Cuenca is the capital of the Azuay Province, in the south of Ecuador. Around 400,000 people live in this city, which is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site for its many historical buildings.
Cuenca also has one of the lowest poverty rates in Ecuador, at 12%. Nonetheless, many Ecuadorians from this area also migrate within the country or even abroad, to provide for their families. This leaves many children in precarious situations at home.
Since 1997, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Cuenca.
Around 40% of Ecuadorian women have been victim of physical or sexual violence, and 70% of women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.
Cuenca is known to be one of the cities with the least crime in Ecuador. The only crime that persists in the city, is violence against women. More than 200 feminicides happen in the city each year.
The Ecuadorian president has vowed to eradicate gender-biased violence, but this will require a major push from the government. Children are most impacted by this violence, directly or indirectly.
Ecuador is a country of origin and destination for migrants, and the largest recipient of persons in search of international protection and asylum seekers in Latin America.
Around 2 million Ecuadoreans live abroad. Many parents have decided that the only way to provide for their families is to move elsewhere, either to another area of Ecuador or abroad. A large number of the migrants are from Cuenca. The money they send back can pay for many basic needs, but also creates other difficulties. Children often live with just one parent, or more commonly, are left in the care of grandparents, aunts or uncles.