ECUADOR. Population Policy of the Republic of Ecuador, National Council of Development. (Política de Población de la República del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador, Consejo Nacional de Desarrollo, January 1988, 63 p.)
POPULATION POLICY OBJECTIVES
Because it is essentially humanistic in nature, the Population Policy is not limited to the variables of demographic change, but aims at integration with economic and social development, so as to contribute to the transformation and improvement of the living conditions of Ecuadorians.
The Ecuador National Development Plan, 1985-1988, affirms the State's responsibility to deal with the different factors involved in demographic evolution and dynamics and considers them to be a necessary requirement for achieving the most important objectives of the Nation. The advancement of development requires rational and balanced demographic growth.
The Population Policy should not be viewed as a substitute for integrated development or for any of its social or economic components, but more as a means of promoting development that reaffirms the principle that human beings are both the subjects and beneficiaries of the process of development.
The ultimate objective of the Population Policy is to promote a coherent relationship between the population's growth, size, structure, and territorial distribution and the process of the country's socio-economic development and, in this way, to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the country's inhabitants.
Within this context, the specific objectives of the Population Policy are as follows:
3.1. To protect the family unit, children, adolescents, and pregnant and nursing mothers so as to guarantee the optimal development of new generations; and to enlist the aid of the elderly population to ensure the achievement of the nation's objectives.
The family is the social and human sphere in which all the basic acts of social and biological reproduction are decided upon and put into effect. Thus, it follows that integral improvement of the family is a condition necessary for the general development of the country. It is the State's duty to be concerned about giving its children all the attention that is required to render them capable of facing the intellectual and physical challenges of the future. If one takes into account that an individual's physical and mental aptitude and capacity begin to develop almost from the time of gestation, it is also the duty of the State to ensure that mothers receive the attention and care to which they are entitled, not only because they are citizens, but also because they are irreplaceable in their responsibility for primary development of all individuals. The process of social evolution increasingly demands that more special attention be paid to adolescents, by both the nuclear family and society itself, so as to positively and productively integrate them into an environment that is increasingly more difficult, contradictory, and uncertain.
A society can consider itself neither just nor humane if it does not protect and care for the elderly. It would be contradictory if the State and society, itself, were to join forces to promote longer and better lives for its men and women and then, upon their having achieved longer life, ignore them, considering them to be economically unproductive. It is necessary to recognize that, in reality, an individual is productive for a significant period beyond his age of retirement or pensioning and that society can and should benefit from his knowledge and experience.
3.2. To promote the incorporation of women into the process of economic, social, and cultural development, so as to bring about the full recognition of their dignity as persons and to encourage them to participate in family and social life under conditions of liberty and with rights and duties that are equal to those of men.
A society that desires to advance materially and spiritually must fully integrate women into its productive, educational, cultural, and political activities, allowing them to participate actively in making decisions at all levels and under all circumstances.
To achieve this objective, it is essential to change the population's attitudes, reform the legal structure, and ensure its effective operation, creating a new social conscience based on the principle of equality between the sexes.
In addition to the other objectives of the population policy, the integration of women not only supports the population policy with respect to limiting the number of offspring, migration, and child care, but also fosters the development of social and economic conditions that contribute to the achievement of the national welfare objectives.
3.3. To reduce to the lowest levels possible general rates of morbidity and mortality, especially in children under five years of age, as well as the continuing existence of illnesses that can be prevented by timely diagnosis and medical treatment.
Health is an inalienable right of all Ecuadorians and, as such, it is the State's duty to adopt all measures appropriate to protect the population, especially its weakest members--that is, those social and age groups of the population with the highest rates of sickness and death in the country.
Much has been done in the field of health in recent years; especially in the area of immunology, the progress achieved has been significant. Nevertheless, the rate of mortality due to diseases that can be prevented by early diagnosis and medical attention, early intervention, cleaner surroundings, and better nutrition continues to be high. As a result, besides the necessary intervention of public institutions, the participation of the citizenry is indispensable; by means of appropriate education and information, it can do much in the defense of its own health.
3.4. To regulate the growth of the population, so as to keep it in balance with potential resources and with national development, respecting the free, responsible, and informed decision of individuals and couples with respect to the number and spacing of births.
