This success story written by Anauim Valerín Pérez, a young journalist and environmental activist, is part of the "Young women and Youth's Gender Perspectives in Agricultural Development" series that spotlight young professionals' experiences for women's empowerment in agricultural development. From research to private sector, mass media to civil society work, YPARD 2015 Gender series features, every month, young "gender champions" from different regions of the world. This series is part of YPARD work as special youth catalyst in the GAP : Gender in Agriculture Partnership.
I finished high school when I was 18. It was my first important title, so I felt very proud of myself for having finished a more academic stage at an excellent bilingual school in my hometown.
I started my university studies when I was 19, in 2013. I knew my academic future would be journalism. Showing through various communication platforms the situation in my country, people’s situation, achieving change through the power of "word", all linked to the research journalism involves makes me who I am.
Living in a rural area, where educational opportunities are few, led me to travel for a year and a half from my house to the capital, San José, to go to college. After that period, I decided to finally move to the big city to work and study.
In San Jose I had the opportunity to work for Channel 13, where I got to know great stories of young people struggling in Costa Rica to cope with their passion. In many cases, the Government does not support the athletes to outstand across disciplines, therefore, they must combine study with work and sport.
I was also participated as a journalist and member of logistics in the World Women's Under-17 in Costa Rica. 90% of the workers during the event were young people.
In addition to my studies in journalism, I took part in a group of young environmentalists called "Youth Ecollective". It was in 2012 when representatives from around the country met for the first time. First, we evaluated the 20 years after the UN Summit Rio 92 in Costa Rica. In this activity we had the opportunity to analyze, in a regional and social context, environmental issues and their possible causes.
We ended up discussing about what our contribution should be as youth to this problem. So we made the Forum "Youth for Rio + 20" and invited the Minister of Environment of that time to share our concerns. Certainly, the young voice managed to be heard on issues where power and adult-centrism prevails in my country.
Youth Ecollective is a group fully focused on agri-environmental matters, in order to make processes of popular education and discussion about a sector that is affected by the adult-centeredness. As environmentalists, we believe in the access to alternative, critical and independent information. Hence we work to raise awareness and educate the public about socio-environmental conflicts and the struggle for gender equality.
As a group made up of young people across the country, we are solidly connected with environmental causes, politicians from different sectors and social movements. We fully support indigenous groups and we work especially to defend human rights.
On several occasions we have gone to meetings where we discussed the problem of adult-centrism and various ways to bring down this issue. It becomes interesting when the youth represses his feelings because of adult power. Against this background, as a young woman I feel a committed to contribute to bring real change so that young people are seen as the present and not only as the future.
As a consequence of these meetings Boreal Collective was born. Through art we raise awareness in protecting the culture and the environment. Besides, we support seed exchange, farmers and artisans as for the day of the activity they can sell and exchange their products.
These are the kind of opportunities that change a community, a small group of people, and young denoting the effort and performance of real tasks that were previously seen only in adults. However, both groups have stopped working at the moment due to the lack of support from the State to these initiatives, what is preventing us from continuing with our ideas for the daily struggle.
Let's talk about marginalized groups: women, youth and farmers
Women suffocated by sickening sexism, invisible young people covered by the adult-centrism and farmers struggling for the imposition of new mechanisms of production.
The Government of Costa Rica has high limits on these issues. Likewise, establishing development policies towards this population has not been among its priorities. In 2015 it plans to use part of the national budget to protect the producers, empower security and food sovereignty, protect the environment and promote the culture and sport.
However, my country is currently facing a big problem, which is the scarce capital invested in the development of agriculture and environment, forgetting about women and young people especially.
Costa Rica needs to make agriculture one of its main priorities for the country to stay afloat. Thanks to this sector before 1990, the country stood out internationally for the production of coffee, bananas and others.
A great commitment to change
To know the gaps the country passes through, you need to go to the field and learn from those who live from agriculture. My last experience in the journalistic sector consisted of generating a magazine that showed the importance of family farming. This is how I got to learn more about the life story of a great man who survived cancer after culturing with agrochemicals.
In the absence of a cure for cancer in 1986, when he was just 36, this man was forced to change his lifestyle. Today he only works in growing organically and has become the main promoter in Costa Rica of this type of agriculture.
He is also dedicated to family farming with the help of her daughter. Due to the difficult market situation and development in Costa Rica, by the lack of government and local support his crops are for his own consumption. Unfortunately, this is the reality faced by many producers in Costa Rica nowadays.
With the publication of a magazine that I've just finished editing ("Family Farming: Production towards Food Security") I want to show the challenges and life stories faced by farmers in my country. That's the beautiful journalistic work I intend to carry out: meeting people and raising awareness around marginalized groups.
My magazine will be published on the website of the World Rural Forum, which fills me with enthusiasm to move forward with projects in cooperation with people from the journalistic field and my personal commitment. My idea is to keep writing and acting to achieve real changes in agriculture, empowerment of women and youth.
I am a woman and young voice. This is my life story, framed by a national picture rife with challenges for youth, women and farmers. You can’t see the world through rose-colored glasses. Little by little, the struggle to change the country helping these small groups to develop in areas of interest continues. Also, with slow but firm steps, this will be my work for the rest of life.
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- Agriculture has managed to change my career, by Wouedjie Alice-Norra, a lawyer who works at the Cameroon youth Initiative for Rural Development, CAMYIRD;
- AltroPaesaggio - Empowering Gypsy Women through Urban Agriculture, by Luisa Cartesio, coordinator of the project "Orticulturom" within the association AltroPaesaggio,
- Supporting Sinai Bedouin Women through Agriculture and Handicrafts, by Yasmeen Atta, founder of the Youth Sinai Foundation for Development and Human Rights and the Youth Sinai Development Company.