Latin American youth experience widespread discrimination, UN study says

29 October 2008

Over two-thirds of young people in Latin America feel they suffer discrimination, partly because so many are poor and under-educated, according to a report released today by the United Nations office for the region.

An average of 69 per cent of youths in Latin America said they have experienced discrimination, with over 20 per cent of those saying it had occurred because they were poor, the study – which was launched at the Ibero-American Summit in El Salvador – finds.

The “Youth and Social Cohesion in Ibero-America: A model in the making” report also noted that almost 11 per cent of young people in the region say they are discriminated against because they lack education.

“Those with the least probabilities of finishing high school are those youths whose parents didn’t conclude their formal education, those of indigenous and Afro-descendent origin, those living in rural areas and those who enjoy less material well-being,” said the report, stressing that education as a means of mobility does not work for everyone.

The study, published by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) and the Caribbean, nonetheless provided some optimism by pointing out that unemployment among youths has fallen across all income groups over the past decade.

Young people are also at the forefront of communications and knowledge, said the study, while warning that the digital gap based on socio-economic and educational differences is notorious.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also praised the heads of State and government at the Ibero-American Summit for their convention recognizing the human rights of young people, in a video message to attendees today.

Mr. Ban addressed the Ibero-American Summit – a yearly meeting of the political leaders of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of Europe and the Americas – at the start of the three-day gathering in El Salvador.

“I commend the countries in the region for their many important initiatives to benefit youth, from education to employment to the effects of migration,” he told the meeting, held in the nation’s capital, San Salvador.

The Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth entered into force on 1 March this year, and includes a range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural protections for young people.

The rights detailed include the right to object to compulsory military service, the right to sexual education, to freedom of thought and religion, justice and shelter.

 

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