Speech by Ignacio Pareja Amador, General Director of DIGEPO, 2021 United Nations Population Award

15 Jul 2021

I want to start by saying thank you; a big thank you to the UN Population Award Committee for acknowledging DIGEPO's work with the most prestigious recognition in terms of population in the world.

Furthermore, I would like to recognize commissioner Hassane Haousseize Zouera for obtaining this award in the individual category. Greetings from Mexico.

As the Director of DIGEPO, it is a great honor to speak on behalf of my team, an incredible group of driven people who believe in an innovative way of working. A team that trusts in collaboration and preparation as the main tools to face the population challenges of our beloved state of Oaxaca.

Excellencies, this is a story of a small public agency that dreams large. The General Direction of Population is a decentralized institution of the state government of Oaxaca. 4.1 million people live in Oaxaca (52% are women, and 48% are men). We are a culturally rich and diverse society where seven out of ten people consider themselves indigenous, 1.3 million have a mother tongue other than Spanish, speaking 16 different languages. And with the secondhighest percentage of Afro Mexican population in the country.

DIGEPO has a prevention and awareness function so that the community and local governments face the demographic challenges effectively.

We could summarize our public value as being to deliver two general goals:

  • That people are aware of the causes and consequences of demographic phenomena to make better decisions that benefit their life plan, and
  • That local governments know the demographic composition and priorities of their population to make evidence based public policy decisions.

It is a complex mission. However, we decided to tackle these challenges using a methodical tool I learned in the Melbourne School of Government, the Strategic Triangle Model described by the academic Mark Moore. Hence, we focused on three core elements:

  • our operational capacity
  • our legitimacy and support; and
  • the public value we want to create

In terms of our operational capacity, I can say that we are not a big organization, we are just a team thinking outside the box.

In 2017, we decided to digitalize all our products because we wanted to improve their geographical distribution. For instance, Oaxaca has the highest number of municipalities in Mexico: 570 (23% of the country’s municipalities). Additionally, we have a complex orography, that amplifies the remoteness of many small communities from the urban centers. Therefore best and most costeffective strategy for delivering the state territory's demographic agenda was going digital and using ICT.

In this regard, I would like to thank our most outstanding partners; the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and the National Population Council of Mexico (CONAPO). Both institutions supported us with statistics, studies, and technical assistance to develop our digital products.

In terms of legitimacy and support, I should thank the governor of Oaxaca, Mr. Alejandro Murat, because he allowed me to run DIGEPO with flexibility and freedom trusting the method I applied, and the experience I got from years in working in the population area.

Finally, in terms of the public value DIGEPO delivers, I would like to present three of our most representative projects;

First our publication: “Population of Oaxaca in the XXI Century” is a valuable resource which builds deep understanding of Oaxaca’s demographics and changes to support decisionmakers and inform the general population. We have addressed significant issues such as the demographic challenges of Oaxaca, the characteristics of international migration, the ethnic identities, eradication of child labor, a culture of respect and inclusion for the Afro- Mexican people, perspectives of gender equity, and population ageing and health.

The second project I wish to present is DIGEPO’s digital platform "Find your Moment.” This geo-referencing system contains different resources to identify where adolescent pregnancy occurs, what information resources are available, and how to prevent it from an institutional view.

Our goal is to bring together into a single place valuable resources to prevent adolescent pregnancy, and make this resource easily available to the multiple actors involved in this demographic phenomenon: adolescents themselves, teachers and parents, public authorities, academics, and civil organizations.

Finally, I would like to present our most important project, the Gender Atlas of Oaxaca.

We identified a lack of information at the state, regional and municipal levels on gender equality; therefore, it was necessary to create a digital platform with all relevant statistical and demographic evidence, to support the design of inclusive public policies. To achieve this, DIGEPO, with the support of INEGI, the Ministry of Women in Oaxaca, and the collaboration of 15 local institutions, created the Gender Atlas of Oaxaca, the first digital platform at the subnational level in Mexico that visualizes gender inequity across population groups and locations. You cannot battle gender inequity if you can’t see it and you can’t measure it. 

The Gender Atlas makes the inequitable conditions faced by women visible. This more profound understanding of inequity is needed to design equality policies, supporting women's physical, economic, and political autonomy, and fighting violence against women and girls.

For the first time in our institution's history, in 2019, the Gender Atlas was recognized as the Best National Practice in "Monitoring Instruments" awarded by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL).

Also, the platform obtained second place at the national level in the Award for Innovation in Transparency 2019 organized by the National Institute of Transparency (INAI), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among other institutions.

This success made us wonder how we can replicate this useful platform in other states of Mexico.

If Oaxaca made it with the highest number of municipalities in the country, in theory, it would be easier to succeed in other local Mexican governments.

The first pilot project we launched was in partnership with our regional neighbor state of Guerrero, through its Population Council. This resulted in the Gender Atlas of Guerrero, and has been one of the country's most successful interstate cooperation projects.

I would like to announce that we are now working on an Accessible Generic Platform that will help any state or municipality to make their own Gender Atlas, reinforcing the role of the population councils in delivering a helpful tool to meet the social challenge of gender inequity.

We acknowledge that what we do is not enough; what we do is only a tiny part of the population agenda solution. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the challenge of inequality globally, making  it more difficult to get positive outcomes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and our own progressive regional agenda, the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development.

However, if we collaborate, if we work together regardless of the organization's size, we can get close to our goals. We are confident that even a small institution like ours, with a strategic vision, with partnerships, with the will for cooperation, can genuinely make a difference.

I can humbly say that we are an example of that. Thank you very much.

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