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‘Women Can Change The World’

A powerful and passionate voice has emerged in Mexico’s struggle against COVID-19: young people. Through the National Committee of Youth, Project HOPE and AstraZeneca are giving young people in Mexico an opportunity to raise their voice for change — a chance that is especially powerful for young women.

Mexico has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 280,000 deaths and 3.7 million confirmed cases to date. The contributing factors are complex, but they include high underlying rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, which places the population at greater risk for serious illness.

As the public health crisis continues on, a powerful force has emerged in Mexico’s COVID-19 fight: youth leaders.

With funding support from AstraZeneca, Project HOPE worked with allies in the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors to launch a National Committee of Youth for COVID-19 Prevention in Mexico. To date, dozens of youth leaders have gained expertise in the prevention of COVID-19 and gone on to reach more than 8,000 community members with public health and personal safety information.

The result is a nationwide youth-led pandemic response focused on combating misinformation, preventing the spread of COVID-19, and fostering physical and mental resilience among youth, their families, and their communities.

The leadership opportunity is especially powerful for young women, who have been able to use it as a platform to raise their voice for change in their communities. Read on to hear from one participant in the program about the challenges girls in Mexico face, the opportunity the program has given her, and what it means to see her dreams become reality.

Veronica Martinez

Being a young person in Mexico means having hope, holding onto great ideas, and having a desire to transform the world. However, the biggest challenge before us is trying to show that being young is not synonymous with being weak, and that youth in Mexico are capable of creating a more prosperous and happy future for all.

Girls are told how they should be. What paths should they follow. They are forced to be silent, to accept situations they do not like. They are forced to abandon their dreams to follow the idea of what a woman is supposed to be like.

COVID-19 has made the problem worse by forcing us to stay at home in order to survive. For many girls and women, this has forced them to live with their aggressors, which has caused an increase in violence. On the other hand, the pandemic has also opened new spaces for reflection within families. It has made us question attitudes and actions and stop normalizing violence against women.

Recently, there was a nationwide call for young people to apply to become members of the National Committee of Youth COVID-19 Prevention. I am a proud resident of Puebla State, and I was honored to be chosen to represent my state. The program has allowed me to acquire knowledge about health care from experts in the field. I get to share my experiences and am in charge of spreading prevention and health care messages.

young girl in Mexico against a colorful brick wall

The program has helped me a lot. Through it, I learned how to improve and take care of my health, but it also helped empower me — to make me understand that my voice is important and that I am capable of doing everything I dream of.

I envision a future where women believe in their strength, where they stop allowing someone to make them feel inferior. A future where they feel proud to belong.

The attitude of women in Mexico is supportive. Women are learning to empower themselves, to believe that they are themselves a master of their own destiny. They are proud to be women. They prove themselves to be brave. Women are becoming explorers in new paths and new possibilities. They are excited about the paths they have yet to conquer, but they are also afraid. They are afraid that someone will clip their wings and prevent them from flying. And that is why women have started to raise our voices and have dared to leave the mold that we have been assigned since we were children.

I want to live in a world where women don’t have to be afraid to go out. A world where we do not have to remain silent. Where our achievements are celebrated and not minimized. Where our ideas are considered and executed and are not forgotten.

I want to help create a future where girls grow up safe and happy — for me, for those who are to come, but also for those who are no longer here.

Women can change the world. Women are brave, intelligent, strong and capable. We can do anything. Don’t stop us.

“I envision a future where women believe in their strength, where they stop allowing someone to make them feel inferior. A future where they feel proud to belong.”

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