“We are not the movement of tomorrow. We are the movement of today.”
13-year-old Jimena, 2015
There is increasingly more global momentum around the idea of young women leading transformational change. Every day, another voice joins a chorus of diverse thought-leaders to corroborate what hard data also shows—that empowering and educating young women is arguably the wisest investment you can make to create a better world for all.
Yet there is often painful irony to this momentum. Too often, the world is talking about the “empowerment” of young women, but are they sharing in the dialogue? Are they aware of the global movement occurring in their name?
Seventy percent of Guatemala’s population is comprised of youth; however, challenging geography, history, and highly fragmented society produces silos. Young women igniting change too often have no opportunity to connect with other female leaders beyond their community. As a result, they are disconnected from the greater national and global movement around achieving their full participation in society.
HOW IT WORKS
CAN is designed to create a community of transformational young female leaders throughout Guatemala. In partnership with many of Guatemala’s leading schools and organizations, the network brings together the most amazing young women in the country who exhibit a proven chispa (“spark”).
The Event: Chispas del Hoy Summit (Sparks of Today)
Each year, the three-day summit convenes 100 female leaders from leading organizations and schools representing a true demographic cross-section of the country. Partner organizations carefully choose delegates based on demonstrated leadership skills and drive. For three powerful days, 100 young women–representing Guatemala’s full-spectrum of socioeconomic and ethnic diversity–create an intentional community focused on synergy and increased social capital.
Through very purposeful design, each delegate leaves the summit fully aware of the international movement around girls’ education and empowerment. More important, she is aware of her unique role in bringing it to her community to ignite change. Each year, delegates determine a theme that will drive their action-plans for the next 12 months as they catalyze change in their communities.
The Chispacio (“Spark Space”) Chapters
After the event, delegates return to their communities to create Chispacio action chapters to promote positive change in their communities (partner organizations provide meeting space and logistical support). These gatherings are inclusive spaces (men are welcome) that serve to propel local action on annual themes. Actions are focused and measured in the following areas:
· Community engagement
Chispacio chapters are autonomous, but CAN facilitates optional meeting topics and supports cross-chapter communication and exchanges. CAN also provides limited matching funding to support chapter-led community-based initiatives. The annual Chispas del Hoy Summit gathers leaders from the Chispacio chapters together each year to celebrate achievements, further deepen social capital, and widen the circle to include a growing number of chispas (sparks) to effect change.
CAN is powered by Starfish, a dynamic girl-focused organization achieving unprecedented results among rural, indigenous adolescent girls in Guatemala. Since 2008, Starfish has been working to unlock the potential of first-gen “everythings.” CAN reflects Starfish’s commitment to organizational collaboration and abundance mindset and evidences a key attribute of Starfish’s ethos: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.