Introducing her country, Maritza Rosabal explained that the Republic of Cape Verde was a small African republic in the Atlantic Ocean with a population of half a million people. Slavery was still in existence until 1879, and therefore most of the population did not have the right to have a family. Today, of course, this is a constitutional right. The Republic of Cape Verde obtained independence in 1975 and the country’s situation has changed dramatically in the past 40 years. To start with, it was regarded as one of the world’s poorest countries, but by now it has become a middle-income country. In 1970, the fertility ratio stood at 6.3; now it is 2.4. This means that previously families had an average of 7 members, while today they have 4. Currently, the average age is 64.

Exploiting opportunities

The Minister explained that it was important to give attention to the situation of women in the country, as in many families the head of the family is a woman, and they must carry the burden of keeping the family’s finances going. Thus, it’s not by coincidence that lawmakers have decided to put families in focus.

The unique needs of families must be taken into consideration at all levels of governance – stressed the Minister. – The other key challenge we face is fighting poverty: currently we have 8 thousand families living in extreme poverty. We must make sure they have sufficient income and can access core services. To this end, we have cut VAT from the price of staple products such as nappies, and have introduced special prices in support of those living in extreme poverty.

Nevertheless, we are facing a situation they call a ‘demographic window of opportunity’, meaning that the ratio of active population is currently higher in the country than the size of inactive population. However, this demographic window of opportunity will soon close, resulting in a rise in the proportion of older people.

Now we must focus all our investments on preventing a return of poverty. Thus, we must support the active part of the population through housing construction, the development of public illumination and community transportation and support for children’s healthcare and education. In the latter field, the Ministry of Education has taken a number of steps: pre-school education has become a general phenomenon, and schooling has become mandatory from age 8, and it is free through the end of secondary schooling – she explained about the steps taken. – Today’s investment is tomorrow’s social advancement.

(photo: Förster Tamás)