What does it mean to be a girl in 2020? Depending on their respective countries, backgrounds, socioeconomic class, or personal circumstances, girls across the world have radically different day-to-day experiences. UNICEF wanted to hear directly from girls themselves as they shaped their priorities for local communities.
In 1995, 189 countries adopted the Beijing Platform for Action (BFPA) – “an agenda for women’s empowerment.” 25+ years on, the Critical Areas of Concern (CAC L) for girls are mostly still valid, although these “old” problems have often become more complex, and emerging challenges intensify barriers for girls in Latin-American and Caribbean (LAC) countries.
In August 2020, UNICEF launched a new consultation project for girls aged 14-18 across Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin-America isn’t new to citizen consultation—just recently, CitizenLab collaborated with Chile’s National Youth Institute (INJUV) on a community development project—but a project of this scale, stretching across multiple regions and countries, is unique.
Sharing experiences, hopes, and dreams
By sparking conversations on the participation platform, UNICEF gauged the issues that matter most to girls between 14-18 within local Latinx communities. What are their main challenges, concerns, and experiences? And how do they want to be represented by decision-makers?
A ‘What if?’ section inspired girls to share their hopes, dreams and wishes for the future. With questions such as “What if you were the Head of Government?” or “What will your life be like when you’re 25?”, UNICEF didn’t only set out to understand the current situation, but also to capture the participants’ endless potential and ambition.
“If I was put in charge, I would promote equality in all dimensions. In many situations, adolescent girls are discriminated against, excluded as people who have no thoughts of their own and no right to make their own decisions.”Adolescent girl (18), rural Brazil
The UNICEF platform encouraged girls to take time for self-reflection and engage in dialogue and debate. What’s it like to be a girl in your community? What does empowerment mean to you, personally? And which norms and expectations does society place on girls?
“I would create a commission to provide follow-up and economic support to all girls, adolescents and women who have suffered sexual violence.”Adolescent girl (15), urban Bolivia
Results: Working with and for girls to protect their rights
In total, 1,400 girls responded. The girls of Latin America and the Caribbean demand an end to violence and discrimination, climate justice, sexual education, and representation. The comments, votes, and voices of the participating girls will be used to inform decisions at a regional, national, and institutional level. For more information about the ongoing process and results of the project, visit UNICEF’s official project page (available in English and Spanish).
Feeling inspired? Discover more:
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- Engaging young residents in local policy-making process: 5 key learnings
Interested in setting up a consultation in your own community? Get in touch today!