In the days leading up to the XIV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile, 64 adolescents and young women from the region met in a consultation space facilitated by United Nations agencies. This activity, part of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, includes adolescents for the first time in a regional consultation process. The results of this consultation will be presented at the Generation Equality Forums in Mexico in May and in France in mid-year, in July.
Geraldine and Claudia, two teenagers from Peru and Guatemala, participants of Save the Children’s Civil Society Support Program, participated in the Regional Consultation and shared their experiences in promoting gender equality and opinions with other young people in the region.
“It was a motivating experience,” Claudia noted. “When you relate to other people you realize that, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, girls and adolescents have the same experiences. And it motivates you because you are not alone. All these people are working for the health, education and rights of girls and women.” Geraldine, the representative from Peru, said that it was rewarding and enriching for her to expand her knowledge of gender equality by participating in the consultation process. “The experiences of feminist women in intergenerational dialogues made me feel inspired.”
Both Geraldine and Claudia contributed to the creation of a declaration of feminist youth in the region, which revolved around the issues that most affect girls and women in Latin America and the Caribbean: climate justice, participation and leadership, free and quality education, economic rights, and sexual and reproductive rights.
“… We know that justice institutions do not have a gender approach, there are no protection laws or laws that are not enforced due to lack of budget. Women do not trust the justice system, girls and young women are discriminated from undertaking and being leaders. The figures of sexual violence are alarming. Not only in my country but in the whole region”.. Geraldine pointed out about the Latin American and Caribbean context.
“We are asking for laws to be made and funded, for professionals to be trained in gender equality issues and for education based on equality to be implemented in schools, because we live in a sexist society…We are going to take these commitments to where women are most vulnerable, it is not enough that it is on paper.”. Claudia said about the statement.
Upon returning to their countries, Claudia and Geraldine are committed to continue disseminating the experience in Chile and also to share the declaration of the feminist youth.
“I am going to give talks in the schools of my municipality. I have the initiative to support and involve other young people to participate in decision-making spaces. In addition, I want to hold fairs with my organization so that through games we can learn about gender equality.” These are the plans shared by Claudia, representative of Guatemala.
Geraldine, for her part, said that she will continue to work from the school municipality to achieve the active participation of girls and adolescents in school decision making, municipalities, participatory budgets and public hearings with authorities. At the same time, it will promote the active listening of girls’ voices, so that they are taken into consideration by educational authorities.
“I will continue to promote women and girls because we have the right to empower ourselves, to work, to be considered, to be given a fair salary and education. We are human beings and we have rights and we should feel proud. Let’s go together for a world of equality and gender equity,” she said.said Geraldine.
“I am a young woman with a vision to engage and empower girls and women. I am speaking for the girls in my community, who do not have the opportunity to raise their voices… I believe that all women, including people with disabilities, Afro-descendants, indigenous and LGTBIQ community should have the right to participate in decision-making spaces.”Claudia pointed out.
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