International Day of the Girl: The Struggle of Peruvian Adolescents to Be Heard
Tania and Sofia were born less than 18 years ago in different parts of Peru. One likes to read and study law, the other has a passion for volleyball and aspires to be an anthropologist, but both share the same goal of encouraging other girls and young women to speak up and protect women in a country they describe as “patriarchal.” .
Tanya’s voice is calm, her body language exudes firmness and security, and she feels tender when she talks about the projects she has promoted in her community, in the northern region of Piura.
The 17-year-old girl came up with an initiative called “Education for Pachamama (Mother Earth)” which, as explained to EFE, consists of promoting environmental education through talks and seminars.
In parallel, he also participated in the creation of a project to organize motorcycle taxis in his community, light motorized tricycles similar to the Thai “tuk-tuk” and the Pakistani “chand ghari”.
“We observe this problem that (teenage girls) went out late at night and we wanted to find a safe place for them so they could go home safely (…) They were (phone) numbers that were distributed through friends, WhatsApp contacts, trusted motorcycle taxis,” says, who says she wants to be a lawyer to “protect those who don’t have a voice.”
About 1,120 kilometers south of Piura, Sofia also rolled up its sleeves to transform its community from San Pedro de Carabayo in a “girl safe” zone.
Specifically, the organization she belongs to has done a kind of urban gender audit to locate and rehabilitate some dangerous areas of her community.
“We found a location that was infected by street sexual harassment and that many schoolgirls from a nearby school suffered,” the 16-year-old girl told EFE.
Sofia says she doesn’t quite know where this impulse for activism came from, but she feels it was shaped by the political debates she always heard at family dinners, and the “stereotypes, violence, machismo and inequalities it implies. being a teenager in Peru’.
Tanya and Sofia met recently at school activities. NGO Plan International, which, on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, gathered twenty young people in Lima, where they held workshops focused on the political participation of girls and adolescents.
“Participation is a right, a principle and the basis of other rights. A little girl that she feels empowered and can have a voice over her life (…) she will later exercise a much more powerful citizenship,” Selmira Carreon, technical coordinator in Peru for the participation of childhood and youth mobilization by Plan International.
In the Andean country, Carreon recalls, there are so-called advisory councils for children and adolescents, which are spaces made up of minors between the ages of 9 and 17.
However, in practice, more than 30% of the district councils and more than half in the case of the provinces have yet to be installed, always according to the spokesperson of NGOwhich recalls that Peru has a teenage pregnancy rate of 12% and a high number of disappearances and forced marriages.
Along these lines, a report published this month by Plan International states that “girls are discouraged from participating in politics because of both their age and their gender” because “as girls, they are hindered by gender stereotypes and inequality and later, as young people, they are dismissed as too immature.
According to the survey, only half of girls believe it is acceptable for them to be active in their communities, one in ten believe women are not qualified to be political leaders and only one in four see themselves as candidates for political charge.
A REBEL TO BE FREE
But many others remain steadfast in their desire to change that course.
“We cannot talk about equality in a country where those who make the important decisions are mostly men (…) The old and entrenched patriarchal, conservative order does not want us in power and in the political space because they know that we are those that will promote public political truths that break with inequality,” says Sofia.
The young woman insists on the need to be rebels because: “we want each other free and we strive for a future and a world where we are not forced or ignored.”
“Let’s turn this outrage and anger into an alliance,” he argued.