Adolescents make their voices heard in a public forum on education and gender equality
Adolescents from schools in different parts of Peru submitted innovative proposals to improve their education and strengthen gender equality to the political parties in the 2021 electoral race.
The National Network for the Education of Girls’ Florecer’, in coordination with Save the Children and 12 other organizations hosted the public forum “Gender Equality in Schools: Challenge of the Bicentennial” held last Thursday, March 18. Eight adolescent leaders participated in this public forum, which was broadcasted nationwide. They presented the problems experienced by their regions and proposed different solutions regarding education and gender violence to four representatives of the candidates to the Presidency of the Republic.
Ana María Robles, Technical Coordinator of Red Florecer, inaugurated the forum and urged the candidates in attendance to incorporate the adolescents’ proposals in their government plans. In this sense, she pointed out that “(…) The children and adolescents of the country, especially the most vulnerable, forgotten, discriminated and excluded, demand from the next government effective measures to ensure the full exercise of their right to education and their right to live and study in a Peruvian society free of violence”.
Adolescents Jorge Quispe (Cusco), María del Carmen Ccopa (Madre de Dios), Meylin Cenizario (Ica), Ariela Cachay (Amazonas), Karleth Ramírez (Ayacucho), María Chávez (Piura), Angell Valera (Ucayali) and Abdon Flores (Huancavelica) raised their voices and made everyone aware of the difficult situations experienced in each one of their regions. In the debate, the discussion topics were organized around: access and permanence in school and gender violence in the context of the pandemic; gender equality in pedagogical processes and school culture; intersectoral management and gender violence; and gender violence in the media and social networks.
After listening to the adolescents, Carlos Cornejo, journalist and moderator of the event, proceeded to point out the main proposals of the debate and committed the political parties to analyze in the coming months whether or not the proposals were taken into account by decision-makers.
Abdon Flores, a teenager from Huancavelica, had one of the most noteworthy participations in the event. Abdon is a member of the Advisory Council of Children and Adolescents (CCONNA) promoted by the Social Development Office of the Regional Government of Huancavelica, and has been working for four years to defend the rights of his peers in his department. According to Abdon, the proposals presented at the forum were the result of a dialogue between him, his fellow adolescents, specialists members of CCONNA, and experts from Save the Children.
“Although I had previously participated in smaller events, with this large event, I felt that they were finally listening to us adolescents, I felt that the work that we adolescents have been doing for several years was finally bearing fruit (…) When I was invited to participate [in the event], I saw it as an opportunity to move forward, for me as a leader, for Acobamba as a province and Huancavelica as a Region,” said Abdon Flores.
Finally, Abdon shared a small reflection to empower all adolescents. “Do not forget that we all can and have the right to participate. Nothing is impossible if we work with effort, determination and dedication. At the beginning, I did not believe that I would get very far with my participations; but look at me now; I am making progress little by little. Don’t forget the main thing; the main thing is to defend rights and support others,” he said.
As with Abdon, Save the Children has been working with children and adolescents in the Huancavelica region through two projects that benefit primary and secondary school children in eight communities in the district of Yauli. The first, “Improving the health of mothers and adolescents”, seeks to reduce teenage pregnancy in the region and ensure access to quality health care for children, girls, adolescents, including parents and adolescent mothers. This project began in 2018 with the support of Latin American Children’s Trust- LACT. Since then, it has been focusing on capacity building and promoting school participation and spaces for discussion and agreement, benefiting more than 1800 schoolchildren from the 1st to 5th year of high school.
On the other hand, the project “Keeping children safe, healthy and learning in Nicaragua and Peru” developed with the support of the Greek foundation Stavros Niarchos is benefiting more than 900 schoolchildren between 5th grade of primary school and 3rd year of secondary school. This intervention, which is being implemented simultaneously in Peru and Nicaragua in response to the health crisis caused by Covid-19, aims to ensure access to and continuity of quality and inclusive education, supporting the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable rural children and adolescents.
Debates such as “Gender equality at school: the challenge of the Bicentennial” encourage the participation and involvement of adolescents in the discussion of issues that have a direct impact on their development. It is vital to continue promoting spaces for dialogue and consensus-building in which adolescents can express themselves freely, with the support of their families, teachers and civil and governmental institutions.
Conclusions of the Electoral Forum “GENDER EQUALITY IN SCHOOL: CHALLENGE OF THE BICENTENNIAL”: Red Nacional de Educación de la Niña Florecer – Publications | Facebook