The situation of women in Ecuador and Esmeraldas

The poverty situation in Esmeraldas in general, and especially among women and children, is a crisis that has been going on for decades and has even become worse in recent years.

Muisne is amongst the poorest cantons in Ecuador

According to a 2018 study1 Canton Muisne is among the four Cantons in Esmeraldas where a majority of residents find themselves trapped in poverty. A 'poverty trap' is a condition in which households are unable to escape their precarious living circumstances, often due to internal household factors or external challenges such as a lack of government support to enhance their quality of life. Muisne has been grappling with this situation since at least 2001.

A study from 2014 also concludes: “It can be seen that the parishes with the highest incidence of poverty (57%-96%) at the national level are concentrated in the northwestern part of the country (provinces of Esmeraldas, Imbabura and Carchi) and the central-eastern part (in the highlands: provinces of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, and in the Amazon:provinces of Napo, Pastaza and Morona Santiago). Muisnes Gini-Coefficient between 0,21 to 0,29 is way below national average (0,41), which basically means, that most of the citizens of Muisne are equally poor.” 2

Additionally, the organization of SOSChildren Villages states: “… the region is one of the poorest in Ecuador:around 65% live in poverty. Thousands of families lack access to drinking water, paved roads, and sewage systems, and health care.” And further “Around 214,000 children and young people live in the province of Esmeraldas. Around 76 per cent of these live in poverty. Around ten per cent of children aren't able to live with their parents.” 3

Figure 13. Location of municipalities in a poverty trap condition in 2001 and 2010. 2

Figure 13. Location of municipalities in a poverty trap condition in 2001 and 2010. 2

Impact of the Corona Virus on women employment

Unfortunately, the impact of the CoronaVirus did not make the situation better. Data shows a 7,4% year-over-year increase of Unemployment and underemployment for December 2020. Just over one third of the population earns less than $84.05 per month and is considered poor as a result. At the same time, extreme poverty, defined as a monthly salary lower than $47.37, increased by six percent to 14,9%. In absolute terms, this means that more than one million people fell below the poverty line within a year. Rural areas are the worst affected 4.

Women are particularly affected by this development: 45% more women were unemployed in December 2020 than in December2019, compared to an increase in unemployment among men of "only"about 12 percent 5. The poverty of women and especially mothers has of course a direct impact on the poverty of children as well.

Sister about 8 to 14 years in a dark setting. Playing at the front door. Lit up by the light inside.

Esmeraldas is one of four provinces with the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America and the Caribbean

Another problem is the high rate of teenage pregnancies in Esmeraldas. With 111 births per 1,000 adolescent girls (15–19 years old), Ecuador has the highest adolescent fertility rate among all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean 6. Esmeraldas in one of four provinces with the highest adolescence birthrate of girls between 10 and 14 years of age (up to 7,14 birth per 1000 citizens)7 in Ecuador. In total 78% of teen pregnancies are between the ages of 10 and 14, and 80% of these pregnancies are the result of sexual abuse 8.

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1 Correa-Quezada et al: „PovertyTraps in the Municipalities of Ecuador: Empirical Evidence“, MPDI 2018

2 Cabrera et al: „Análisis geográfico de la pobreza y desigualdad por consumo en Ecuador“, NEC 2016

3 SOS Children's Village Esmeraldas: „Esmeraldas is one of the poorest regions of Ecuador”

4 Dora: „Ecuador: Armut und Arbeitslosigkeit im Corona-Jahr drastisch gewachsen“ America21 2021

5 Jara et al: „The role of automatic stabilizers and emergency tax–benefit policies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador” United Nations University 2021

6 Herrán and Palacios: “Evaluating and Improving upon Ecuador’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Policies in an Era of Increased Urgency” Ann Glob Health. 2020

7 „Consecuencias socioeconómicas del embarazo enla adolescencia en Ecuador” UNICEF 2020

8 „Esmeraldas: Nacen 17 bebes por cada 1000 habitantes“ La Hora 2022