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If I -a girl- were president…

Girls participated in the II National Encounter “Education Policies with a gender approach”, which took place on November 27th in Lima, Peru.

If I were a president (drawing)
Drawing made by one of the girls who participated in the Congress

What would you change if you were President? That was the question that guided the reflection process of the encounter organised by Red Florecer –a collective in which Plan International participates-, the Canadian embassy and UNICEF.

Girls from 14 regions of Peru gathered to analysis the current situation of Peruvian girls and to create solutions for them. Then, they asked presidential candidates (who also attended the Congress) to hear and incorporate their needs and proposals into their governmental plans. As a result, all main presidential candidates signed the agenda “Education Policies with Gender Approach from the Voices of Girls”, created fully by girls.

Leslie Arlequé Silva (13) is a Plan International’s sponsored girl, who is also a youth representative from her community and who participates in Plan International’s trainings about sexual and reproductive health for teenagers.  In the Encounter, she was part of the working group that created proposal number 3, regarding gender discrimination in schools.

Leslie Arlequé
Leslie Arlequé

“In my school, gender discrimination starts in the most basic things. For example, teachers say: ‘Good morning alumnos [male students]’ instead of ‘alumnos’ and ‘alumnas’ (male and female students). Or when we (girls) want to play soccer with our male peers, the teachers say ‘But why don’t you play volleyball? Just leave them alone’ instead of interceding for us. They still relate girls to volleyball, house and children, and boys to soccer, basket, running, street and work”, she explains.

However, thanks to this encounter, Leslie and other girls have been able to create solutions that will be adopted by the future government.

Here is the agenda created by the girls:

Proposal 1: We want to go through high school until the end. We propose:

  • Monitoring the implementation of Law N°29600, which promotes the reintegration of pregnant high school students.
  • Securing a safe journey to schools for girls.
  • Securing the basic conditions for everyone to attend school, entailing a school food program.

Proposal 2: We demand respect. No more violence against girls. We propose:

  • Promoting and strengthening mutual help groups for girls and boys, so we can share experiences about violence prevention and assistance. We also ask that public and private institutions implement more awareness actions about violence prevention and assistance.
  • Strengthening girls’ and boys’ capacities to prevent violence. We want schools that question gender stereotypes that constrain our full potential. We want schools where we can develop and become stronger and more confident to take our own decisions.
  • Implementing violence assistance services in our communities. These services must know how to attend girls specifically, we should be able to speak in our native languages there and they should respect our culture.

Proposal 3: We are capable. We want to study without being discriminated. We propose:

  • Promoting a gender-inclusive language at school and public spaces. This way we can feel we, girls, are as important as boys.
  • Gender-aware education and training for teachers.
  • Including a gender approach in all our learning activities.

Proposal 4: We want healthy schools and more attention to our health and sexuality. We propose:

  • Having access to high-quality health services. We need permanent health centres with qualified professionals who speak in our language.
  • Attending our sexual and reproductive health. We deserve to be informed and assisted by specialists. We need access to contraceptives without the presence of our parents or tutors.
  • Living in a healthy environment, free of mining or oil contamination. Authorities must guarantee that companies do not contaminate our rivers and forests. We all deserve drinking water and basic sanitary facilities. We also ask for trainings in healthy and balanced nutrition.

Proposal 5: We demand to be heard. We want to be leaders. We propose:

  • That leaders and authorities listen to what we have to say because it is our right to express our opinions and to be herd. We need more spaces like this encounter where we can establish a genuine dialogue.
  • More after-school activities. We need more spaces to develop our skills in different fields (art, sports, etc.).
  • Leadership and participation spaces for girls must include the voices of Andean and Amazonian girls too. And this participation must be communicated, promoted and made visible by authorities and the government.