Campaigning for the Needs of Youth in Guatemala
In May 2017, 30 youths organizations from Guatemala joined forces and launched the campaign #SerJovenEsUnDerecho (Being Young is a Right) to advocate for the State to formulate public policies in their favor. The messages of the campaign were disseminated in 17 of the 22 departments of Guatemala, reaching 500,000 people through social networks alone.
A young message for a young country
Even though 69% of the Guatemalan population is less than 30 years old, the voices and demands of young people are not usually taken into account in the country's public policies. Some sectores of Guatemala’s society are still very conservative and legislators from traditional political parties have narrow views when it comes to empowering youths and minorities. Civil society organizations have been pushing Congress to pass legislation to benefit youths, introducing over the last decade, two law initiatives that have not been approved; one of these is the National Law for the Development of Youths (Law 5208).
This significance of this campaign, developed by the National Youth Front (FNJ) and the Peasant Workers Movement (MCJ), is that it placed young leaders in the national spot light, bringing to the public opinion arena the need to recognize and respect youths’ rights. Furthermore, it facilitated spaces for young leaders to meet with State actors such as congressmen and municipal authorities, to directly engage them in favor of Law 5208, and ask them to share the campaign’s messages.
“We want to ensure that decision makers incorporate the demands promoted by young leaders and partners of the program in the development and implementation of public policies and youth laws on social inclusion and economic opportunities with an emphasis on decent youth employment. More specifically we seek approval of the initiative of Youth Law 5208”, stated the young leaders in their campaign manifesto.
Over all, #SerJovenEsUnDerecho involved district council members, national Congressmen and Congresswomen, and members of the National Congress’ Youth Commission. Artists, television personalities and young influencers from Guatemala were appointed ambassadors to spread the campaign's messages.
Making it visible
Guatemala is still a country with low connectivity levels, which is why besides social media, organizers of the campaign also used traditional media, particularly television and radio. Through the main radio and television stations of Guatemala (Guatevisión, Fger, Radio DeZurda, Sonora, Emisoras Unidas, among others), the campaign reached audiences in rural and remote areas.
Developed in the framework of the CEA Youth Empowerment and Inclusion project, #SerJovenEsUnDerecho achieved the impact expected by its organizers, thanks to the fact that youth movements collectively took part in special campaign activities, like the Candle Lighting Chain, simultaneously carried out by young people in 10 departments to demand the approval of Law 5208.
Even though this law has still not been passed, this campaign proved that young people across Guatemala demand legislation to promote their inclusion and empowerment and most importantly, it helped make visible the historical debt that this nation has with its youths.