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Second Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: the Role of Youth
The Second Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was held October 6th – 9th in Mexico City. The conference focused on the Montevideo Consensus—one of the most advanced treaties on human rights in the region. Adopted in 2013, this agreement focuses on policies and lines of action that governments in our region pledged to follow. The Consensus addresses issues such as aging and social protection, rights, needs and demands of children, universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and gender equality.
The importance of this agreement becomes even more evident when looking at the current situation of countries in the region. There are many social ills that are still rooted in our societies today and will require hard work to eradicate, including the marginalization of certain groups, poverty, conservative influence on sexual health and rights, violence, and disregard for social development policies. That’s why this conference is essential, and during it the progress and areas of difficulty will be evaluated in order to find various ways to achieve the agreement.
Now, when you stop to think of an international government meeting, the participation of young people doesn’t usually come to mind. So why is there insistence (and emphasis) on our participation? Many times it’s alleged that we don’t have experience or a university degree to be able to understand the legal issues or governing of these events. However, the answer lies elsewhere. It lies in the fact that young people are the population that face the most vulnerability in the region, but also possess an unimaginable capacity to mobilize and make our voices heard. On the other hand, we live in a hyper-connected and globalized world that’s evolving by leaps and bounds and is constantly changing. Therefore, we have (and encourage) a fresh and renewed vision that helps the Consensus to be more current and applicable to the context in which we live.
Of course the work is not simply relegated to the Conference. Every day, thousands of young people in the region work and volunteer to promote their rights, to encourage other couples to know how to protect themselves, to show why it’s important to develop personal goals in life, and of course, to try to influence in spaces that they frequent: their schools, colleges, neighborhoods, cities, and countries. As young people, the Consensus is one of the strongest tools we have to ensure that our governments fulfill their obligations to us.
Finally, although it’s almost a cliché phrase, "Let's build the world we want to leave for our children," refers to us. I think that’s wrong. The world that we live in now should be built by everyone. We can’t wait for tomorrow to begin to act; change must happen today. It’s because of all this that young people play a fundamental role in the Conference.