“My name is Yenifer and I am 18 years old. I am an adolescent empowered in the protection of the rights of girls and adolescents in El Salvador.
I have had the opportunity to see the realities that many girls and adolescents have experienced around different forms of violence – whether it be sexual, physical or emotional violence.
I joined a community activism and campaign group when I was 15 to educate other youth and their parents about human rights and gender equality issues. I am the only girl in my community to go to high school, amongst a school of 300 students.
It was hard at first, especially as everyone would say to me, “she’s going to get pregnant and eventually drop out”. I see a similar cycle in my community. Girls drop out of school and then they fall pregnant. For me, that was personal motivation to continue going to school.
Knowledge can never be taken away from us, and if we are meant to eradicate violence against women, for example, we must know what needs to be done. We have laws, but we do not enforce them.
I always had good grades, and knew I wanted to be a good person. My parents say to me, “we don’t want you to turn out like us”. My mother’s childhood was terrible, as she witnessed a lot of abuse and violence.
Gender equality is a huge topic in my community. I feel that we undervalue girls and women in my community. It’s important to become educated and express our concerns to our mayor, asking questions like “why doesn’t a woman run for mayor?”
When I am older, I want to study media and communications to raise my voice and transmit information to my community. Technology is available to everyone and it should be used to educate people.”
Yenifer is part of a project led by Plan International in El Salvador, which trains girls and women to push for gender equality in El Salvador. The group was formed to influence the development and implementation of SDG 5 on gender equality.