In Mejicanos, El Salvador, youth organizers received a commitment from the city's mayor-elect, Simón Paz, to work with them in efforts to resolve urgent problems. That commitment came during a recent candidates' forum organized by Colectivo Sol Mayor, a local peace network of young people supported by AFSC.
In December, Colectivo Sol Mayor hosted a public forum so young people could ask mayoral candidates how they would address some of their biggest concerns, including garbage collection, public safety, and youth participation in civic affairs.
Colectivo Sol Mayor and AFSC's partner organization, ANADES, presented candidates with a statement that outlined their shared concerns. It called for the next mayor to include young people in efforts to address these issues. Every candidate present signed the commitment letter.
“Among the promises the mayor-elect made at the forum were to create open spaces for children and teenagers to participate in civil society, and to promote the rights and responsibilities of youth,” says AFSC staff member José Miguel Martinez. “Since then, Paz has initiated conversations with youth groups so they can participate in a new Committee for Citizen Coexistence in addition to other existing bodies, such as the Youth Council.”
Local peace networks like Colectivo Sol Mayor bring together diverse groups and individuals in many communities where AFSC has programs. Participants think about their community as a whole, reflect on conflicts and their causes, and collaborate on activities that promote nonviolence.
The mayoral forum in Mejicanos was one example of this work. The event provided a space for community members to share their views on a wide-range of issues. The youth also invited the participation of civil society organizations that work in the municipality, such as Passionist Social Services, the Red Cross, and the police department's National Prevention Unit.
The young people active with Colectivo Sol Mayor look forward to building on the collaborative efforts discussed at the forum so they can help ensure that young people have their say in the future of Mejicanos.