I am Generation Equality: Ixchel Lucas, youth advocate for girls’ leadership


An article from UN Women

I am Generation Equality because…

Adolescent and young girls should have the space and opportunity to lead without fear of discrimination or violence.

I was selected by my peers to represent my class and organize students when I was seven. I liked having the opportunity to express my opinion and to participate in social and cultural events. Over time, I started raising awareness about the challenges that adolescent and young girls face in Guatemala, where I am from. More of our voices should be heard.

Ixchel Lucas. Photo: Las Niñas Lideran
Stepping up during the global pandemic

Even before COVID-19 hit, the situation was difficult for girls and women. In many places, women are still not allowed to speak up. Food is served first to boys and men, and the best pieces of food are reserved for them.

The challenges young girls face in Guatemala have worsened during COVID-19. Lack of access to the Internet, smart phones and computers is hampering their access to education. Additionally, girls are facing increased domestic violence and have been forced to continue living with their abusers, and support services are limited. As a result, we are seeing an increase in teenage pregnancies and maternal and child mortality – particularly in the rural areas, where there is a marked lack of access to proper healthcare.

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Questions for this article
Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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I had the opportunity to raise these issues during a high-level meeting  of the UN General Assembly on behalf of other young girls. Governments should invest more in supporting us by increasing healthcare services, enhancing services to survivors of violence and increasing access to education.

What keeps me going is that I have seen that [when given a platform] we can achieve.

I am part of the “Las Niñas Lideran” (Girls Lead) organization and following our advocacy work a few years ago, our municipality, Concepción Chiquirichapa adopted a new policy covering education, health, protection, participation and culture. The municipality held education fairs with multiple schools, providing children and adolescents with information on HIV, teenage pregnancy, girls’ leadership and more. There were also numerous cultural activities led by adolescent girls, [to raise awareness of] and mitigate the risk of rising suicide among adolescent girls. .

Society has a lot to learn from adolescent and young girls, as we see problems through very different lens.

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Ixchel María José Lucas Adolfo, 21, is the Training Coordinator at Las Niñas Lideran in Guatemala and a youth leader in the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence. She is also currently studying Physiotherapy. The Action Coalitions are global, innovative partnerships with governments, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector, convened in the context of the Generation Equality Forum. They aim to catalyze collective action, drive increased public and private investment, and deliver game-changing results for women and girls everywhere..