1. Women and childrenECUADORPoverty, violence, cultural values, vulnerability andhope Alina Rodriguez-Velasco
2. Women and children and theeconomy Largely divided by the prolonged socio-economic differences and ethnic origins brought in the population by the historical and institutional legacy dating back to colonial times, social exclusion and economic marginalization are huge constraints for the overall population. Yet, women from all social strata suffer outright the consequences of the poor economic performance of the country, particularly during the last decade when the worst economic crisis ever hit the country. The current economic crisis has brought upon setbacks particularly to women, whose income has been largely reduced as result of losses in employment due to low agricultural and industrial productivity and the slowdown of remittances flows, causing consequently an enormous impact on children wellbeing.
3. Women from high and upper-middle classes make up a considerable portion of the workforce and are particularly visible in banking and finance, university teaching and research, and NGOs; yet, their work is lower paid. For women and children from low-class households, in rural and urban areas alike, poverty is the major enemy. They are the most likely to bear the heaviest burdens of poverty. Women, especially from rural areas, are the ones who suffer most deprivation. Gender gaps in wealth and income are intricately related to ethnicity and occur in different markets as well as within the households. Two points have been stretched out: the first is related to the lower human capacities women develop in Ecuador since they have the in-home responsibility of nurturing and child bearing, and consequently spend less time on paid-jobs outside the household. The second point raised and greater supported about gender-based wage differentials lies in the discrimination women are victims in the Ecuadorian labor market, even though in some social structures women have more years of education than men.
4. Albeit the Ecuadorian women have substantially bettered their education level, particularly those who are part of the economically active female population, they still hold lower positions and lower wages. This tendency shows that female labor force is still considered secondary and complementary to male‟s work. Intra-household arrangements are likely to be unfavorable to women. Budget-constrained parents can make only limited investment in their children‟s schooling, and household division of labor generally limits females‟ opportunities to participate in the labor force. Based on multiple regression on the determinants of wages it has been noted that under similar conditions of education, work experience, ethnicity, employment segmentation, training and other variables, female‟s wages are 15% lower than men‟s.
5. Women in the informal economy Women from poor households are in the disadvantage condition of having lower education and years of experience required in formal paid jobs. Notwithstanding this difficulty, women have found jobs in the informal sector mainly as short-term and part-time jobs, in which educational and technical skills are practically null; this kind of jobs are difficult to be counted in national statistics. The informal sector of the Ecuadorian economy is vast, entailing different sorts of jobs, varying from domestic part-time services, gardeners, hawkers, to more qualified jobs as electricians and plumbers advertised on the streets; this tendency is spreading out in a fast-speed due to economic hardship. As a result, it is not longer possible to ascribe Ecuadorian women with the specific role as wife and mother caring for the household; they have become likewise men bread-winners along with their children, who together come into play as important financial sources for a household‟s wellbeing.
6. Some statistics Unemployment rate of women as Unemployment, female (% of female opposed to men: (2005) women 10.8% - labor force , 2009): 8.4% men 5.6% Vulnerable employment, female (% of Percentage of women administrative female employment, 2009): 51% and managerial workers: (2002) 25% Literacy rate, youth female (% of Womens wages relative to men: (2009) females ages 15-24, 2009): 97% adult economic activity rate: women 47% - men 77.7%. Educational level of girls as opposed to boys: (2008) years of schooling: girls 14 Gender wage gap: (2007) 11.2% – boys 14 Labor participation rate, female (% of 5 out of 10 illiterate people are women. female population ages 15+, 2009): 47% 5 out of 10 poor people are women. Employees, agriculture, female (% of female employment), 2009: 23%Data source: World Bank
7. Some cultural facts Ecuadorian women have been educated to marry young and fulfill their nurturing and caring chores at home. Tendencies, however, have changed drastically, due to different socio-economic causes, being one important cause the severe economic and political crisis of 1999. Due to financial constraints, women in both rural and urban areas and from different social strata continued or started to work to make up for the resources needed to compensate their husbands‟ wages during economic downturn. One of the factors affecting recruitment of women in Ecuador is the cultural conception about women involving higher costs due to the provision of maternity protection, higher absenteeism, reduced willingness to work overtime and more restricted mobility in relation to men. This is one reason that heavily encourages discrimination against women.
