By Red Encuentro de Entidades No Gubernamentales para el Desarrollo (EENGD), member of Forus in Argentina.

One of the most common challenges for CSOs with a certain track record is to sustain a generational renewal in their structures. We share the experience of the Red Encuentro de Entidades No Gubernamentales para el Desarrollo (EENGD), which during the months of October and November 2020 developed a virtual workshop with young people from all over the region with the aim of encouraging their participation.

Youth participation in CSOs not only contributes to sustaining their structures, but also keeps organisations connected to the problems and languages that occur in their territories. 

With the aim of promoting youth participation in organisations, as well as listening to their current struggles, Red Encuentro launched the program "Protagonism, action and transformation", aimed at young people linked to their member organisations and coordinated by expert Mariana Incarnato.

During 4 virtual meetings held between October and November 2020, participants from various Argentine provinces and neighbouring countries worked on concepts like citizenship, rights, influence, militancy, collectives, generation of public policies, among others. The idea was to use different experiences to identify how to achieve influence in public policies from a committed exercise of citizenship and which actors are involved in that process.

One perspective that was especially helpful was to present organisational experiences with a visible and measurable impact. One such example was the experience of Mariana lácono, a leading figure from the Argentine Community of Women with HIV. Answering questions from the participants, Mariana recounted her experience, from the moment she discovered she was HIV positive to the present day, where she leads the activism for the rights of those living with HIV. In her story, she emphasized the various struggles that are taking place, recalled the importance of a legal framework to protect rights and warned about the misinformation that exists in society. Moreover, with her experience, she illustrated the need to transform individual struggles into collective ones and to seek out spaces that exert influence on the stage of society.

It was also relevant to bring up the concept of a global agenda, which sparked a debate on what is youth activism and where it is within that agenda. In this sense, the workshop highlighted the global agendas of Human Rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, and an attempt was made to link them to the global and regional youth agendas. 

Based on the reality of the organisations that make up our Network, to sustain and encourage the participation of youth in their territorial schemes so that they are also incorporated in a stable way to their structures, we believe it is vital to make the tools of advocacy that our networks have known how to build accessible to the youth, as well as promoting in our organisations the contribution of the youth to the construction of new tools more in line with their realities.