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At a glance: Mexico

Indigenous adolescents push for recognition and equity in Mexico

© UNICEF Mexico/2011
Adolescents from Oaxaca play music they composed for their project.

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, 14 December 2011 – An interactive presentation offers first-hand accounts of the daily challenges facing many of Mexico’s indigenous adolescents.

There are more than 10 million indigenous people in Mexico, 9.8 per cent  of the overall population. Yet this group, especially its children and adolescents, face the country’s great development shortfalls. Their marginalization is apparent in lower incomes, inferior educational levels and limited access to public services.

On 17 August 2011, with partner Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS), UNICEF Mexico launched ‘Voices of Indigenous Youth: Adolescence, Ethnicities and Communities in México’, a multimedia presentation aimed at raising awareness of the hardships facing indigenous youth and increasing opportunities for their participation in society.

Voices from all over Mexico

Over 200 Mexican adolescents took part in ‘Voices of Indigenous Youth’. They came from all over Mexico, including Chiapas, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Jalisco, Morelos, Oaxaca, Sinaloa and Veracruz, as well as Mexico City. One group even hailed from a Mexican community in the United States.

© UNICEF Mexico/2011
Young people dance to a musical performance.

A variety of indigenous ethnicities was represented, including Choles, Huicholes, Mixes, Mixtecos, Nahuas, Rarámuris, Tlapanecos, Tzeltales, Wixáritari, Zapotecos and Zoques. 

Through text, photography, video, art and music, the adolescents conveyed their need to be heard and their desire for their opinions to count. They eloquently and persuasively argued for better recognition of their right to social participation, and expressed a desire to play leadership roles in improving conditions in their communities.

Promoting awareness and participation

The project makes clear that the desires of Mexico’s indigenous youth are concrete and modern. They want equal access to the latest educational, economic and scientific developments the country has to offer. With this in mind, ‘Voices of Indigenous Youth’ emphasizes adolescents’ right to community participation, not only as members of indigenous groups but also as members of Mexico’s diverse population.

The presentation targets both policymakers and the general public, part of a continuing effort by UNICEF to promote policies on behalf of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. UNICEF’s implementing partners and the adolescents who contributed to the project will use it to increase awareness and understanding of the rights and needs of indigenous adolescents among authorities and civil society.



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