IFWEA Essay Competition “Worker education for building democratic participation” 2018 by Varinia Rendón Martínez - Winner YGAP 2018 Scholarship

“How our Education Project helped to build a democratic participation”
By Varinia Rendón Martínez representing CENAC Bolivia

“The participants of the workshop included ten people. Both female and male were between 20
and 30 years old. The selection criteria of the participants were the following: the most important
criteria was the interest that the target participants showed in taking this workshop. It was also
important that those participants showed skills to be new leadership even if they didn’t have
much experience in political science or a great academic formation. They showed interest in
contributing to the improvement of the situation of their sector and community through their
union.

There has been equitable gender approach. That means that maybe because of the
characteristics of the group or the idiosyncrasy of the people, women didn’t show the same level
of interest as men, in quantitative terms. It’s been decided that 50% of the participants should
be women and the other 50% should be men. All the participants belong to different unions.

The participation of women in decision-making spaces is very important because gender
equality is an essential element of democracy; furthermore, their participation enriches the
communication and gives us a wider conception of the group, its characteristics and its needs.
The selection of the participants has also been orientated to younger people, because in most
cases older people are the ones that make the most important decisions and younger people
are not, even if they might have more interesting and innovating ideas.

Sadly, in Bolivia, there is very little participation from youth in unions and other similar organizations such as
neighborhood organizations. That’s why the project aimed to increase both the participation of
youth and women in the unions.

It is important to listen to the experiences they have, to learn while teaching. The feedback is
very important in every democratic space. Everybody has something to teach and something to
learn.

An opportunity has been given to each one of the participants to express their ideas and all of
them have been considered with the same importance. All the participants have something to
say, something to share and no one is more important than the rest.

The participants have learned that each and every one of their contributions are valid and that
everyone has the right to express their opinion. They also found out the importance of their own
participation inside the group, and also the importance of the rest of the people’s opinions.

To incentive the rest of the group to give their opinion about each other’s intervention was
important for the ideas exchange, also to promote solidarity inside the group.”