Supporting Passionate Young Leaders in Central America

Rise Up adolescent leaders and adult allies in Central America share collages they made at a recent convening

Rise Up is deeply committed to supporting the next generation of leaders in the gender equity and justice movement. A few weeks ago, we brought together an engaged group of adolescent leaders (ages 11-17) and their allies from partner organizations in Guatemala and Honduras for a three-day virtual convening focused on improving programs, policies, and projects for adolescent girls. Rise Up and local partner organizations had a shared goal in mind: to build strategic alliances across countries and strengthen the advocacy capacity of adolescent leaders. 

The virtual space was a rich environment to connect, learn, and collaborate. The interactive sessions covered a broad spectrum of topics focused on laws, policies and local contexts, tools for advocacy and media, and creative techniques for engaging adolescent girls in advocacy.

Adolescent leaders Danesly, Kemberly, and Danha during a panel discussion at Rise Up’s convening

During one panel session, young leaders shared what inspires them to keep speaking up for themselves and their peers in a panel titled “Best Practices for Implementation of Advocacy Projects.” They opened up about their own advocacy experiences, what it was like to work with key decision makers, strategies they tried, and the challenges they faced. Many of the young leaders who attended the virtual convening were previous attendees of earlier Rise Up trainings focused on girl-centered advocacy in Guatemala and Honduras. Here’s what two of the panelists shared:

“Muchas veces los gobiernos locales no tienen toda la disponibilidad o la misma postura que nosotras, pero generar alianzas con ellos y con otras organizaciones y con el respaldo que nos da Rise Up en cada uno de estos proyectos es algo que genera mucha fuerza en lo que estamos haciendo.” 

“Many times, local governments do not have the time for us or the same position as us but creating alliances with them and with other organizations and with the support that Rise Up gives us in each of our projects is something that strengthens what we are doing.”

– Danha, Rise Up adolescent leader & panelist, Guatemala

“Yo siempre he dicho que quiero ser la voz para las niñas que no están aquí y que tal vez están pero tiene miedo de alzarla la voz. Esa sigue siendo mi meta, poder dar un mensaje de que ellas tienen derechos conozcan sobre sus derechos.” 

“I have always said that I want to be the voice for the girls who are not here and who maybe are but are afraid to raise their voices. That continues to be my goal, to be able to give a message that they have rights and know about their rights.”

– Kemberly, Rise Up adolescent leader & panelist, Honduras

The adolescent leaders also exercised their artistic muscles through collectively authoring a creative story and creating visual collages based on concepts that resonated with them from the convening, including: impact, unity, advocacy, and trust.

Adolescent leaders from UN MUNDO attending the virtual convening

This was Rise Up’s first virtual convening in Central America, and our in-country staff worked closely with local partner organizations to ensure the young leaders were set up for success by providing connectivity stipends and access to computers and reliable internet.

The adolescent leaders wrapped up the convening feeling proud of all that they learned and with an even deeper commitment to advocacy for and led by girls. One participant shared at the end of the convening, “I loved this workshop. I hope to be able to participate in many more and gain more knowledge to be able to raise my voice for those people who cannot and, above all, be the future of my country.” 

The success of the convening would not have been possible without the integral support of our in-country staff and local partner organizations in Honduras and Guatemala, including: Alfalit De Honduras, Udimuf, Un Mundo, Paz Y Justicia, Forosida, Ecumenicas, Siloe, Ademi, Amtedich, Colectivo Joven, Maya Pedal, And Paz Joven.

We are also extremely grateful to our funding partners The Summit Foundation and WestWind Foundation who made this important work with adolescent leaders in Central America possible. 

We look forward to sharing future updates about these changemakers in Central America and all that they accomplish.