Behind the Voices - "It is our mission as youth to continue fighting for our beliefs"
- 36 Articles
Please introduce yourself :
Jorge Rafael Ramirez, I am an Afro-Peruvian young man, I'm 22 years old and I was born in Lima but I grew up in a district far from the city called Ventanilla. I am an activist for the Human Rights and social inclusion of Afro descendants in Peru who have been completely marginalized and made invisible by state and society in our history, which resulted in the serious daily problems of racism, discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunities.
Committed to this reality that affects my people, I studied social work career in order to contribute to the promotion and education of ethnically excluded social groups so that they can deal with active and effective exercise of their rights. I work creating development spaces for Afro-Peruvian youth so they can train and have the necessary tools to be leaders and they can join in this great struggle for social inclusion, while putting in public and political agenda, the problems of Afro Peruvians especially youth, so that from that space can be made specific public policies that contribute to our development.
What are the expectations of young people in your country or community?
We have the expectations of a more inclusive country, where youth can participate in all society areas, engaging in both medium and great decisions of the country. In these years, youth from Peru and Latin America has entered into an internalization of reality and unmeasurable activism, around organizations with convictions of a social, economic and political change. Peru is not the exception, and organized Peruvian youth try to influence in local, national and regional decisions, from the negotiation tables and dialogue to major socio-political mobilizations making our voice heard.
Why is youth participation in today’s society very important/necessary ?
Young people are often seen as commodities and not as rights holders, and this is reflected in the overwhelming advertisers campaigns in our country where they are the main characters. Young people have a new and innovative change dynamic that adults usually don't have, this is why is necessary and important to have their participation in society to give a new drive to development, creating, modifying and applying tools and techniques that transform the action. It is important to create spaces for young people where they can participate with vote and decision so they can be involved in the future they want for the nation, their community and themselves.
The participation of vulnerable ethnic groups is especially important to defend and promote their rights, as in my experience with the Afro Peruvian youth; The fight for the rights of Afro is currently in a generational change process where young people are now taking leading roles participating and promoting our demands to reach the social inclusion.
Are you engaged in civic issues? If so, what do you do?
My organization is the Black Association for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (Asociación Negra de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos - ASONEDH in Spanish) which is an organization that fights against racism, all forms of discrimination and works for the development of Afro-Peruvian communities nationwide. In 2005 we created the project Ashanti Peru - Peruvian Network of African Descent Youth in which we gathered young leaders, sons and daughters of Afro Peruvian leaders in the country committed to the generational change in the fight for human rights and began to engage youth Afro in the development of their society. As the Director of the Youth Programme of ASONEDH, I work with young people in workshops, training and actions to strengthen identity, leadership, Human Rights and political advocacy for young people from Afro communities, most of them rural communities, as well as public policies promoting social inclusion that empower Afro Peruvian youth in real community development and their place in decision-making spaces at local, regional and national levels. We participate in different public-private spaces to put on the agenda the subject of Afro Peruvian youth in dialogue and debate meetings.
What is your motto or your favorite expression ?
An Ethiopian Proverb: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion”.
Is there any advice or message you want to give to youth?
It is our mission as youth to continue fighting for our beliefs, often we will not find support or resources to operate, educate and mobilize social groups to make our voice heard, but our commitment to social change should strengthen and encourage us to continue working despite adversity. We need our continued active participation to include ourselves in the process of socio-economic development, exercise our rights and democracy. Let's create networks, alliances and a collective force for change in our community!