I’ve learned how to always keep moving forward even when there are obstacles in my way. I’ve learned to never give up what you are trying to achieve…The other girls in the organization are great leaders.
Each one has a leader inside of her. We girls are always the most active. We are more interested in politics and are always at the head of the organization."
This statement is from Ana Guadalupe Perez Rosas. She is a 16 year old domestic worker from Bolivia. More importantly, Ana is President of the La Paz chapter of the national child worker union, UNATSBO.
Noemi Guiterrez is the coordinator for CONNATSOP, the Potosi Council of Organized Child Workers also in Bolivia. Having started her working life at 12, and now 17, she is clear about the path the Bolivian government should take to eradicate child labour.
"Everyone says that kids shouldn’t work, but they are not taking into account the economic reality in this country," Noemi said. "Sure, if we were all well off, none of us would have to work. But rather than thinking rationally, the government only says we need to eradicate child labor. I say, they ought to eradicate poverty first."
I have taken these two examples from a lengthier story on the WBEZ web-site: http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/%E2%80%98ground-shifters%E2%80%99-%E2%80%98girls-gauntlets%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-children-unionizing-bolivia-92051
The storty brings together an impressive array of voices of girls and young women who have either collectivised their interests independently or worked with established labour movement organisations.
What is happening across Bolivia, and other parts of Latin America, is phenomenal and one of the reasons why there is much to be optimistic about the growth in labour movements globally. Additionally, what the Bolivian experience is telling us is that self-organisation amongst young workers can and does happen.
Please take the time to read the full piece which is part of larger initiative around gender, leadership, human rights and the media.