When you think of Bolivia, which is the first city that comes to mind? La Paz? Santa Cruz or maybe Cochabamba? But what about Trinidad or Tarija? Or perhaps Cobija or Riberalta? These are relatively smaller cities when compared to cities like La Paz or Santa Cruz, but they are growing the fastest in terms of population. Why is that? And how can these smaller, intermediate cities manage growth so that they are sustainable and prepared for the future?
A few years ago, it would have been unlikely for a young Latin American student from a disadvantaged background to be able to access high-quality technical training using state-of-the-art technology and laboratories.
Aracelis owns a hair salon in Santo Domingo. Like all the other owners of the nearly 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Dominican Republic, she dreams about making her business thrive. SMEs in this Caribbean country employ more than 500,000 people, representing a key driver of economic growth. To make their businesses grow and achieve their goals, all business owners need one crucial ingredient: money.
When you think of a city, what comes to your mind? Skyscrapers? Subways? Crowds of people jostling each other as they head to work? And what comes to mind when you think of an Eastern Caribbean island? Sun, sand, beaches paradise? Yet, Eastern Caribbean countries also have cities of thousands of people. In 2017, 35% of the Eastern Caribbean* population was urban: 221,000 out of 628,000 people lived in cities.
- Sustainable Communities
The other day I asked my five-year-old daughter if she knew what being poor was. She hesitated at first but soon she was on a roll. She mentioned that being poor was not having enough to eat, not living in a “germ-free” house, and – my favorites – not having gummy bears or a blanket. All this within the first couple of minutes of possibly her first time ever thinking about what being poor meant. The idea of poverty is very intuitive – even for a five-year-old – but equally hard to put boundaries around. It is common to say that poverty doesn’t mean the same thing in different contexts or that it goes beyond monetary dimensions. But what do we mean by that?
Last year in a small village in southern Trinidad, my Nani (the Hindi word for maternal grandmother) – who was a child bride herself at the age of 16 –was able to witness a huge victory for all girls in her country in protecting their childhood from a similar fate. After years of civil society organizations’ campaigns for a change in the law, the movement against child marriage finally bore fruit. On September 29th, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated the one-year anniversary of this critical legal victory achieved with the Proclamation of the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Act No. 8.
In Trinidad and Tobago, child marriage was previously allowed based on parental consent or judicial authorization under the Marriage Act Chapter 45:01 along with other applicable religious laws. The main legal framework was set in place during the early 20th Century, in an era when many parents saw it unnecessary to send their girls to school. That was the case with my Nani; after being married to start a family at such a young age, she abandoned her education and suffered five miscarriages resulting from early pregnancies.