8. Child labor When speaking about women and the economy, children must be likewise taken into consideration since in current times they are also bread-winners. Poverty is the main cause of child labor, but also other factors come into play such as: the breakdown of the family structure; migration of the father, mother, or father and mother together going abroad or from the countryside to big cities leaving behind children oftentimes without direct and careful supervision of adults, and poor social welfare laws that prevent children from working and ensure their enrollment in schools. According to the SIISE statistics, there are many children from 6 years old age and adolescents who work either part or full-time. These children overwhelm the streets of the big cities working as shoe-shining boys, hawkers (fruits, vegetables, and sweets), peddlers, and street artists. Other category has been determined for children who work as factory and construction workers, and children working in banana plantations.
9. According to UNICEF, 8% of Ecuadorian children between the ages of 5 and 14, - 7% boys and 8% girls - are still engaged in some form of child labor. Ecuador‟ s banana sector has been intensely investigated and plantations owners accused for turning to child labor to keep productions costs down and stay competitive. Eradicating child labor in Ecuador not only depends on the government institutions but also on all private sectors. The 1998 Constitution safeguarded the rights of children and called specifically for protection of children in their workplace against economic exploitation and any other condition that may hinder their normal development. This statement was reinforced through the amendments of the 2008 Constitution and in spite of the advancements achieved thus far, UNICEF has stated that the progress is slow and social policies are to be reinforced in practice to protect children.
10. Violence against women andchildren According to UNIFEM, 6 out of every 10 women in Ecuador are victims of violence within their own households in 2008. Violence against women have far-reaching impacts on children and society as a whole. Although Ecuadorian younger generations have changed cultural chauvinist behaviors, the statistics are alarming and increasing. Violence includes physical abuse such as hitting, kicking or beatings, forced sex, psychological abuse, such as bullying and humiliation, and controlling behaviors such as isolating her from family, friends, or denying access to economic assets or other assistance. Violence against women is due to poverty, unemployment, gender disparity, low levels of education and precarious legal system. In the public sphere, intimidation at work and sexual harassment are common practices of violence against women.
11. Women in the survey reported that the perpetrator of the sexual abuse was either spouse/partner, ex spouse/partner, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend. Only 8% of the women reported that the perpetrator was a stranger. According to UNIFEM in 2008 46% of women = 2.455.304 women reported having suffered from violence, either physical, sexual or psychological. Only 7% of these women turned to professionally help, support and presented a formal allegations. In 2008, 65.000 allegations of violence were reported to the 31Police Stations for Women existing in Ecuador. 10.000 of these allegations reported were on sexual violence, and only 3% of these passed sentence.
12. Observing adult abuse at home during childhood and adolescence has been identified as one of the major risks for abuse in adulthood, according to a research carried out by the public institution Cepar. 36% of women reported having seen physical violence between parents. Indigenous women reported having observed physical and psychological violence in their homes that the mestizo women or members of other ethnic groups. About 44% of indigenous women reported physical violence against 35% in mestizo groups and 34% in other groups. 28% of Ecuadorian women reported having received physical abuse and 25% reported emotional abuse they had received when they were under 15 years of age, with a total of 31 percent having received any of the two abuse.
13. The experience of childhood abuse was most commonly reported by indigenous women, 41% reported physical violence and 35% psychological abuse, compared with mestizo who reported physical abuse by 27% and 24% psychological abuse. Women between15 to 49 years old, a 9.6 percent reported any sexual violence in the course of life. The 7.2% reported a violation with penetration and 3.7% reported being victims of sexual abuse without penetration. The 1.3% of women reported that they had been victims of the two types of sexual violence. Sexual violence often occur first during childhood or adolescence. 43% of women who had been sexually abused reported that they were under 15 years old when it first occurred; 18% of women reported to have been abused for the first time at a younger age than 10 years.
