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Eclac: Equality needed for change in region

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

CARACAS, Venezuela—The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) says equality is the “guiding principle” for a paradigm change in the Caribbean and Latin America.


In addressing the social summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac, Eclac’s executive secretary, Alicia Bárcena, presented the document, “Structural Perspectives on the Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean” which further explores the case Eclac puts forward in Time for Equality: Closing Gaps, Opening Trails”.


According to Eclac, the new document emphasises equality as the guiding principle that “involves disseminating the development of capacities, labour opportunities and access to social protection networks and benefits throughout the social fabric, as well as the participation of the widest range of stakeholders in making this possible”.


Bárcena underscored that inequality “manifests itself in many social dimensions, such as income distribution, social protection coverage and the quality of education or the labour market”. She said the region currently has “significant gaps” in education, in terms of both access and quality. She said productivity gaps involve disparities in employment quality, adding that these, in turn, lead to segregated access to social protection.


“Placing equality at the heart of the matter is a break with the economic paradigm that has prevailed in the region for at least three decades,” Bárcena said. She said this break places the political dimension at the centre, stating that there is a need for social covenants that “ensure willingness and sustainability for this development option”. The Eclac chief said “persistently high levels of inequality” in the region ‘go hand in hand with a deep mistrust of institutions and strongly perceived injustice’.


According to the document, it is vital to link political institutions, public agencies, business agents, workers and other civil society actors. For Bárcena, ‘there is a two-way relationship between structural change, equality and political legitimacy’. 



Eclac said Bárcena’s presentation “underscored the importance of growth for equality, and of equality for growth, using macroeconomic policies to encourage investment, industrial policies that strengthen sectors, and environmental sustainability to change production and consumption patterns”. The document also states that the favourable historical situation currently being experienced by many Latin American and Caribbean countries is “in step with this paradigm change.





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