The many obstacles facing Honduran youth

Two Honduran youth who participated in the second annual “Breaking Barriers” marathon, an attempt to reclaim public space for youth.

An estimated 65 percent of the Honduran population is under the age of 29. I’d heard this statistic before I went to Honduras, but didn’t understand what it fully meant until I started reporting there.

We spent most of our reporting trip speaking to Honduran youth about what it’s like to be young in the country. Many can’t find work because of discrimination because of where they live. Just seeing the address of a neighborhood in a gang-controlled area often means that employers shut the doors in their face. Young women are asked in interviews if they have kids or plan to have kids soon. Employers don’t want to hire them for fear that they will quit once they have kids. So job searches drag on and on for many Honduran youth.

Their movement is also incredibly restricted. Some youth rarely left their homes, fearing what would happen if they crossed an imaginary line between gang territories. One young mother hadn’t seen her 3-year-old daughter in more than a year. Her aunt and uncle were raising her, but they lived in opposite gang territory, so she couldn’t go to visit. Many youth say that the police – the people who are tasked with protecting them – are in fact the ones who are hurting them, beating them whenever they get the chance. Local programs are trying to recover public space and help Honduran youth in the face of these struggles, but change is slow.

With this reality, what choices do Honduran youth really have? Many are thinking of migrating, but it’s not an easy decision to leave their country behind. This is often an overlooked part of the narrative surrounding migration, and I hope we can bring this part of the story to a larger audience. 

Anna-Catherine Brigida, 2019 Honduras Adelante Fellow