A new approach to strengthen collaboration across borders

By Vanessa Stevens | August 23, 2019 | The Americas | Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment

Three organizations, two countries, and one new transnational collaboration impacting the lives of migrant children.

Addressing complex challenges like migration requires collaborative problem solving across borders.  That’s why we launched the Adolescent Girls and Migration initiative, a transnational network of local organizations protecting the rights of migrant girls, in 2018. Each gathering of the network is bursting with new connections and inspiring ideas to strengthen the agency of migrant girls. We decided to challenge our partners to put their ideas into collective action through our first Impact Across Borders grant to strengthen transnational collaboration.

We challenged members of the initiative – 12 organizations across three countries – to design collaborative projects impacting migrant girls across at least one border, and then vote as a network to award the winning project $15,000 in funding.

The votes are in, and we’re excited to share the network’s top choice: Bringing Migrant Children Together Across Borders. This project seeks to create solidarity across the Guatemala-Mexico border by connecting children and youth through a series of exchanges in their respective communities. The exchanges will recognize youth’s shared struggles and develop their leadership and advocacy skills to call for change.

The project will bring special attention to the needs of migrant girls and indigenous youth, emphasizing a human rights, gender, and ethnocultural perspective to recognize the diversity of the migratory experience.

The creators of the project include indigenous-led Colectivo Vida Digna based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and leading human rights defense organizations Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías and Iniciativas para el Desarrollo Humano based in Tapachula, Mexico.

Colectivo Vida Digna and GFC co-lead a gender workshop with migrant youth.

According to the organizations, “As children and adolescents are fleeing, mobilizing, and reaching territories, it is urgent that they can receive proper international protection and take part in initiatives that strengthen their agency, their dreams, and their courage to pursue a dignified life.”

On the Guatemala-Mexico border, local organizations are facing increased challenges to protect human rights due to increased militarization, inhumane detention center conditions, and asylum restrictions. For migrants forced to return to their communities of origin, they receive little to no reintegration support. Children and youth, especially girls and young people from indigenous communities, are among the most vulnerable in origin, transit, destination, and return.

We launched the Impact Across Borders transnational collaboration grant to bring to life the connections and ideas emerging from the network to fill gaps in service, advocate for policy changes, and create empowering, safe spaces for migrant girls. Recognizing that grassroots organizations best understand local problems and solutions, we designed a participatory grantmaking process for our partners to decide which initiative would further the aims of the network.

An important aspect of Impact Across Borders is fostering reflection, lessons learned, and dialogue to influence the conversation about migration and children’s rights. Throughout the course of the Bringing Migrant Children Together Across Borders project, leaders will capture their best practices to share with the network and beyond. We are excited to see the research findings, youth-centered participatory methodologies, and young migrant leaders who emerge from the cross-border youth exchange.

The Adolescent Girls and Migration initiative supports a cohort of 12 civil society organizations through core flexible funding, network facilitation, and capacity development to strengthen their programs and advocacy to protect the safety and rights of migrant girls in Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States.


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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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