Back to school: youth participation builds inclusive citizenship

© SOL QUIÑONEZ ©foto

«Big movements start with small things».
girl student of the IES Agar Do Orzán, in Coruña, Galicia.

«Hope, enthusiasm and a long road on which we have to walk together».
boy student of Col-legi Kostka – Jesuïtes Gràcia, in Barcelona, Catalonia.

We went back to school in 2021 with a lot of hope and enthusiasm to act from the local to the global, and especially to meet again. Amidst new measures, precautions and uncertainties, thousands of socio-educational centers in Spain and around the world restarted their work in September with the promotion of inclusive education for peaceful coexistence and gender equality, as an urgent response to the persistent pandemic, international conflicts and climate crisis.

The beginning of the school year for the project «Integral and inclusive education in contexts of social vulnerability», led by Entreculturas in Spain with the support of Inditex, also involved a myriad of unexpected challenges, but one thing was clear: in the face of these interconnected crises, and to respond to the growing socioeconomic inequality, educational gaps and mental health problems that are especially affecting young people in Spain, we needed a coordinated response from various territories and socio-educational center.

From the Autonomous Communities of Galicia, Asturias, Castilla y León, and with the new incorporation of Extremadura and Catalonia, we started the new course with the motivation to leave no one behind and multiply the opportunities for youth participation, for their resilience, psychosocial well-being, and social and educational inclusion, with a special focus on women, migrant groups and/or in contexts of greater vulnerability.

Inditex Entreculturas

Thousands of socio-educational centers in Spain and around the world restarted their work in September with the promotion of inclusive education for peaceful coexistence and gender equality.

Inditex Entreculturas

First of all, the long-awaited interregional youth assemblies were held in the five territories, this time in face-to-face mode, with the meeting of groups of young people, educators from different educational centers and social entities participating in the project. This was one of the most exciting moments of the year. This year’s message was clear: It’s time to come back! The global crisis has united us more than ever, and it has become more than evident how young people are building integrally inclusive societies, advancing equality and peaceful coexistence. More than 122 young people and 20 educators from different rural and urban areas of the Autonomous Communities participated in the Assemblies, being trained in gender equality, peaceful and intercultural coexistence, and social inclusion, and designing awareness-raising, mobilization and advocacy actions for the 2021/2022 academic year in their environments.

Inditex Entreculturas
Inditex Entreculturas

In addition to the exciting Assemblies of young people and educators, in the second year of the project it has been possible to increase attendance by 25%. Particularly noteworthy are the multiple actions promoted by the young people of the Violet Networks: youth participation networks that work for gender equality in their environments and in the world. In Castilla y León, for example, several street actions were carried out to raise awareness, mobilize and influence citizens to build environments that prevent violence and inequalities affecting girls and women. Among them, an action of Violet Ribbons with messages to build equal societies in different educational centers, and a demonstration of social theater led by 15 students to make visible especially the realities and voices of migrant women in the world. Both were promoted in several locations in Burgos during 2021. In addition, through these actions, public entities were appealed to remember the commitments of the 2030 Agenda (especially the Sustainable Development Goals for gender equality, the reduction of inequalities and the right to education).

Particularly noteworthy are the action of Violet Ribbons with messages to build equal societies in different educational centers.

Inditex Entreculturas
Inditex Entreculturas

On a more continuous basis, socio-educational accompaniment activities were reinforced with young people from 3 educational/social centers, with special attention to those contexts that presented greater challenges, exclusion and inequality, exacerbated by the crisis. In Galicia, Castile and Leon and Catalonia, groups of young people in contexts of greater vulnerability were accompanied and trained in gender equality, peaceful coexistence and interculturality, exercising their right to participate as global citizens.

In Galicia, Castile and Leon and Catalonia, groups of young people in contexts of greater vulnerability.

Along with this accompaniment, 3 socio-educational centers have also been accompanied in working with management and/or educational teams, leading continuous training to integrate the gender approach, and generating plans for peaceful coexistence, to address the social and educational challenges deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 97 educators have actively participated in these spaces and training itineraries, showing an exemplary commitment to improving the tools and pedagogies for accompanying youth, with a special focus on coeducation and social inclusion.

Despite the great limitations and uncertainties, the second year of the «Comprehensive and inclusive education in contexts of social vulnerability» project has once again demonstrated its capacity to guarantee the right to full participation as a fundamental pillar for the inclusion of young people, especially in contexts of greater diversity and/or vulnerability. Indeed, it is for them a driver of change while activating their capacity of agency for the transformation of their environments and the world. In addition, more than 740 people have actively participated in initiatives for gender equality, social inclusion and a culture of peace, exceeding the numbers expected at the beginning of the project. The participation and leadership of young people, with a special contribution of girls and women, continues to prove to be the way to rebuild our societies in a resilient, peaceful, inclusive, intercultural way and in the defense of gender equality in Spain and the world, an agenda that we need more than ever to address the multiple social and environmental crises that continue to affect the rights and welfare of young people to a greater extent.

In addition, more than 740 people have actively participated in initiatives for gender equality, social inclusion and a culture of peace.