14. Child abuse Child abuse is inevitably growing in Ecuador, although is in constant fight. According to Observatory of Children and Adolescents, violence comes primarily from their own parents and is the result of lack of education and misleading education. Teachers in schools play a great deal in child abuse, mainly between children from 6 to 11 years of age. The observatory reported that 1 out of 10 children have been physically abused by the teacher, and / or teased / insulted. A 52% of parents punish their children. The punishments affect more boys than girls in schooling
15. Social and cultural features play a great part in child abuse: it occurs in 57% of poor households compared with 44% of those with greater resources. Violent punishment is more common in rural areas (43%) than in cities (32%). The use of violent punishment is more common in homes of the Amazon than in the highlands and the Coast. The most common practices of punishments are scolding, beating, showing indifference, locking children in, baths in cold water, insults and teasing.
16. Women and children in the family Ecuadorians play great importance on the family, both nuclear and extended. The family in Ecuador is indeed the basic unit of society, within which fundamental values and principles are taught. Ecuadorian women are the base of a strong family and domestic life. Traditionally monogamist and dual-kinship based – patriarchal and matriarchal – machismo is a very common practice typically linked to the Latin cultural conception of being man. Polygamy is socially unacceptable in every socio- economic class and is not legally recognized.
17. In extra-marital affairs situations the blame is more commonly put on women, denigrating somehow their status in society. Girls tend to be more protected by their parents than boys, due to traditional social structures. There are variations in family structure, as well as in the social and cultural structure in Ecuador depending on the socioeconomic position of families. In families from high and upper-middle class usually living in urban areas, albeit the machismo condition in the Ecuadorian society women have a fundamental role to play that goes beyond upbringing and caring for children and the family as a whole.
18. Their role far extends to managerial tasks and even household-head decisions making; e.g.: money- spending on food, household-needs provision, and children‟s education and spare-time activities. Men have taken an inactive role in housework. This has begun to change due to the economic hardship that has forced women to join the workforce and obliged men to do some chores of the housework. Men‟s role is likely to be a supportive one to get things well done inside the household by providing all the means needed. Civil and Catholic marriage in this socio-economic level is extremely important to seal the couple‟s commitment to God and to set up the basis in the society, which will give the family the status and recognition.
19. In families from low-middle and poor socio-economic strata more commonly located in rural sector and peripheral zones in the big cities, the family is pretty much conceived in free marriage, with common residence and more importantly reproduction-function features. The Ecuadorian Constitution accords the members of a Free Union family the same rights and duties as in any other legally constituted family. Gender equity is a bit fairer since men and women‟s labor is essential to bring the bread into the household. Even children are in many cases considered as labor force; this is why it is very common for these families to have many children.
20. Women and children and health The primary cause of maternal mortality and morbidity is inadequate quality and coverage of prenatal and natal care. This condition has deteriorated during economic and political crisis. Less-educated and rural women as well as indigenous women have less access to maternal care and consequently are more prone to health problems. These also relates to adolescent pregnancy, high fertility rations and birth pacing, these more common in rural areas. Although the use of contraceptive methods has increased, access to and use of them are still low among socio-economic groups and vary by level of education and urban versus rural residence. Family planning is more common among higher-educated women from urban areas.
21. One quarter of men use contraceptive methods, which means that the responsibility for family planning is left exclusively to women. Lack of information on sexuality and contraceptive methods increases the number of undesired pregnancies, particularly among youth and young women. In 2000 the 9,8% of all adolescent girl became pregnant. The Free Maternity and Child Care Act guarantees women the access to sexual and reproductive health care. Women are less likely to have private health insurance than men. National health insurance in 2004 covered 23.9% of the employed economically active male population versus a 6% of women workforce. In 2004 was reported that 65% of women ceased treating their illnesses, and looked for alternatives and less costly methods, such as traditional medicine. Children are still affected by the incidence of TB, malaria and anemia throughout the country.
