On January 17th, 2019, Girl Up Monterrey organized the first Parlamento Rosa (Pink Parliament), which took place in the Congress of Nuevo León. There were around 40 attendees, people from different backgrounds, different schools and different perspectives, but all shared one thing in common: they were all at the right place in the right time.
To start the day, we heard inspiring speeches from Congressmen Luis Susarrey, Congresswomen Marlene Benvenutti, and our Club President, Valeria Colunga. We were all so moved and touched that everyone wanted to get to work right away. But before that, attendees learned how the legislative system works in Mexico; how the bills and laws are proposed, voted, and passed; who gets to decide the final verdict; as well as many other details some of us hadn’t even considered. One of the things that surprised most of us was the fact that any citizen can propose a bill in the Congress of Nuevo Leon.
If a person is still not of legal age, a legal guardian has to come with them. However, people who are 18 years old or older can show up with only their credential in hand, and their bill will be taken in consideration. It’s that simple. We were really surprised that this piece of information was not well-known among us. We spent so much time debating about global issues in activities like Model UN, but we rarely took action in our own state to propose something that could impact the lives of the people in our community.
The 40 participants were then divided into 4 different commissions that specialized in different aspects of gender equality: Commission of Youth, Commission of Health and Attention to Vulnerable Groups, Commission of Social Development and Commission of Equality.
For about four straight hours, these issues were discussed, and bills were written with the guidance of professionals who were present to assist. Afterwards, everyone headed back to a plenary session to listen and vote on the new initiatives, which, after a debate among all committees, all bills were voted in favor. The most interesting thing that happened took place after the bills were voted; at the end of Parlamento Rosa, a space was opened for the participants to share their opinions on a topic that they were concerned about. Issues like migration, air pollution, abortion, among others, were debated.
The audience of the plenary session could physically see how the young participants seemed to let go of a weight on their shoulders, as if they had been keeping it inside them for a long time. We were all witnesses of great, young minds discovering what really moved them.
Here are some of the assistants’ opinions:
It’s incredible how girls bloom when they’re given the opportunity to speak up. I was impressed with the hard work that the participants put into their resolutions. I saw firsthand the potential that lies within the girls in my community and I couldn’t be more convinced that the futures of millions of girls are safe with them paving the way for better education, gender-focused inclusion policies and advocacy for the rights of migrants. The Mexican Congress is already occupied by 50% of women, but there’s still a lot of work to be done so that this statistic isn’t just out into place by pure obligation, but rather by an actual reflection of having half of the population represented. Mexican politics are known for being good in theory but bad in practice, so it’s up to us to make sure that the law is enforced.
I was really surprised that I had never heard of all this information before. I honestly believe that people should be aware of these types of rights. Of course, not everyone will do something about it, but this decision should be theirs to make. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this was an enriching experience in every way. We all came out of our comfort zone, did something that we never would’ve imagined doing and learned really helpful information that in the near future we will actually put to use.
Our visit to Congress through Parlamento Rosa really puts into perspective for me how little the Mexican youth gets involved in politics and how much broader the possibilities for citizen participation in congress really are. The first time we went to congress, my friends were impressed. They couldn’t believe we had gone to the “real Congress”, but little did they know that they too could participate in policymaking. I realized that, often times, we ourselves are who put up the barriers between the government and citizens. We see the Congress as a building far away, that only a privileged few can enter. But it is up to us, the young citizens, to rise up, knock on the door, and ask. And if there is no answer, keep trying.
We are always stuck with the idea: when I’m older I’ll do something to change this or do that etc. But, who knew it is actually pretty much an easy process, where you can do something for your community? It is an idea that slowly becomes a mental obstacle for young girls to advocate in their community for a change.
I was lucky enough to see with my own eyes how, slowly, girls started to evolve when they were empowered and given a space to speak up for problems that affected us all and, at the same time, propose solutions, covering from domestic violence to lack of inclusive infrastructure. I watched proudly as my younger sister, who wasn’t that eager to attend the event, grow in such an environment. She went up to the podium and started advocating for young girls who may suffer a mental disease by proposing a reform for restructuring the methods of attention towards patients. I mean, she is just 3 years younger than me, and yet I saw her as the epitome of what we in Girl Up can do for any girl who has a voice that wants to be heard. Just wait for it, maybe this was just a simulation of the “real Congress”, but don’t be too surprised if in a few years we see some of the girls who attended actually having their own assigned seat.
There has always been a saying that goes something along the lines of “two minds think better than one.” In this case, we have proven that when adults, teenagers, and young adults come together to work towards the same goal, incredible things can happen. I was truly surprised by how big of a success this event was. I think that everybody who was present in the event went home with new knowledge, and a fresh batch of inspiration to continue fighting towards solving social issues. No matter if you were one of the attendees or part of the organizers, we all realized just how powerful the youth can be when you give them a space to stand up and use their voice. I am looking forward to our next collaboration with our State’s Congress as they seemed to willingly support us in future projects and campaigns. And, as I previously stated, when you have different minds (younger and older) you get results that you would never get if we all worked separately. At last, remember that we all have to demand those who are making decisions for us to do their best of their ability, but we also have the obligation to be proactive.