To achieve this objective, the following must be reconciled:
(a) The necessity of reducing the rate of demographic growth so as to reduce the gap between demands and basic needs not actually met and the potential resources on which the country relies; and
(b) The necessity of respecting fully the wishes and decisions of people to exercise freely their right to responsible parenting, regulating the number and spacing of children, so as to support improvement in the quality of maternal-child health and the welfare of the family.
3.5. To reduce substantially the level of malnutrition, with emphasis on infants, by increasing production and improving the nutritional quality of food and the system of distribution of basic foods, as well as by providing supplemental meals to pregnant mothers and children of pre-school age, especially in those groups at highest risk.
Merely increasing food production does not, in and of itself, solve the serious problem of malnutrition, especially among infants. The population policy, as an integral part of the nation's development policy, must not only look toward activity designed to bring about a more equal distribution of income among both regions and social groups, but must also demand specific actions to allow the people to have at their disposal a larger quantity and better quality of foods, especially basic foods, made with native products of high nutritive value.
Moreover, the State must also undertake to improve nutritional levels by providing supplemental meals at no cost to the recipients.
3.6. To provide adequately compensated, productive work to the economically active population, keeping in mind the increasing incorporation of young people and women into the workforce.
The employment of skilled labor, as well as unskilled labor, upon which the nation's economy is increasingly relying, is not only an economic objective, but also a constitutional right. Meeting this demand does not depend solely on economic growth, but on a deliberate policy that allows productive use of both skilled and unskilled human resources, taking into account the need for modern development. Thus, not only must productivity-increasing methods be introduced, but present labor relations must remain satisfactory.
3.7. To bring about a better distribution of the population within the national territory, so as to produce a more efficient use of resources, balanced regional development, and proper concern for the imperatives of national security.
Internal migration, having its source in regional development that has long been greatly unbalanced, has brought about a concentration of the population in a few cities.
Moreover, this polarization of growth and inadequate policies of agrarian reform and settlement have brought about not only rural depopulation, but also the abandonment of large areas of strategic importance for national security.
In addition, population and development policies must aim to retain in Ecuador skilled workers that emigrate in search of better opportunities and, likewise, strengthen, in particular, the country's scientific and technological capacity by promoting a careful, selective process of immigration that will bring about changes with respect to the disproportionate affluence of foreign citizens observed at the present time.
These factors, then, require that the Population Policy incorporate as one of its objectives the modification of the intensity and direction of migratory currents. Nonetheless, changing the concentrated nature of population growth by altering the foundations on which demographic, economic, and social relationships have historically existed is a task for the long term, since it involves restructuring both rural and urban regional development, as well human settlements, in general.
STRATEGY FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE POPULATION POLICY
Given the nature of the population policy and the social phenomena and processes that it has a bearing upon, the strategy for its implementation must be directed basically to three areas: education and the dissemination of information; provision and expansion of social services; and incorporation of population variables into all of the programs and projects contemplated in national development plans.
4.1. Education and Information
In this area, the following measures must be adopted:
--Introduction into primary and secondary school curricula of the subject "Population Education" which will, in particular, include information concerning: population and development, population and family, population and sexuality, population and environment.
--Integration into the educational materials at all levels of the values of equality and co-participation of both men and women in all aspects of social life.
--Promotion of greater participation of women in courses and programs of instruction and professional training in technical areas.
--Instruction of primary and secondary school teachers in population education topics.
--Promotion of education programs on topics relating to population policy for families and individuals who require such education and, in an intensive format, for rural areas.
--Establishment for health and social welfare personnel of education programs on nutrition, preventive medicine, and family planning, so that they can participate in providing information and services, depending upon their area of expertise.
--Making the population aware of the necessity of including native products of high nutritive value in their diets.
--Incorporation of courses on topics relating to population policy into the formal, required education programs offered during required military service.
--Systematic utilization of the mass media to disseminate messages, instruction, and advice directed toward improving conditions of health and nutrition and family planning.
4.2. Health and Nutrition
As a necessary complement to education and the dissemination of information, it is essential that the allocation and provision of health and nutrition services be improved. To this end, the State must:
--Significantly expand and extend to the entire population programs of preventive medicine for the timely detection and adequate treatment of illnesses that present a high risk.
--Maintain and qualitatively improve programs to provide mass vaccination and allocate funds for the prevention of infant mortality and sickness.
--Expand the provision of breakfast in the schools and create special nutritional programs for pregnant mothers and children under five years of age in high-risk groups.
4.3. Family Planning
In this area, the following is specifically required:
--Improvement of the quality of family planning services provided by agencies in the public sector and expansion of their coverage.
--Coordination and support of the family planning work carried out by private institutions, in accordance with the principles and objectives of the population policy.
--Extension of family planning services to rural and marginalized urban areas, adapting them to local necessities, living conditions, and socio-cultural standards.
4.4. Spatial Distribution and Migration
To develop a policy of balanced occupation of the national territory, with special emphasis on those areas with the best potential for production and on those of strategic value for national security.
To promote the establishment of basic, economic, financial, and cultural activities and services in small and medium-sized cities so as to provide the surrounding population with the facilities characteristic of in urban development.
To accelerate and complete rural development by means of integrated programs that keep the rural population in its own areas and provide it with services to promote its health and welfare.
To define a policy and implement the necessary legal measures to retain skilled labor and to promote selective international immigration, as well as the return of Ecuadorian professionals and technicians.
4.5. Better Use of Human Resources
4.5.1. Participation by Women
--To promote employment opportunities, especially for women from rural and marginalized urban areas, and improve their working conditions.
--To support and promote women's participation in political activities, with the same opportunities as men.
--To contribute to the elimination of traditional stereotypes of women's role that hinder the integral development of women.
--To establish appropriate mechanisms to ensure that housing policy favors women who must carry out family responsibilities on their own.
4.5.2. Participation by Senior Citizens
--To design a policy to make use of the intellectual and productive capacities of the elderly, especially those with specialized scientific and technical skills.
--To establish an integrated system of social security for the elderly, directed, especially, to those belonging to social groups with few resources.
--To develop and encourage economic activities that can absorb unskilled labor, such as construction, agriculture, and small-scale industry.
--To reduce labor instability through regulations that take into account the characteristics of a modern economy, which include seasonal work, occasional work, and part-time work.
--To implement permanent programs of labor education through State institutions and mechanisms that allow the participation of the private-sector and not-for-profit institutions. To this end, it will be necessary to enact a Labor Education Law.
4.7. Research and Dissemination of Information
--To produce, gather, standardize, and integrate raw and processed statistical data on the national, sectoral, and regional levels that responds to the needs of research on population and development.
--To carry out and promote both general and specific studies and research on the population dynamic and its components, the integration of population and development, the socio-cultural aspects of the population, and the effects on the population of socio-economic development programs.
4.8. Development Planning and the Population Policy
The adoption of the population policy fundamentally signifies that the Government has incorporated demographic variables as an essential part of the process of planning, so that, in the future, development plans will aim primarily to achieve the objectives of the population policy and programs and policies will consider these objectives in terms of demographic effects. This fact underscores the necessity of assigning the highest priority to investment in education, health, and nutrition and, also, to the careful formulation of infrastructure projects so as to prevent their implementation from encouraging migratory currents that are contrary to the national interest. Moreover, it requires a substantial improvement in the provision of public services and an effective decentralization of the administration of the State.
5.1. In accordance with the Political Constitution, the National Council for Development has the responsibility for demographic planning, the coordination and promotion of policies and programs, the supervision of their execution and progress, and the general evaluation of the country's population policy. In order to fulfill this constitutional mandate, the Council will work together permanently with the ministers acting in the social area.
The Vice-President of the Republic, as President of the National Council for Development, will have the responsibility for directing these efforts, and the Council will meet once every two months to evaluate the progress of its programs.
5.2. A National Directorate of Population will be created within the General Secretariat of Planning. The Directorate will have as its responsibility the technical aspects and administrative supervision of the following: policy planning; formulation and monitoring of activities; evaluation of programs and their effects on demographic dynamics; technical assistance to other agencies and regional and local governments; creation and diffusion of information, orientation, and service programs; promotion and support of studies and research that are undertaken to accomplish the goals of the population policy; and coordination with national bodies and international organizations.
5.3. Private and non-governmental organizations shall be part of the institutional structure implementing the population policy. To this end, the National Council for Development shall determine the form of their participation.