Girl Leaders Gather in Guatemala to Raise Their Voices for Change

In January, Rise Up facilitated a training for adolescent girls in Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala, through our Girls’ Voices Initiative. Twenty-two girls, ages eleven to eighteen, along with ten adult allies participated in a five day workshop, which focused on leadership development, advocacy, community organization, communication, and networking. Roxana, a 14-year-old participant, along with Emerita Valdez, Rise Up’s Country Representative for Honduras, attended the training from neighboring Honduras. They shared their reflections on the inspiring convening, where adolescent girls came together to amplify their voices and lead change in their communities. Read on for their reflections and photos.

The girl leaders, adult allies, trainers, and Rise Up staff who participated in our Girls’ Voices Initiative training in Guatemala in January

Roxana, 14, Honduras

What motivates or inspires you most in your work as a teen leader?

My inspiration for working on behalf of other girls comes from knowing how other girls have stopped dreaming and abandoned their studies, which holds back their future. I am convinced that if they go to school and they know their rights, a better future awaits them, and that is why I do this work.

What achievement do you feel most proud of?

I am a leader, and that makes me feel proud. I can go to school, work on topics that I like, meet new people, and have visited countries that I never would have imagined.

What was most memorable about the workshop?

Amazement at what girls are doing for other girls, and that their commitment is admirable.

What was the most important thing you learned?

I learned that I have power and a voice that has to be heard by those who make the decisions for Honduran girls and adolescents.

What are your future goals?

To be an advocate for the rights of girls as a lawyer.

Emerita Valdez, Rise Up Country Representative, Honduras

At the end of the “Girls’ Voices” training, I am convinced of this: When girls and adolescents use their voices to highlight problems, there is hope for solutions because girls are unbiased and open. The girls and adolescents also recognize that they need to highlight these problems for the girls whose voice can’t be heard.

Their experiences created bonds of sisterhood and solidarity that will motivate them to continue their creative and committed activism.

With their voices the girls are breaking barriers and encouraging others to join efforts to reach decision makers and change their environments. Investing in the voices of girls and adolescents is a solid, lasting, and transformative investment, since the girls of today are the women of tomorrow.

Two girl leaders working together to identify the root causes of problems that affect girls in their communities

Girls participating in a team building activity designed to create trust and challenge their creativity

A girl leader and her adult ally

Girl leaders working on the proposals they hope to implement as part of their advocacy plans

A girl leader reflecting on the day’s lessons