OTTAWA, June 28, 2016 /CNW/ - In honour of the official visit to Canada of his Excellency Enrique Peña Nieto, President of the United Mexican States, and Mrs. Angélica Rivera de Peña, Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce initiatives intended to improve the lives of women and indigenous peoples in Mexico.
One is the signing of a Letter of Agreement with the National Council for Science and Technology of the United Mexican States (CONACYT) to collaborate on future joint research projects related to indigenous issues.
More specifically, indigenous peoples in both Canada and Mexico – particularly women – face challenges in attaining and applying higher education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In the case of Mexico, among a population of approximately 17 million indigenous people, only approximately 2.5 per cent of indigenous students complete university or college degrees – across all fields of study.
Recognizing that STEM students from indigenous communities could benefit from the creation of new job opportunities and from better integration into labour markets, and that additional efforts could be made to improve educational and employment outcomes for women, IDRC and CONACYT will work together to strengthen programs in STEM.
Another is a project in support of Mexico's National Digital Strategy. IDRC will work with the Office of the President of Mexico to implement an innovative mobile banking solution called Prospera Digital. The Mexican national employment insurance program, Prospera, regularly issues support payments to seven million low-income women, to provide their children with schooling, health services and adequate nutrition. Limited banking infrastructure outside major cities, however, means that billions of dollars in cash must be distributed to roughly 120,000 communities across the country – a highly inefficient task that limits the program's effectiveness.
Because it is more common for Mexicans to own cell phones than bank accounts, mobile banking may not only improve the Prospera program, but also be used for other services, including savings, remittances, and microcredit. Research will also be supported to inform and improve policy and operations, and enable other countries to learn from Mexico's experience.
"North American prosperity will be greatest if all are included – including women and indigenous peoples. Evidence shows that social protection for poor families and improving education opportunities for indigenous communities reduces vulnerability, and improves well-being and social mobility – particularly for women and girls. This makes for a stronger economy and a brighter future for all," said Jean Lebel, President of Canada's IDRC.
IDRC is proud to be collaborating with the Mexican government to implement and learn from innovations, with the potential to scale up these projects across other countries.
Note to editors
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SOURCE International Development Research Centre
For further information: Jocelyn Sweet, IDRC Media Relations, [email protected] | +613.696.2117 | @IDRC_CRDI