Inclusion Index Shows Progress & Pitfalls for Women, Indigenous Groups

Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State, gave opening remarks at the event.

Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State, gave opening remarks at the event.

Earlier this month the Americas Society unveiled its Social Inclusion Index 2015. This study ranks 17 countries in the Americas across 22 variables including education, civil rights, financial inclusion, LGBT rights, and more. 

Uruguay tops the list for the second consecutive year. Poverty, combined with gender and racial inequalities place Guatemala and Honduras at the bottom. 

"None of our efforts towards growth will be sustainable unless they are socially and economically inclusive," said Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

The big picture is that poverty is decreasing in the Americas. Alana Tummino, policy director at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas noted that while progress has been made on many fronts, "women, indigenous, and Afro-descendant populations still lag in many…indicators when compared to the general population.” A few highlights from the report:

  • "Minorities are more vulnerable to poverty than nonminorities, usually by at least 10 percentage points."
  • "The majority of the countries included in the Index improved in access to adequate housing—most significantly Paraguay."
  • "The region’s champions of women’s rights are the U.S., Uruguay, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Colombia."
  • "We saw great improvement in all countries in decreasing the maternal mortality rate. In Bolivia, the rate dropped spectacularly from 8 percent to 1 percent."
  • The top countries for women’s rights are the United States, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Colombia.
  • "Between 2011 and 2014, bank account ownership dramatically increased in the region. Growth was strongest in Brazil and in Mexico."
  • The top five countries for LGBT rights are Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. "Paraguay shares the bottom of the scale with countries in the Northern Triangle, particularly Honduras and Guatemala."

This year also marks the start of the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent.