On July 12, 2006 was held the United Nations Informal Interactive Hearings with NGOs, Civil Society and the Private Sector on International Migration and Development. Marioliva Gonzalez was the only youth speaker and the sole NGO representative who received a direct positive reaction to her speech from a member state delegate. Read on to learn about Marioliva’s findings and ideas on the subject of young people, migration and development. You can view the webcast of her statement in English or in Spanish.
Mariya Petrova (MP): How and why did you get involved with the Global Youth Action Network?
Marioliva Gonzales (MG): Since I was 16 years old, I worked on literacy campaigns and helped indigenous communities and needed to find something like GYAN, which I did thanks to Carlos García-Robles. He invited me to work with GYAN and I accepted the challenge. Because of GYAN and its concept, its philosophy and all the magic it entails, I am sure I’ve found exactly how and where I want to work.
MP: How have the young people in Mexico responded to the work of your organization?
MG: Even though youth participation is very low in Mexico, GYAN has grown favorably in these past few years and has participated in and organized big events. Other youth organizations and the Mexican Institute for Youth are familiar with our work and our way of spreading information.
MP: What are young people in your country doing on the problem of migration?
MG: Migration between Mexico and the United States has always existed and there are communities with very strong ties to Mexico. We don’t see migration as a problem, rather as a necessity due to the economic, social and political situation in Mexico as well as a cultural issue. Half of the Mexican population has family that resides in the United States. The youths wish they had a different way of life than the one they have here. The problem is that as they migrate because of their condition, they receive the lowest salaries (between 15% and 35% lower than those of adults between the ages of 33 and 44) and have trouble finding jobs. Seventy percent of youths are unemployed or have trouble finding a job.
The problem of migration is not only limited to countries abroad and is also present in urban centers that are losing part of their cultural heritage. According to UNESCO in 1992, internal migration is a development factor that countries should take into account. Life in the country often lacks the dignified conditions needed for development. Youths with meager salaries opt to migrate because they don’t have opportunities to develop.
MP: Do you attempt to further engage in a dialogue with your government on the issues of youth migration?
MG: Yes, my government is interested, as it showed with the Interactive Dialogue. This is a big step regarding youths since Mexico has the migration issue as one of its main issues of its foreign policy. Even though not much has been accomplished yet, taking youths into consideration is a very positive step.
MP: In what specific ways or programs can the youth be involved with in helping to establish clear emigrational policies?
MG: In order to establish clear policies on migration in Mexico, there need to be flexible programs regarding national, local and binational employment that have dignified conditions for young people. Youths can be involved in these types of programs so that they become more used to the young conditions and proposals that they themselves need.
We also need development programs that promote local development so that youths from those communities are not forced to migrate under irregular conditions that endanger their lives.
MP: How can other youth groups from different parts of the world help in the matter of migration?
MG: The first thing we need to do is develop impact indicators because they currently don’t exist at the international level. Then we need to change the negative views that most governments have about young people. We young people are agents of change and it is necessary that youth are aware of this. Youth empowerment is needed to change public policies. To help the issue of migration, those impact indicators are necessary to show the importance of juvenile migration and its consequences, both positive and negative. Local development projects are important for sustainable development and culture.
MP: Do you think that the Informal Interactive Hearings with NGOs, Civil Society, and the Private Sector on International Migration and Development held on July 12, 2006 were effective in establishing an active conversation between all parties?
MG: I think that a lot more could have been accomplished, but improvements are possible. The youth group was a very articulate group. The important thing is to create networks.
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