It was an honor to travel to Mexico recently to be part of the 2nd Summit / Symposium on Early Childhood Development "Interactions that Transform." For all those who attended and who dedicated their lives to make sure that more children around the world have happy, healthy and productive lives, thank you for joining the fight.
According to the Inter-American Development Bank, the countries in Latin America have made great strides towards reducing child poverty. Nearly 22% of children lived in situations below the poverty line in 2013, a significant reduction compared to 41% in 2000. Children today are workshop and healthier than ever before, and have a much greater chance of going to school.
But that does not mean we can rest. Investing in Early Childhood Development should be a priority for governments and companies, since it has been that investing in the earliest stage of life has the greatest return on investment for society.
At United Way we are committed to mobilizing all sectors - individuals, governments, companies and civil society organizations - to achieve the goal and increase investment in early childhood.
Our network in Latin America is working with more than 500 companies, 1,200 government agencies and civil society organizations, and 15,000 individuals who have impact agendas for Early Childhood Development. Thanks to these partnerships, every year more than 100,000 children benefit directly in such areas as education, nutrition and family support.
An example of our work is "Born Learning Healthy Environments", a regional program implemented in seven Latin American countries. United Kingdom United Way Fund recently began to implement this program and is now providing training for teachers and caregivers in more than 9,500 centers in Mexico with the goal of creating better physical and emotional spaces that support the development of children.
Early Childhood Development is not only key to social development, it is directly linked to the success of business. In Mexico, more than 50% of companies report that they do not find talented talent and workforce to grow their businesses. If we want to change this, we must start with our youngest children, because the gap that is left open after these years will be more difficult to close later.
Early Childhood Development affects our future, both in terms of the opportunities we give our children, and in the generalized health of society. We, at United Way, believe that the only way to live better is to live together, and the 2nd Summit / Symposium on Early Childhood Development was an important moment to create new connections and opportunities for each child, in each community, to have the possibility of being successful.
It was incredible to accompany them in Mexico City. I look forward to my next visit.