Editor’s note: This post is also available in Spanish.
“Studies have shown that girls multiply the impact of an investment made in their future by extending benefits to the world around them, creating a better life for their families and building stronger communities.”
With this powerful statement, 20 adolescent girls from Asociación Coincidir, one of GFC’s partner organizations in Guatemala for the Empowering Adolescent Girls Initiative, kicked off their forum with eight mayoral candidates for the San Luis Jilotepeque municipality, located in the eastern department of Jalapa.
The forum, which took place May 25, preceded national elections on June 16, when Guatemalans will march to the voting polls to elect their President and Vice-President, congressional representatives, and municipal mayors to serve for the next four years.
In his opening statement, Saúl Interiano, Coincidir’s Director, spoke about the difficulties facing adolescent girls who wish to exercise their right to vote.
Many of the 20 adolescent girls organizing the event turned 18 – the legal voting age in Guatemala – just in time for these elections. However, the path to registering with Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Supremo Electoral, or TSE, in Spanish) was challenging. Some had to make multiple journeys from their communities to the TSE’s main office in San Luis Jilotepeque, as they would find it closed during work hours.
With support from Coincidir, these girls have constructed a municipal policy proposal that centers on their right to education, health, sociocultural participation, economic freedom, and a life free of violence in all its forms. Its proposed activities and projects seek to promote the integral development of girls and adolescents in San Luis Jilotepeque. These include:
The purpose of the forum was to secure the candidates’ endorsement so that whomever is elected has publicly stated that they are committed to supporting the policy and to assigning a budget to support its proposed activities. The girls also questioned candidates on what concrete actions they propose to improve the lives of girls in their communities.
At the end of the forum, which was also open to community members, the girls read a letter of commitment in support of the policy, which was then signed by each of the eight mayoral candidates.
The girls closed the forum with yet another poignant statement to remind candidates of the importance of supporting policies by and for adolescent girls:
“Including girls and adolescents in family, community, and municipal-level decision-making guarantees a complete view of reality, thus helping to promote innovative solutions to the challenges we face.”
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