this independence are the improvements achieved by Morales’s government. Since his election, inflation has run below four percent each year, basic consumption goods have been at a surplus, extreme poverty has fallen to 17 percent and the richest 10 percent of the country, which used to earn 128 times more than the poorest, now only earns about 38 times as much.

What’s more, as Francisco Toro writes, “Bolivia was running budget surpluses every year between 2006 and 2014. This allowed it to draw down the public sector’s debt, which fell from 83 percent of GDP in 2003 to just 26 percent in 2014, even as Bolivia built up its international reserves dramatically, from $1.7 billion in 2005 to $15.1 billion at the end of the boom in 2014.”

Much of this had to do with the burgeoning natural resources in the country. Export revenue, in the decade following the appointment of Morales, grew by six percent contributing to the impressive reduction of poverty an inequality in Bolivia.

Independence from the World Bank and IMF marks a new era for Bolivia. Its unprecedented economic improvements and reduction of poverty and inequality are a victory for the fight against poverty. The question is, will the world follow suit?

Joseph Dover

Photo: Pixabay