Macroeconomics, Poverty, Population and Development
SUPPORTING POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN MEXICO
UNFPA's most recent
country programme in Mexico focused on
five of the poorest states: Chiapas,
Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Puebla.
Several innovative projects linked poverty
alleviation to reproductive health.
In Chiapas, health promoters and midwives
were trained to provide and promote
the use of quality reproductive health
services. Educational materials were
developed to address reproductive rights,
gender equity, sexuality, family violence
and sexual and reproductive health.
Indigenous women were helped with
childcare and nutrition. Men were also
encouraged to participate in improving
In seven poor, rural regions and 42
municipalities with largely indigenous
populations, reproductive health services
were enhanced, and community health
assistants were trained to provide health
education to adolescents. Young people
were involved in efforts to strengthen links
between service providers and the communities,
and support was provided to an
institution that works to help rural youth
overcome cultural and linguistic barriers.
The project also facilitated exchanges of
experience among rural midwives.
Safe motherhood was promoted in five
Chiapas municipalities by training traditional
midwives, and through radio
programmes in local indigenous languages.
Reproductive health services in four
marginal urban areas and 18 rural areas in
Hidalgo were expanded by setting up itinerant
health brigades; medical personnel
and community health workers received
training, and a system for evaluating service
quality was established. In Oaxaca,
training efforts focused on safe motherhood
and gender equity for female
migrants, particularly agricultural workers.
In addition, UNFPA provided technical
support to population planning institutions
in five high-priority states to advance the
national poverty alleviation strategy, helping
them improve local capacity to select
the best locales for programmes. This successful
initiative encouraged the
government to mobilize domestic and
donor resources to expand these efforts.See Sources
Globalization should be an opportunity for the poor, but it often
does not work that way. Globalization opens markets, but markets
can confer their benefits only on those they include. The poorest
are almost by definition excluded, except at the lowest level of
A wage-based market economy tends to drive up the price
of essential goods and services including food, water, housing
and energy, while wages at the low end do not keep pace, and the
non-waged see even low-cost goods move out of their reach.
"Liberalizing" the market for necessities has actually driven people
into poverty, not rescued them from it. Markets are aimed at
maximizing profit, not attacking poverty.
The poor provide little opportunity for profit, and find less.
Globalization as currently practised can expand employment
at the low end of the income scale. Sometimes it has the opposite
effect: opening markets, for agricultural products, for example,
has concentrated economic activity and made subsistence
Many agricultural workers have gone on to an uncertain
future in the towns. This can have a disproportionate effect
on women when they are a large part of the rural labour force.
Globalization has opened new opportunities for women in
the urban labour market, but with many risks and strict limitations
on their upward mobility.
The effect of globalization can also be seen in the swift
transfer of social goods-drugs and medical technologies, for
example-across countries, from one affluent group to another.
But by and large globalization has so far had little positive
effect on health, education and other social goods for the poor.
In fact the opposite is often the case.
There is considerable pressure on developing countries, in
the guise of economic restructuring, to curtail public expenditure
and rely on the free market. But cuts in public expenditure are
frequently indiscriminate, removing support for public services
like education and health care, which are used most heavily by
the poor. The free market does not supply these goods to the poor,
because they are not profitable.
Poor people need globalization policies that work for them.
Recommendations in this area go well beyond the scope of this
report, but they should include new approaches to debt, trade and
economic restructuring, as well as international assistance. The
UN's Financing for Development conference in 2002 pointed to
important needs and strategies.
To the extent that policies in these areas make poor people
poorer and increase inequality, they push back the time when the
demographic window will open and economic growth and fertility
decline will reinforce each other. To make the most of globalization,
part of the economic gains must be ploughed back into social
programmes that directly help the poor.