Children and youth are the most vulnerable to the effects of the economic crisis
Mexico City September 8, 2009 - In order to analyze the effects of the economic crisis on children, youth and their families, and to examine the most effective public policies required to mitigate such effects, the Mexican National Council of Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL, by its Spanish acronym) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly hosted a forum entitled "The impact of the economic crisis on children and adolescents.”
The forum gathered a group of national and international authorities and experts in public policy and social welfare such as Susana Sottoli, UNICEF Representative in Mexico; Gonzalo Hernandez Licona, Executive Secretary of CONEVAL; Cecilia Landerreche Gomez Morin, Head of the Welfare National Agency (DIF, by its Spanish acronym); Jorge Mattar, Deputy Director of ECLAC in Mexico; David Gordon, from Bristol University, UK; John Scott, Professor-Researcher, Center for Research and Teaching (CIDE, by its Spanish acronym); Veronica Silva, Executive Secretary of the Social Protection System in Chile; Jorge Abrahão de Castro, from the Strategic Affairs Secretariat of the Presidency of Brazil.
International experiences from similar crises indicate that the most vulnerable population to the economic downturn is generally children and youth. In times of economic crisis, children are more likely to drop out of school and start working to contribute to their family decreasing income. In addition, families are also forced to cut their spending on food, health, and education, resulting in a direct and immediate impact on the well-being of children and producing permanent effects on children´s development and future potential.
In this context, the forum seeks to appeal all stakeholders on the urgent need to protect children and youth from the adverse effects of the crisis, placing them in the center of public policies.
Mexico has made significant progress in securing better living conditions for children. In the current economic crisis it is important to protect these gains, and not to put them at risk, as well as avoiding any setbacks that may result in increasing inequalities that already affect thousands of children in the country. In times of crisis, decreasing the cycle of investment in children can have serious and lasting consequences. The setbacks reflected on the well-being and opportunities for children and youth have a long-term impact and are very difficult to revert.
In this issue, Susana Sottoli, UNICEF Representative in Mexico, said that it is really important not to cut the social expenditure focused on the welfare of children in times of economic recession. “Investing in children is not only a moral imperative for every society and a legal obligation because Mexico ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but a strategic choice for national policy: it is the most direct and effective channel to create a skilled workforce, productivity and innovation capacity; and it is key to ensure the social cohesion necessary for constructing democracy and citizenship,” added Sottoli.
Likewise Gonzalo Hernandez Licona, Executive Secretary of CONEVAL, said: "In these moments when the 2010 budget is being discussed, it is important for Mexico to prioritize specific actions to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis on children and youth, who are the future of the country, and this is not an empty phrase. What we do today in public policy to improve the rights and well-being of children will be reflected in the well-being of our country tomorrow. This implies that the Executive and Legislative branches must reach agreements on long-term growth that are urgent and pressing.”
UNICEF and CONEVAL signed an agreement earlier this year for the development of joint studies and analysis aimed to measure the impact of the economic crisis on children and youth in Mexico, in order to identify and implement policies that effectively protect children from the effects of these crises.