Girls play football in a schoolyard in the city of Olinda in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco. The game was organized by the local NGO PETI (Programme for the Eradication of Child Labour), a UNICEF-assisted organization that offers sports and cultural activities to children from marginalized communities.
In 2006 in Brazil, favourable economic trends mask striking racial, ethnic, gender, geographic and urban/rural disparities. For example, black children are 78 per cent more likely to live in poverty than white children, and children in rural areas are twice as likely to be poor than those living in urban areas. While the nation boasts the world’s ninth largest economy, it also has one of the highest income gaps between rich and poor. This inequity manifests itself in every aspect of life, from basic services, healthcare and education to access to clean water and improved sanitation. Yet the nation’s response to HIV/AIDS is recognized as one of the best in the world. The Ministry of Health provides free, universal antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to all HIV-positive children and adults who need it, as well as expanded HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programmes for pregnant women and young people. Nevertheless, significant regional and social challenges remain. The number of AIDS cases among blacks and women continues to grow at a much higher rate than for whites and men. In 1985, the male-to-female ratio of AIDS cases was 23 to 1; today it is 1.5 to 1. Among adolescents, this ratio has already inverted, and there are now 1.5 AIDS cases among girls for every boy. UNICEF supports HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care for all children, adolescents and pregnant women; equal access to health, nutrition and education for all children; and comprehensive youth development to discourage child labour and promote racial and ethnic equality.