Twenty-three years ago, August 12th was proclaimed as International Youth Day. However, youth movements’ activism is historic, especially in Central America and Mexico. In this region, young people have been at the forefront of social change, injecting energy into mobilization for action and protest in the face of changing contexts.
In recent years, youth mobilization in Central America and Mexico has catalyzed the creation of new narratives. In 2015, Guatemalan youth led and supported historic demonstrations against corruption. That same year, Honduran youth inspired and mobilized society with the “marches of the torches” against corruption and impunity in the country. And in 2018, Nicaraguan youth opposed the Ortega regime and defended democracy from the frontlines, which devastatingly came at a high cost with respect to their lives and freedom.
Throughout the region, youth are central to the fight for human rights, and young feminists are no exception. Armed with their voice, courage, and optimism, they have developed important strategies for the defense of women’s and girls’ rights, including the arduous, decades-long fight for a woman’s right to choose. They also keep historic memory alive as a form of resistance, participate in designing strategies for political advocacy and social development, and defend land rights, freedoms, and equality. How can we not be inspired seeing them continue forward, especially in the face of regressions in rights from governments?
CAMY Fund, an initiative of the Seattle International Foundation (SIF), supports youth as one of its strategies to support social justice and equity in the region. It is the only philanthropic fund dedicated exclusively to strengthening youth movements in Central America and Mexico. Since its creation in 2014, CAMY Fund has worked closely with youth- and young feminist-led collectives, platforms, and organizations.
CAMY Fund currently supports more than 80 partner organizations through a funding modality based on trust, with the understanding that organizations need autonomy and flexibility to work towards social change.
Working with youth also requires an understanding of their realities, their contexts, their forms of communication, and their needs. Most members of the CAMY Fund team are young people who are active in social movements in the region, and we work hand in hand with our grantee partners to support their mobilization actions and the defense of their rights, which are the same rights for all.
It is important to remember that youth are not just the future – they are the present. They are not a promise – they are a living force. They are not mere participants – they are change agents with the ability to influence major social, cultural, and political shifts. It is also important to recognize that today´s struggles were preceded by generations of young people who laid the foundation and forged a way for newer generations to continue building, according to their worldviews and realities.
This month, SIF will be launching a campaign to show the faces and stories of youth who work for social change in the region, including those who must do so from exile and anonymity as a result of persecution and political repression. We will also release the findings of “Disruptive Youth Movements in Mexico, Central America and Colombia”, a pioneering study on how youth organize, question, participate, and resist.
We invite you to engage with this campaign throughout the month, and to join us on our social media channels on August 18, at 12:00 p.m. Central American time, to talk about how Latin American youth create disruption to transform their reality.
Program Director, Central America and Mexico Youth (CAMY) Fund