Alida Macz (23) and Mayra Coc (2), belong to Maya Qeqch'i indigenous families in Alta Verapaz in northern Guatemala. Both have grown with the “Because I’m a Girl” campaign, since it began on October 11th, 2012. They have been trained with youth groups, became spokespersons for the campaign and have supported initiatives such as eliminating marriages of girls and boys under 18 years of age. This last initiative included training to members of the communities, collection of signatures to support the initiative of law on the Congress of the Republic.
They have had a strong role at the local, national level and have promoted the rights of girls nationally and internationally sharing their experiences in the communities. Alida and Mayra have changed important paradigms in their communities.
Although in August of 2017 the prohibition of marriages among people under 18 was achieved, in many rural communities continuing promoting and approving unions involving adolescents and young girls under 18 years, with either young men or with adult men.
This is a great concern for the spoke girls and adolescent of the movement “Because I´m a Girl” in Alta Verapaz, they face a society with rigid norms where the rights to learn, lead, decide and thrive of girls, adolescents and young women are practically invisible.
The spoke girl´s for the “Because I´m a Girl” movement has been formed 6 years ago. Each year more girls between the ages of 13 and 24 are invited to join the group with a training process on self-esteem, girls and adolescent´s rights, sexual and reproductive rights, gender violence prevention, leadership and political incidences. For most of these adolescents, it has been difficult to complete their education, access opportunities, the impact of participating in the “Because I´m a Girl” movement has been enormous. The HerMyVoice Award, has been a recognition of being heard in their efforts to be visible by society.
Alida, Mayra, Mirida Geidy Glenda and Jaquelin have formed a group to coordinate the project they called "Raising the Voice to Prevent Marriage and Unions of Adolescents under 18 years of age" that will be financed with funds from Norway thanks to the "Hear My Award" Voice ": This project will also involve 34 spoke girls of the movement “Because I´m a Girl”. This is the first project they will design, coordinate and implement with complete autonomy.
Plan International Guatemala will support their initiatives and offer support if necessary.
The teenagers have set as objectives for the project:
• To promote the raise of age for marriage to adolescents, young people and community authorities.
• To prevent problems related to early marriage and pregnancy in girls, boys and adolescent´s development.
• Political impact on community leaders: Community Development Committees (COCODES) and Municipal Corporation, through talks in the communities and training.
• Awareness through art: Aimed at adolescents in secondary schools through theatre plays with reflections and information (complaint routes, etc).