22. Some statistics* Maternal mortality ratio per 1000 live births:140 Maternal mortality ratio - Lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in 270 cases Contraceptive prevalence: 73% Antenatal care coverage at least once: 84% Antenatal care coverage at least four times: 58% Delivery care coverage - skilled attendant at birth: 98% Data source: UNICEF, 2009 and World Bank 2009
23. Delivery care coverage - institutional delivery: 85% Delivery care coverage - C-section: 26% Women aged 50–69 years have undergone a breast examination or mammography: 17% Women aged 20–69 years have undergone cervical cancer screening: 45% Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1000 women ages 15-19: 82 Prevalence of HIV, female (% ages 15-24): 0.2 Under 5 mortality rate (per 1000): 20 Estimated prevalence of anemia in pre-school children: 20-40%. Health expenditure % total GDP: 6.1%Data source: UNICEF 2009 and World Bank 2009
24. Women and children and theenvironment The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 is the benchmark of the link between gender and environment. The critical environmental issues in Ecuador are rooted in the side effects of industrial and agricultural production processes, as well as the misuse of resources. In the Amazon region, the problems are the high rate of deforestation, severe pollution due to oil production waste; soil, water and lake contamination. In the Andes region (highlands) the environmental problems are related to land distribution and agricultural practices, such as overexploitation of marginal lands. The indiscriminate mining activity is of great concern. It is carried out with no protection for workers and the environment. The emission of heavy metals, solids and chemical reagents have cause the deterioration of water, soil and air.
25. Children in garbage Sewage waterdumps Mining and Deforestation
26. Other environmental issues entail overuse and misuse of pesticides in agricultural production, spewing out residue in water, land and food. Furthermore, garbage management has become an issue in larger cities. All these problems affect largely women and children, because they oftentimes engage in agriculture activities without protection, being exposed to chemical substances eventually harmful for their health, fetch water in polluted rivers, lakes and streams, and work in garbage dumps being exposed to any kind of diseases and dangers. It has been demonstrated in studies that the pesticides used in flower plantations have been direct linked to the high levels of abortion and malformation in babies among worker women in the highlands. By 2010, 1900 children were rescued from garbage dumps dangerous work in Ecuador after 8 years of intense work to eradicate child labor in garbage dumps nationwide.
27. Women in power and decision-making Ecuadorian women were the first women in Latin America to win the right to vote in 1929. In 1995 the Law Against Violence Towards Women and the Family was passed. The1998 Constitution specified equal rights between men and women in many areas. It constitutes an important document for justice and empowerment of women. The 2008 Constitution reinforces gender equity. Despite the progress made thus far, in promoting women‟s participation in politics, there are still substantial gaps. Ecuadorian women are highly political active in elections. They fill mainly local authority positions, particularly municipalities and parish boards,
28. Indigenous leader Former Vice-President and President of the Republic of Ecuador
29. Women ministries have been appointed in the governments since the last decade, particularly in foreign trade, foreign affairs, tourism and education portfolios. Currently, the women that wield power being the heads of the following ministries: of justice, environment, culture, education, economic and social inclusion, foreign trade, agriculture and fishing, transport and public works, social development, natural and cultural patrimony, political coordination and decentralized autonomous governments, political economy coordination, productivity- employment-competitiveness. Also in the risk management national secretary and migrant national secretary. In the worldwide raking „Women in Parliaments‟ headed by Rwanda, Ecuador is placed in the 20th position, with the following data of 2009, situation as of 31 October 2011: 120 seats at the national parliament, out of which 40 are held by women, which means a 32,30% representation of women in national decision-making process. Women in ministerial positions represent 35.3%, ranked in th
30. Article 102 of the 1998 Constitution establishes that “The State shall promote and guarantee the equitable participation of women and men as candidates in the popular electoral processes, in instances of leadership and decisions in the public arena, in the administration of justice, [and] in the organisms of control and political parties.” In the 2008 Constitution, 50-50 gender parity as well as alternation was approved. The National Electoral Council determines the obligation to comply with the principles of equity, parity and alternation between men and women on the candidate lists. Only once, in 1996 the Vice-president of the Republic has been a woman. The Vice-President, Rosalía Arteaga, was supposed to succeed President Abdalá Bucaram after he was overthrown; however, she was unable to do so because of a political pact in the National Congress that declared it unconstitutional. By means of an Executive Decree the National Government recently acknowledged Rosalía Arteaga‟s presidency.