Youth ACT Argentina Group
YOUTH ACT ARGENTINA
The members of the group are residents of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We are located in the municipalities of Vicente López and Moreno .We started the Youth-Act program in November 2019 as a group of young women attracted by the Non-Formal Education proposal under the title of Youth for Participation and Democratic Values. In February, those of us who coordinate the group participated in the Seminar in Madrid, a rich experience of meeting and training with young people from different countries who share experiences and concerns. Before going to Madrid, with a couple of meetings, we organized a campaign to collect milk to donate to a picnic area in the province
A month after returning from the seminar, Argentina entered into a social, preventive and mandatory isolation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This isolation lasted until November 2020. This situation forced us to meet virtually as a group to share what some of us learned and experienced in the face-to-face seminar. in Madrid.
The virtual meetings have allowed us to go through the training process proposed by Y.A. orienting our group meetings to research and to give importance to critical analysis of information in context and, at the same time to strengthen ourselves as a team. We highlighted some fundamental aspects, such as democratic leadership, prioritizing the active participation of the entire group, promoting dialogue between all people, taking into account different opinions. All members of the group are committed to contribute actively. Each participant feels part of and assumes responsibility for the elaboration of a joint project and in developing attitudes that we find valuable in and for society. Equality and respect in dialogue are other pillars we valued, where every word put in common has the same value, thus achieving a cooperative, group-oriented, responsible, sustained and committed work.
Within this process we had two instances of specific training with women that we admire and recognize as examples and guides in our journey in Youth-Act. We had a virtual meeting with Belén, who guided and encouraged us in the steps for the social project we wanted and to put us in and contact with other realities. She was inspiring by her testimony as a volunteer in India and Argentina, She is dedicated to communication and corroborated our desire and path of giving a voice to people in situations rarely heard and in the task of providing information to those who do not have access to it..We also met with Carla to begin defining and putting our project in writing. Carla is coordinator of projects in vulnerable contexts at the University of Lanús. We recovered what we saw at the seminar and shared a training space open to questions. Prior to meeting Carla, we investigated public policies, institutions and research on the subject we chose, and with the new guidelines we continued in the development of the project, specifically the drafting of the objectives.
As part of the journey, we were able to accompany particular situations in vulnerable contexts: a community dining room run by a group of women in an urban-marginal neighbourhood, always being available and attentive to respond with food campaigns and campaigns to disseminate the problem. Moreover, we also understand that in our usual tasks, mainly in the areas where each one works, studies, volunteers, as in parishes, etc., we apply what we have worked on and learned as a group, promoting youth participation, respect in dialogue and plurality of voices. The problems that interest us are related to women in a situation of socioeconomic vulnerability.
however, in the training process we had to rethink the mode due to the present reality. We define three categories of objectives, firstly the personal objectives of the members of the group, oriented towards training, sharing from experience and towards learning from a deepening view of social problems. Second, the group’s internal objective is to go through the two-year process as group training that develops skills for a participatory citizenship committed to democratic values. An third, to earn to work as a team and to build with others with values that promote cooperation, equality and other democratic values.
We set for ourselves the objective of community insertion, reflecting on the incidence in society on how we promote participation and democratic values with other young people in today’s socio-historical moment, favouring a culture of commitment to the most vulnerable.
Launch of the programme: coordinators’meeting
In Buenos Aires, from 15 to 17 November 2019, the launch meeting of the project Youth for Participation and Democratic Values (Youth Act), coordinated by EDIW (Education for an Interdependent World) and co- financed by the European Union, was held.
The coordinators of the EU partner organizations for the Youth Act programme in the Americas met with the enthusiasm of generating training instances for young people on significant issues such as citizen participation and democratic values. The participating countries represented were: Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, United States, Peru, Santo Domingo, Argentina and Belgium.
The previous week the European coordinating group met in Brussels with representation from Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and France. The design was such that as much as possible of the funding would be used in the mobility of the young people involved. After the introductions of partners through representatives of the organizations, Dr. Julia María González Ferreras, president of EDIW and coordinator of the project Youth Act, presented its context and objectives, which gave rise to a round of questions and a dialogue.
Then, the development of the programme to be carried out in four semesters was presented as well as its development by young people from the different participating countries on instances meetings, modalities, seminars, etc. Another important item discussed was the availability of budget and everything
related to the administrative and financial aspects of the programme. This project, designed for two years of non-formal education, brought together young people from two continents, proposing an itinerary of experiences and knowledge in two instances of participation: local groups and an international platform, understanding participation as a fundamental right of people, especially young people. In democratic systems, the programme sought to provide tools to encourage responsibility in their growth as citizens. Young people should be key actors in social change, bringing into play a creative, open and
daring collective intelligence, capable of seeking alternatives that lead to change, capable of innovating, reinventing and discovering meaningful horizons … Young people committed to justice, education for peace, solidarity and human rights, open to diversity and with an inclusive attitude. Once the programme and its development were presented, work continued with different modalities of exchange between the country coordinators and the programme coordinator to start planning the different stages with the local groups. Finally, an open call for participation was made to present the Youth Act to young people interested in the proposal, among youth who would later become part of the local group in Argentina.
The formation of local groups
The invitation was addressed to young people who, motivated by the theme, may want to join and be part of the call for training within the framework of the EDIW proposal. We agreed on the way in which the group would develop its function. Each country decided on its own modality. Due to the diversity that characterised the group, we considered the construction of a space for exchange of horizontal modality defined by the contributions of the different disciplines and tasks among the members of Youth Act Argentina. The first meeting was one of “brainstorming” with the aim of rethinking the concepts of “participation” and “democratic values”, as well as looking online for information about them. Although we left the conceptualisation open to further development throughout the programme, we were able to define the following: “participation” and “democratic values”.
– Participation: Meeting of people committed to a common goal that involves subjective construction and group contribution thus , the formation of inter-subjective links where communication and reflection are required in a collective involvement of approaching an objective reality.
– Democratic values: Social contract resulting from participation and free choice that allows the construction of a democratic identity. In a democratic system, it establishes the value and importance of democracy itself in any relationship linked to processes of exercising rights such as justice, equality,
freedom and, therefore, respect in terms of gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc. Once we had completed the first stage, the following question arose: How to create spaces for participation, and the search for a project that we considered to be of interest to us and related to what we had previously discussed. We then approached the concepts of “women” and “vulnerability”, first as isolated ideas, and then in relation to the different spaces of social coexistence where each of us could make our contribution from our knowledge and experience.
We began with the question: What is it to be a woman? From this we were able to conclude that the concept itself has to do with self-perception within socialization in its context as well as a legal framework that accompanies this definition. As a result, women are silenced and marginalized in areas such as politics, the workplace, etc.
We also debated the fact of being a woman as a condition, constructed as limiting in the sense of the attributing toa woman a social role that considers, from her identity, as the one responsible for certain spaces of social life such as the family. In developing the second concept, “vulnerability”, we explained the importance of projecting ourselves in specific geographical contexts from a class perspective, and that this allows for the future construction of an inclusive project that prioritizes and reflects a situation of objective oppression of Latin American women.
In this way, the formation of the local group in Buenos Aires, Argentina began with the consolidation of a group of people, various agreements for collective work, the presentation of ideas and the search for new knowledge and meeting spaces for training in critical thinking, reflection and respect for other people. As ways of building citizenship and participation in democratic values, we agreed to work collaboratively, we highlighted certain attitudes, we defined our priorities and responsibilities, we visualised the implementation, and transversally, we assumed the individual and group commitment for society, with people and from the community.