UNFPA Worldwide

Latin America & the Caribbean

This region, comprising 570 million people in 47 countries, is characterized by deep, ingrained inequality.

The top 10 per cent of the population receives half of the region's income, while the poorest decile receives only 1.6 per cent. Four of every 10 people are poor; and one of every six is extremely poor. Education has improved, but women still tend to get less schooling than men. Almost half of the adolescents in the region drop out of school.

Despite the advance of democracy and policies to invigorate the economy, growth has been restrained, and poverty is widespread. The region has shown progress in developing social policies within the ICPD and Millennium Development Goal frameworks, but gaps persist in implementing such polices and in allocating resources for them in public budgets. This affects the quality of life and the exercise of human rights.

Disproportionate numbers of youth, women and indigenous people are unemployed. They face lower life expectancy and higher rates of fertility and maternal and infant mortality, adolescent pregnancy, school abandonment, and sexual and reproductive health deficiencies than other groups.

Latin America's AIDS epidemics are generally stable, but the Caribbean has been hard hit. In that sub-region, AIDS is one of the leading causes of death among people aged 25 to 44.

Adolescents and youth account for 18 per cent of the population, but lack social and economic opportunities. Youth policies support their rights, but implementation is weak. Adolescent fertility is the second highest in the world for 15-19 year olds. Maternal morbidity and mortality are unacceptably high as well. Together with unwanted pregnancies and low life expectancy, these indicators reflect high levels of exclusion from economic participation and social and health protection.

In terms of gender equality, the region has adopted legal frameworks, enacted legislation related to reproductive rights, established gender mechanisms for equal opportunity measures, and institutionalized policies against gender-based violence. Challenges remain in achieving reproductive rights and in building solid alliances between government and civil society.

Source: Global and regional programme, 2008-2011