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FEATURE STORY

Uruguayan Parliament seeks to enhance social rights laws

July 3, 2012


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World Bank Representative in Uruguay, Peter Siegenthaler, and the president of the Uruguayan General Assembly, Danilo Astori

World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An initiative by the World Bank and the Uruguayan Parliament will foster visibility of three laws that protect the rights of vulnerable populations
  • A US$ 385,000 grant was awarded by the Bank to the Uruguayan government to help the project implementation
  • The outcomes of a research will help define how to disseminate information about social rights bills

In Uruguay, a recent research shows that the poorest segments of the population, victims of domestic violence and workers under age 18 are likely to have one thing in common: they lack knowledge about their rights and about the instrument the State has to protect them.

A joint initiative by the World Bank and the Uruguayan Parliament, can help change this scenario by fostering visibility of three laws that protect social rights for these vulnerable populations.

The Family Allowance Act, the Law on Hazardous Labour for Minors in the Rural Sector and the Domestic Violence Act, are the three pieces of legislation whose dissemination and effective implementation will be monitored by the project.

“The efforts made by the three branches of government in their contribution to this project seek to attain social equity, and enhance citizens’ awareness as to their rights”, said the World Bank Representative in Uruguay, Mr. Peter Siegenthaler.

“The project aims at supporting the development of public policies and enhancing the quality of legislative work”, added the president of the General Assembly, Danilo Astori.

A US$ 385,000 grant was awarded by the Bank to the Uruguayan government to help the project implementation.


" The efforts made by the three branches of government in their contribution to this project seek to attain social equity "

Peter Siegenthaler

World Bank Representative in Uruguay

The first step towards a more equitable access to the legal system in Uruguay was already taken. Equipos Mori (an institute for social research), Deloitte and Saldain & Asociados carried out a comprehensive survey that measured how well-informed vulnerable populations were about the legislation that protects their social rights.

Figures were analyzed recently in a meeting between government officials and World Bank experts at the Parliamentary General Assembly, in Montevideo. Researchers found out that the level of awareness may vary according to the group.

Among the poorest sectors of the population, for example, 72% believe that social programs aren’t fully reaching those in need, while 59% state that there isn’t enough information about such initiatives.

Around 90% of the interviewees know the Family Allowance Program, but only 28% of considered themselves well-informed about how it works.

A bigger challenge is posed by young employees of the rural sector and by victims of domestic violence. Among the first ones, 75% seem to ignore the law that rules dangerous labor in the field.

In the latter group, although 44% know the Domestic Violence Act, many aren’t fully aware of actions that are culturally entrenched and can be considered brutal.

“The research revealed different perceptions between the rural employees and the legislators who passed the bill to protect these youngsters”, says Mariángeles Sabella, a World Bank expert. “In the case of domestic violence, behaviors that do not involve physical aggression – such as psychological or economical violence, or not letting an adult go where she wants to – still are not considered violent.” 

Building strategies

The study outcomes will help define how to disseminate facts about the social rights bills, taking into consideration that the three vulnerable groups have unequal access to information sources. Also, the research figures and analysis will create background to a plan to strengthen the capacity of implementation of these laws.

While strategies are not yet fully defined, Bank experts and Uruguayan parliamentarians agree that the conjoint initiative will eventually enhance of legislative work in the country. And what’s more important, it can promote a true impact in the everyday lives of who needs legislation – and action – the most.


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