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Young Stars webinar highlights need to stand up for girls empowerment through education and training

POSTED February 10, 2023

Young Stars webinar highlights need to stand up for girls empowerment through education and training

Learn how an innovative Children Believe project is creating positive change in Nicaragua and how you can help as Canada marks International Development Week

Brianne Binelli, digital content and services manager, Canada

Girls empowered through education, thanks to Children Believe project

Two young women took centre stage as the shining lights of our Young Stars webinar held Feb.9 with our friends at Generation Unlimited. This comes on Canada’s #InternationalDevelopmentWeek, which is, this year, spotlighting the globally recognized Sustainable Development Goals to make a better world. 

Two of those goals apply here, as Amélie Bordeleau, counsellor (development) and head of office at Embassy of Canada in Nicaragua, noted. They are: Decent Work and Economic Growth and Gender Equality.

Jasleydi Domínguez and Karina Manzanares spoke of their involvement in Empuje (Closing the Gender Gap in Youth Employment in Nicaragua), Children Believe’s five-year youth employability project in Nicaragua, supported by Global Affairs Canada. They said Empuje has given them the skills and connections to thrive and build their own futures through professional and life-skills training.

“This project is supporting youth, especially young women, to access education and training opportunities by creating sustainable gender-sensitive youth employment networks and collaborative mechanisms,” explained Fred Witteveen, CEO of Children Believe. The initiative’s target is to support 12,000 youth, particularity 7,200 young women in nine major areas across Nicaragua.

Why is Empuje so necessary? The girls shared their challenges overcoming discrimination, local stereotypes of gender roles and access to information as key barriers to employability and success.

“I suffered from gender discrimination and also because my body image doesn’t comply with beauty standards. I also suffered class discrimination, because most of my classmates were from more solid economic households,” explained Karina, 26, a trained psychologist and entrepreneur who had support from Empuje to grow her confidence and online business through skills-training.

Jasleydi, 22, came from a conservative family and had to overcome stereotypes. “[I was told] I had to learn homemaking skills, because my future was to get married and be a homemaker and take care of my husband, rather than learn skills for my own survival. I would have to rely on a man,” she said.

But, today, Jasleydi has a bright future. Thanks to training and support through Empuje, she landed a temporary job at a bookstore that helped her cover expenses so she can complete her university scholarship in communications.

The project’s goal is to help more young women access support. Dr. Kevin Frey, CEO of Generation Unlimited, shared that 282-million young people worldwide are not in education, employment or training (NEET), and young women are twice as likely to have NEET status than men.

Youth unemployment is a global problem, due to the changing dynamics of the workforce, but change is possible if we work together.

“With the extraordinary challenges youth are facing — we need to increase the urgency and enhance the speed of reform. And — most importantly — we need to keep young people at the centre of it all!” Kevin said.

Panellists agreed the answer is working together with governments, the private and public sector and, most importantly, youth. It isn’t easy, but progress is underway thanks to projects like Empuje.

“We need to share these examples that we can work together,” began Fred. “If we’ve done it here, where can we do it next? Those conversations are starting.”

And, private-sector organizations like Gildan Activewear are helping spur that change. “We believe as a member of the private sector we have a strong influence on the change we want to see and be part of it,” noted Alis del Carmen Perdomo Salgado, sustainability coordinator at the brand’s social compliance division in Central America.

And, youth themselves are the answers to lasting change. Both of the young stars on the panel are already role models with words of inspiration for their peers.

“My principal message for all women in Nicaragua and around the world is to study, because education is the foundation for progress… It opens your mind. Do your research, get informed. Apply for scholarships. Don’t let fear enclose you…. Be daring,” said Jasleydi.

Karina had advice, too. “The first thing I’d say is we should develop resilience based on self-confidence as women. We should learn to love ourselves as we are, and we should learn to love our differences,” she said, noting why it’s so important to develop skills. “Through financial empowerment we can be free.”

Fred closed by reminding attendees to create motivation so others can take action. “Great things can happen but only if we don’t leave the conversation here. I encourage you all to convert thoughts to action. This is a global issue.”

You can start by reading more about how to speak up for change or by sponsoring a child who you can encourage in their education through letters. Be the change.

Watch the complete webinar now

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.


The $7.3-million Empuje (Youth Employability: Closing the Gender Gap in Youth Employment in Nicaragua) initiative is a five-year project designed to improve the well-being of 12,000 youth (60 percent women) in nine provinces of Nicaragua. Children Believe is leading the project in partnership with local partners and INATEC with funding from Global Affairs Canada. The project aims to increase access to life skills and professional skills-training among youth, so they can identify, gain and retain employment; gain awareness of gender equality in accessing and identifying non-exploitative job opportunities; as well as improve opportunities in engaging youth, especially women, in dialogue and consultations with potential employers and/or employment services.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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