I am Generation Equality: Ixchel Lucas, youth advocate for girls’ leadership
Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
I am Generation Equality because…
Adolescent and young girls should have the space and opportunity to lead without fear of discrimination or violence.
Three things you can do to become part of Generation Equality:
- Believe in the potential of adolescent and young girls
- Give them spaces to speak up, starting at home, and listen to them
- Encourage adolescent and young girls to participate in public spaces
I was selected by my peers to represent my class and organize students when I was seven. I liked having the opportunity to express my opinion and to participate in social and cultural events. Over time, I started raising awareness about the challenges that adolescent and young girls face in Guatemala, where I am from. More of our voices should be heard.
Stepping up during the global pandemic
Even before COVID-19 hit, the situation was difficult for girls and women. In many places, women are still not allowed to speak up. Food is served first to boys and men, and the best pieces of food are reserved for them.
The challenges young girls face in Guatemala have worsened during COVID-19. Lack of access to the Internet, smart phones and computers is hampering their access to education. Additionally, girls are facing increased domestic violence and have been forced to continue living with their abusers, and support services are limited. As a result, we are seeing an increase in teenage pregnancies and maternal and child mortality – particularly in the rural areas, where there is a marked lack of access to proper healthcare.
I had the opportunity to raise these issues during a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on behalf of other young girls. Governments should invest more in supporting us by increasing healthcare services, enhancing services to survivors of violence and increasing access to education.
No limits to what can be achieved
“Society has a lot to learn from adolescent and young girls.”
What keeps me going is that I have seen that [when given a platform] we can achieve.
I am part of the “Las Niñas Lideran” (Girls Lead) organization and following our advocacy work a few years ago, our municipality, Concepción Chiquirichapa adopted a new policy covering education, health, protection, participation and culture. The municipality held education fairs with multiple schools, providing children and adolescents with information on HIV, teenage pregnancy, girls’ leadership and more. There were also numerous cultural activities led by adolescent girls, [to raise awareness of] and mitigate the risk of rising suicide among adolescent girls. .
Society has a lot to learn from adolescent and young girls, as we see problems through very different lens.
Ixchel María José Lucas Adolfo, 21, is the Training Coordinator at Las Niñas Lideran in Guatemala and a youth leader in the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence. She is also currently studying Physiotherapy. The Action Coalitions are global, innovative partnerships with governments, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector, convened in the context of the Generation Equality Forum. They aim to catalyze collective action, drive increased public and private investment, and deliver game-changing results for women and girls everywhere..