By Rocio Arango Giraldo
COLOMBIA: At dawn in Latin America, historic monuments stand in contrast with highly technological and luxurious buildings.
Television actresses and executive women drive to their offices, while blue-collar workers hurry to their work places.
Chanel NÂº5Â´s scent gets mixed up with the scent of fresh flowers, both scents eventually dissipating into thin air â€” just like our governmentâ€™s policies.
For a region that is torn between Development and Progress with the constant urge to improve the living conditions of its citizens, the panorama is quite complex.
Children, women, the elderly, youth, Afro-Colombians, native Colombians, sick and disabled people are dying of hunger, donâ€™t go to school, donÂ´t have jobs, lack medical assistance and pension plans.
It isnâ€™t because the State doesnÂ´t do anything: the Ministries fund many social welfare programs. Although the subsidies are socioeconomic tools of the patriarchal State that operate under the â€œPositive Discrimination Criterion,â€ the State canÂ´t guarantee that the poor will benefit from these funds or if they will become a welfare staple for all the vulnerable populations.
Why? Because these subsidies don’t eliminate the vicious cycle of poverty.
They don’t attack povertyâ€™s causes or hit the impact points in the citizen’s life, but rather they are a palliative help to the problem.
But what is the meaning of the â€œVulnerable Populationâ€ concept? Colombian law defines it as a group of people who are without protection or disabled in facing threats to their psychological, physical and mental conditions, among others.
So again the women are in the eye of the hurricane, or should we say, tangled in â€œThe Povertyâ€™s Stringâ€ â€” a term which describes the places surrounding the bigger Latin-American cities where usually the poor people live.
The Colombian conflict is a contributing factor in the poverty plight of Colombia’s most vulnerable citizens.
(Source: UNHCR news stories)
Regarding â€œThe Povertyâ€™s Strings,â€ Bernardo Klinksberg says in his essay titled â€œDiez Falacias sobre Los Problemas de AmÃ©rica Latinaâ€ (Ten Lies about Latin AmericaÂ´s Problems) that the â€œPoverty Islandâ€ or â€œPoverty Focusâ€ is a concept that is used in developing countries for the poor places in comparison with the rest of the city which is considered â€œrich.â€
Yet in Latin America, the poverty is so extensive, expansive and diversified that the middle classes are now slowly becoming the newest poor people.
So, what is the role of public policy in the fight against poverty?
After the â€œLost Decade of Latin Americaâ€ (the 80â€™s), the regionâ€™s countries tended to separate public policy from the sectors so that the government had only to answer the structural form of the unsatisfied basics needs. For this reason, public policy is reduced to only mitigating the consequences of the economic policy.
Itâ€™s one of the reasons why poverty is a problem that reproduces quickly among the people, and especially among women â€” an illiterate mother is mostly unable to give a better quality of life to her children than what she knows herself.
Women must conquer and own our social space as citizens with rights and obligations, but this will be possible only if we can uphold the banner for ethical political practices and to abandon viewing social policy as handouts and gifts but focus on attacking the economical damages.
The women policy makers must begin an ethical defense of social policies, to strengthen the social establishment and make it important to discuss budgets.
Only by following this path, will we be able to leave the â€œExclusion Clubâ€ that carries along with us our parents, children, grandparents, spouses, friends and every single one of our Latin American brothers and sisters.
Learn more about RocÃo:
RocÃo Arango Giraldo is 21-years-old and lives in MedellÃn Colombia. She studied Political Science at the University of Colombia, as well as, Social Communication, Public Management, and Strategy and Public Knowledge at the Mexico City campus of the Technology Institute of Monterrey.
RocÃo is a member of the Conservative
I am member of the Colombian Conservative Party (Partido Conservador Colombiano) where she works in political marketing, social and policy investigation and foreign affairs.
She also works as a young democratic participant with the Democratic Christian Organization of America and has written for such prestigious Colombian publications as El Colombiano, El Tiempo and others.
But something she is most proud of is her advocacy for people with disabilities.
I fight for the rights of disabled persons like me.