NIMD’s (Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy) Youth +D project – ‘Jóvenes+D’ in Spanish – aims to integrate youth perspectives into national and municipal decision making and policy making in Guatemala. By providing capacity building and access to decision-making structures, the project gives young people greater ‘power and voice’. The project has delivered concrete results, with participants having successfully influenced the National Youth Policy 2021-2032. In addition, participants in the Youth+D training have co-designed six Municipal Youth Policies.
Thanks to the project, these new policies will reflect the real views, voices and needs of young people. As such, they will be more effective in responding to the realities and challenges facing young persons in Guatemala today. What is more, they will reflect the voices of underrepresented groups, namely young women and young indigenous persons, whose voices too often go unheard in policy making.
Last, creating a network of self-confident young leaders is vital for the sustainability of results and future work to bring about change.
All of NIMD’s activities aim to respond
to the lived realities of the participants, adapt to their evolving needs and ensure accessibility for all. For example, one participant recommendation in the municipal trainings was to improve language accessibilty. Hence, depending on the location, the trainings are offered in Mayan languages and the communications materials are produced in Spanish and major Mayan languages.
NIMD as a trusted facilitator
Crucial to the dialogue process is to ensure that the facilitator is accepted as an expert by all social and political actors involved. In the municipal dialogues, NIMD’s long-standing reputation as an impartial organisation in Guatemala, is key to fostering a safe space that allows trust-building and participation.
Collaborations with the governmental institutions
NIMD’s work with local governments and municipal authorities (such as local mayors and councillors) has been decisive in the dialogue process in the regions. This generates trust and good coordination and encourages key actors to participate. Local government representatives are also part of the dialogues on Municipal Youth Policies, an approach that has helped garner political buy-in for youth perspectives.
The NIMD Youth +D project, supported by Sida, adopts an integrated approach to promoting youth participation, particularly among those from under-represented groups. Through this, NIMD works with young people to reinforce their democratic knowledge, skills and culture.
NIMD supports young people by strengthening their dialogue and presentation skills and providing them with flexible funding. This is to ensure that they are able to influence those in power, present proposals on issues that affect their lives and seek accountability from decision makers.
Steps towards National Youth Policies
NIMD helped create a participatory process to include youth voices effectively during the development of the Guatemalan National Youth Policy. In 2020, NIMD mobilised and convened a youth movement – the so-called ‘Alliance for Youth’ – to serve as a technical support body to the National Youth Council.
To kickstart this participatory process, the Alliance for Youth drafted policy recommendations for formulating the new National Youth Policy 2021-2032. The document was called “Six million reasons: proposals from Guatemalan youth for a national youth policy that eradicates inequalities”, bringing together contributions from 95 (youth) collectives. The National Youth Council incorporated these recommendations into the development of the National Youth Policy.
In 2021 and 2022, NIMD provided financial and advocacy support for the Alliance for Youth to continue lobbying for the new National Youth Policy. By the end of 2022, the draft policy had been reviewed by the Presidency’s Secretariat of Planning and Programming and is currently pending review before final approval.
From a National Youth Policy towards Municipal Youth Policies
A National Youth Policy is one thing, but translating results to the local level is another. NIMD developed a participatory methodology for guiding young people working in the municipality to join a participatory dialogue process for developing a Municipal Youth Policy.
About the stages
Youth +D consists of three stages: training through a Diploma in Knowledge to Transform, organisational reinforcement for participating on the municipal stage, and dialogue processes.
The Diploma in Knowledge to Transform trains young people from different backgrounds on democratic competencies. Participants attended weekly, two-hour sessions (online, due to COVID-19) with an assigned teacher over four months as well as conferences with thematic experts. To allow the young people to become true agents of change, they were trained in modules on relations of power in Guatemala, multidimensional poverty, power, oppression and political subjects, the environment, and political innovation. Almost 300 young people from five departments were trained by 2022, including 209 women.
“The training processes have helped me to know ideas and perspectives different from mine. I have learnt to listen, and every time I left with other ideas in mind that have helped me to discover new situations. I also made friends with people from political parties with different ideologies, which was enriching to my political journey. ” – Fabiana Tejax, 27 years old
After imparting knowledge and skills through these trainings, NIMD continues its support, coaching participants to take part in the dialogue process on six Municipal Youth Policies. These were co-designed through a dialogue process by youth leaders and youth-led organisations working on a departmental and municipal level in rural areas of Guatemala, with NIMD support. Through this, we also focus on including voices that often go unheard, such as those of young women and indigenous youth.
By the end of 2022, four of six Municipal Youth Policies had been approved with two under review. Once the policies have been approved, it is important to follow up – through, for example, the elaboration of operational plans – to ensure commitment and action and ensure a longer-term impact.