Argentina’s poorest girls and youth need the most education

Vanessa Rivera de La Fuente – WNN Opinion

Young girl in Buenos Aires, Argentina collects trash with family.
A young girl outside Buenos Aires, Argentina collects trash on the streets with her family. Image: Olmo Calvo

(WNN) OPINION Buenos Aires, Argentina: Early motherhood, especially among lower incomes groups, prevents equity in social development, according to the study led for the Institute for Social Development in Argentina (IDESA).

Around 10 percent of women who are between the age of 15 and 24 years-old – that means around 340,000 girls – are the ones in charge of their home. Out of these 80 percent they belong to homes within the two poorest sectors of Argentina. 30 percent of these young women and teens study and/or work outside the home. The remaining 70 percent do not.

The Institute points out that few formal statistics in Argentina exist covering early motherhood and childhood marriage in South America. My attempt to find information online is based on crossed information from different sources with a program Argentina called the Permanent Survey for Households of National Statistics Institute (INDEC).

According to INDEC teen girls and women suffering from poverty in Argentina leads them to drop out of their education early. It also causes them to be limited with any future possibilities for a quality job. According to the INDEC society must have an equal distribution of educational opportunities among both genders on all levels. This means the implementation of family and motherhood policies must leap beyond hypocrisy.

Education is a core factor related to the conditions of poverty. And yes this is the common vernacular worldwide. The report describes that “one of the principal causes of poverty is the low employability of people in active ages from these groups. This is directly linked to low levels of education. More serious than this is the tendency of poverty to multiply and perpetuate the drop rates of children. It also causes children to repeat the same lack of ability found with parents to insert themselves in the labor market.”

In this sense the report points out that the most powerful mechanism in the continuation of poverty can be found in the inter-generational transmission of poverty with early childbearing among low-income households.

That’s how the vicious circle keeps going. “In a family context, where the possibilities to provide support for young mothers are scarce and personal development is limited, the result is dropping out of school,” says the INDEC.  “This situation conditions seriously young girls future because, with low education is highly possible to fall into labor inactivity.”

But we must also ask this question: Does no to little reproductive choice for teens and young women in Argentina affect their poverty? Do rights for women also include women’s rights and human rights? Of course it does.

The discussion of the legalization of abortion does show how reproductive choice affects teens and young women who suffer from poverty in Argentina.

According to the report “Children at risk” by the Observatory of Social Debt in Argentina, children who live in homes that receive little cash assistance also have educational deficits. 19.1 percent have limitations to receiving education and 16.8 percent don’t even go to school.

Early childbearing in poor environments brings other issues up, like a girl’s access to safe abortion. Early motherhood affects many more poor young girls than their more affluent counterparts. This is because those who do have a step up on poverty are attending school and have better access to sexual education and birth control education that helps to teach them how not to get pregnant. Those who suffer from ongoing poverty have little to no knowledge in knowing how to protect themselves.

The Children at Risk study does claim: “The Universal Child Scholarship Program can push past any scandal with the discussion of abortion.”

It’s worthwhile to mention another insight of the report: where poverty is established the incidence of intensified child labor by families who work together and among those inside poor households remains too high at 10.9%. Tucumán, Argentina is one of the places where children are told to stay home so they can work for the family. They are also given a higher percentage of heavy housework and work outside for the family, preventing them from being able to follow any type of education. This high rate of children working in Tucumán is followed by similar conditions for children who live in low-income households in urban metropolitan areas like Buenos Aires.

The result of ongoing conditions that limit children and adolescents causes “backwardness” in education society-wide in Argentina. It also creates limitations as many teens drop out of school.


WNN – Women News Network women rights in culture columnist and social critic Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente  is a feminist Muslim from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Chile, Rivera is also an enthusiastic speaker on issues of gender and empowerment who has led volunteer programs for rural communities in the Peruvian highlands. Vanessa believes strongly in the power of words to change the world.


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