MEET Neydi Juracan, A YOUNG WOMAN ACTIVIST WORKING FOR ILC MEMBER, Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA) in Guatemala
Join us as we learn more about her views on food security and land rights, the role of youth in achieving people-centred land governance and the Sustainable Development Goals, and her experience as a woman activist in her organisation and community.
FOOD IS MUCH BIGGER THAN WHAT IS ON OUR PLATES. AS YOUNG LAND RIGHTS ACTIVISTS: WHAT IS GOOD FOOD FOR YOU? WHAT ROLE DOES LAND RIGHTS PLAY IN BRINGING GOOD FOOD TO THE PEOPLE?
Good food for me is about food that is in line with nutritional needs and cultural relation. We not only promote food security but also food sovereignty. In Guatemala, 70% of food comes from family farming. Food is produced but access to food is not guaranteed. An agro-ecological approach is needed. Agro-ecology is a mode of production, but also a political tool to talk about food sovereignty, women's and youth’s land rights and human rights.
BY 2030, OUR YOUTH WILL BE LEADING COMMUNITIES, ORGANISATIONS AND OUR WORLD.BUT WE CANNOT WAIT UNTIL THEN TO TAKE ACTION. WE NEED TO ACT NOW. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT YOUTH FACE TO BECOME LEADERS TO ADVOCATE FOR LAND RIGHTS? WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST TO OVERCOME THE CHALLENGE YOU MENTIONED?
Neydi: Land grabbing is a big problem for young people, as there is less and less land to access and inherit. There are no realistic development policies. There is a National Youth Commission, but they only organise job fairs and do not have a public policy perspective. Agrarian institutions are weak and programmes are difficult for young people to access. For example, to access the land fund, you have to be illiterate and, if you are a woman, you have to be a single mother or married. Rather than encouraging youth development, family formation is promoted. The creation of networks is a powerful strategy to strengthen youth: they allow better communication between them, build identity and, consequently, allow youth to grow roots in the field.
TO ACHIEVE THE SDG LAND TARGETS (SECURE LAND TENURE FOR ALL BY 2030) WE MUST ACCELERATE PCLG. THE ROLE OF YOUTH Is CENTRAL. WHAT ARE YOUNG PEOPLE’S MAIN STRENGTHS TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN AND WHAT KIND OF ROLE THAT THEY CAN PLAY?
Neydi: In Guatemala, more than 60% of the population is under 35 years old. This very situation of the country is forcing a generational change. In CCDA, young people participate politically, we have political training schools and we are part of the organisation's decision-making mechanisms (in the political commission as well as in the executive board), so we feel accompanied. We young people are strong in working on alternative communication issues. In CCDA we have a very active radio station and have launched an observatory. Both are helping to combat discrimination. Peasants and young people are very stigmatised, which is one of the factors for the uprooting of young people.
YOU MENTIONED THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING SUPPORT FROM AND SHARED SPACES WITH SENIORS. REGENERATION OF LEADERSHIP IS A BIG CHALLENGE FOR MANY MEMBERS. HOW CAN WE BUILD INTERGENERATIONAL BRIDGES IN ORDER TO SUSTAIN OUR ORGANIZATIONS? WHAT DO WE NEED FOR THAT?
Neydi: Respect and tolerance for change are fundamental, both on the part of young people and elders. We need to be more flexible in order to leave room for the mistakes of young leaders, so that they are not used to punish or make them invisible. Sometimes we have felt offended by older leaders, when they tell us that we young people only think about partying. Our initiatives are full of energy, of joy... of youth, they are also good proposals. This is a collective construction, it is not just a group of people of a certain age, it belongs to everyone.
YOUTH ARE SPEAKING UP AND BECOMING THE BIGGEST VOICE ON KEY GLOBAL CHALLENGES. ILC YOUTH COULD JOIN THIS TREND AND BE PART OF A GLOBAL VOICE IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LAND RIGHTS. WE HAVE LAUNCHED, FOR EXAMPLE, THE YOUTH FELLOWSHIP SEEKING AT ENABLING SPACES FOR ILC YOUTH TO RAISE THEIR VOICES AND STRENGTHEN THEIR LEADERSHIP CAPACITIES. HOW DO YOU SEE THESE SPACES? HOW CAN ILC BETTER HELP YOUTH TO BECOME A STRONGER VOICE AND EVENTUALLY A MOVEMENT IN LAND RIGHTS?
Neydi: Networks are very important for us young people because they allow us to exchange experiences and move from training processes to action. Getting to know other young people allows us to have more support and protection in our struggles, in defending defenders and in publicly denouncing violence. In addition, an external view allows us to validate our own initiatives. Being part of a larger space with high legitimacy helps us to have more visibility and reduce the stigmatisation of young leaders.
GLF Youth 2022: What youth-related topics would you bring to the table/ discussions?
Neydi: It should be an opportunity to make visible the accompaniment and support for youth initiatives, and to reflect on the importance of including young people in different efforts. Youth is not a separate issue. We need young people's ideas to have the same level of priority and importance, and to turn ILC's training opportunities —which are important for members— into action. The GLF can be a space for this: to integrate young people, open space for their participation and encourage collective action.
On May 4, 2021, three young ILC activists took part in the United Nations Food Systems Summit Global Youth Dialogue - Good Food For All. Winny Chepkemoi (Kenya Land Alliance, Kenya), Melissa Alamo (Pakisama, Philippines) and Neydi Juracan (Comité Campesino del Altiplano - CCDA, Guatemala). The event brought together more than 100 young people from all over the world, who shared their proposals on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are their stories.