Population projections indicate that in 2015 Guatemala had 16,176,133 inhabitants. Of these, about half are children and adolescents under 18 years of age.
In 2014 it was found that 59.3% of the Guatemalan population lived below the poverty line and 23.4% lived in extreme poverty. It was also found that almost four out of five indigenous people lived in poverty and four in ten in extreme poverty.
68.2% of children under age 18 lived in poor households. Disaggregation of this data by age shows that 70.2% of children under 10 were living in poverty, while 65.9% of children and adolescents between 10 and 17 years lived in poverty. Based on ethnicity, it was found that 84.9% of indigenous children and adolescents lived in poverty and 45.4% in extreme poverty.
This shows that most children and adolescents in Guatemala cannot fully exercise all their rights to survive, prosper and develop their full potential.
In 2015, it was estimated that direct State investments in children and adolescents amounted to 5.5 Quetzals per day per child or adolescent to cover all their rights; i.e. less than a dollar a day, which is clearly insufficient. It is estimated that the State of Guatemala must invest at least three times that amount to at least ensure the survival and protection of the most vulnerable and excluded children and adolescents.
Investing financial resources to help children survive and develop their full potential is above all a moral imperative and part of the commitments made by the countries that have adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Investing in children is also important from a practical point of view because it benefits economies and societies. Without adequate and quality social investment, a society will hardly be able to enforce children's rights. Social investment is a tool for the implementation of rights and therefore of equity.
Equity is closely linked to the principle of social justice, which includes access to public services, water and sanitation, education, health, nutrition and justice, as well as full participation in all spheres of political, economic and cultural life.
Equity implies equal access and opportunity to survive, eat, learn and develop in a supportive and safe environment. The aim is to guarantee all rights for all people in all places, regardless of gender, ethnicity, income, physical or cognitive abilities, geographic location or other status.
In 2010, the Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted the shortcomings in implementing the comprehensive child protection system and the high levels of child malnutrition. It also referred to the need to prepare comprehensive strategies to eliminate all forms of discrimination; reduce child poverty and increase spending in children; achieve the deinstitutionalization of children in care centers; reform legislation and practices related to the juvenile justice system, and improve birth registration coverage, especially in rural areas.