The Leadership of Youth against Violence

In a display of consciousness and political action, young students, parents and educators in the United States — and the world- marched last weekend to demand that their voices be heard. Children want to live without fear. They do not want to endure what their peers in Parkland, Newtown, Chicago, St. Louis, Columbine, and every other town in America affected by gun violence have suffered. This is a call for action and reflection that demands urgent change to make the world a better place for future generations. Youth protesting at the March for Our Lives has shown they are not willing to passively wait for change to happen.

After several school shootings in the U.S., many people have shown their grievance and shock, displaying their solidarity and compassion towards the victims and their families. Unfortunately, gun violence in schools has not stopped, and so, we gathered on Saturday to demand urgent change. We marched hand in hand, alongside students, their families and teachers in Washington, D.C., to protest against massive shootings and insist reforms be made on current U.S. gun control.

The March for Our Lives was organized by a group of young survivors of the recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. They do not agree that arming teachers can be a solution. Increasing gun violence cannot be a solution. The concrete action demanded by these determined students is that a bill be brought before Congress to address the gun issues and its consequences. More restrictions and less guns, not more of them in schools.

Students — most of them under the age of twenty-one — addressed the crowd in Washington, D.C. to describe the ways in which gun violence have affected their lives. Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors at the Parkland massacre, silenced the crowd for six minutes and twenty seconds, a time equal to the duration of the shooting. The silence spoke a thousand words; however, it will not last any longer, youth has found its voice.

There are many questions to be addressed in order to build safer schools for our children. The first: is more severe gun control enough to keep our children safe? The answer is, probably not. The second and tougher question is: why is this happening?

A suggested approach was to fortify schools against gun violence through greater security measures. These measures might sound sensible, but they haven’t shown to be an efficient solution. Introducing measures such as lock-down drills, metal detectors, and surveillance cameras might deter the likelihood of violent events (at the cost of making school a scary place for children) but they don’t seem to have prevented further school shootings. Surveillance cameras were not enough to stop gun violence in Columbine, and a school lock-down did not save the children of the events at Sandy Hook.

Schools are conceived as places to nurture dreams and develop multiple talents; they are spaces for children to create life projects. Why should they become places where students are assessed as possible threats?

This issue calls for a multi-disciplinary approach, with education and respect for Human Rights at its core. We need to recover our sense of belonging to humanity, regardless of our nationality, place of origin, or ethnicity. As a society, we need to stop violence, alienation, isolation and the lack of sensitivity towards other people.

Every individual, of all contexts can add to this approach. It is possible to promote dialogue, inclusion and respect in our daily lives, at home and within our communities.

Gun control is critical, but reinforcing our children’s sense of purpose in life and emphasizing their sense of belonging to humanity is also a priority. Youth has taught us an important lesson this weekend: they have a voice, they matter, and they are willing to do what it takes to shape a better future.

Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest

Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.

Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.

Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.

Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.

Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.