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Empowering youth for change in Colombia

Girls and boys join together to bring the message of gender equality to their municipal Council

Girls and boys join together to bring the message of gender equality to their municipal Council

At Plan, young people aren’t just at the heart of what we do, they’re a vital part of how we do it. After all, no one knows more about their issues than they do or can advocate as credibly for positive change.

And when you are confronting issues like gender inequality, it’s vital to reach and engage both boys and girls to bring about real and lasting change.

That’s why with your support, we’ve been working with young people in Colombia to address gender violence and discrimination, which are big issues in many communities.

Imparting knowledge through art

Equipping young people with knowledge about their rights – especially the rights of girls – is the first step in supporting them to make a difference. And one of the most effective ways of doing this is through art, which has the power to engage, educate, and inspire like nothing else.

With this in mind, we’ve been organizing theatre and street dance troupes among Colombian girls and boys who have travelled throughout their communities raising awareness of gender-based sexual abuse and violence.

With art as the medium and young people as the messenger, attitudes among both girls and boys are already changing. Indeed, initial reports of a drop in female-targeted violence in local schools that have hosted these performances suggest that the messages are getting through.

Mobilizing political outreach

We’re also empowering young people to get involved in the political process to promote child rights and gender equality.

So far, 180 youth have participated in initiatives targeting local governments through a Municipal Youth Round Table and a series of workshops and outreach efforts, such as a “Councillors for a Day” initiative that allowed students to participate directly in a local Council session.

While the majority of students involved have been girls, boys play a vital role as well.

“We stand up as a group, showing everyone that this is important not just to girls but to all of us,” says one of the boys who took part in a workshop.

For girls, of course, the programs have special value and help them directly challenge the kinds of social attitudes that would hold them back.

“When we went to the council session we noticed that there was only one woman among the councillors,” says one of the girls. “That gave us extra motivation to speak up and say, ‘Gentlemen, we want you to hear our proposals because there are so many problems for girls.’”

Return to the Because I am a girl project