By EENGD, member of Forus in Argentina

With their meeting "Legislative Agenda: Childhood and Community", the EENGD network (Meeting of Non-Governmental Entities for Development), a member of FORUS in Argentina, launches a cycle of online open conversations with figures who can directly impact public policies.

The pandemic has dramatically highlighted the importance of coordination between civil society organizations and States, in order to respond dynamically to the needs of different communities which are facing new rights violations alongside an exacerbation of those that already exist.

Beginning with the pandemic crisis, and building on the momentum implied by the State's recognition concerning a large number of people living in informality and with unmet basic needs, together with the development of a legislative agenda which – boosted by civil society – is in effect within the government's agenda, the Network promotes renewing and revitalising its strategies to be able to influence structural public policies. In this respect, the main advocates for this agenda have been convened in order to establish an organic dialogue on the demands of highly diverse popular sectors, to draw up proposals for action, and to put forward flexible and effective mechanisms to communicate these proposals.

The first meeting of this cycle (virtual, due to current restrictions) was moderated by Alberto Croce (CADE) and Rolando Kandel (Red Encuentro network), and was attended by national legislators Claudia Bernazza and María Rosa Martínez, who gave an enlightening overview of the three bills on social-community work presented in the National Congress. Laura Taffetani (Sociedad Civil en Red), on the other hand, elaborated on the Law for Community Workers presented before the Ministry of Social Development, with the aim of becoming an Executive Branch bill.

The initiatives in question – which could represent the first opportunities for recognition and formalisation in Latin America for people who carry out social-community tasks as employees – received energetic support from representatives from organizations all over the country who were present during the discussion. Dissemination and support strategies were outlined for the approval and subsequent implementation of the laws.

For initiatives of this type, the Red Encuentro network intends to take an active role in the field of social organizations, with which – in addition to strengthening the links between organizations and supporting their territorial processes – it proposes working together on building spaces to make their proposals visible and to accelerate the process of identifying partners who allow them to make these projects possible.

In the current climate of renewed social awareness, people's demands are able to reach more attentive ears. While territorial organizations detect and communicate these demands, it may be the organizations' networks that find new ways of developing them and discover paths to bring the demands to fruition.

The next discussion of the cycle will feature Federico Berardi (National Director of Early Childhood of the Ministry of Social Development) and  Néstor Borri  (from the Red Encuentro network and Director of the Nueva Tierra Centre), who will discuss the renewed relationship between social organizations, public management, and the State.

These open meetings also seek to underpin a process of expansion and strengthening of the Network, which involves simultaneous actions focused on:
revaluing each organisation's mechanisms of intervention in their territory;
recognising the voice of new individuals involved in the Network, namely:
renewing member participation for each organisation in the Network;
incorporating into the Network new organisations which can add to the platform's process of advocacy;
encouraging proposal making, both inside and outside the Network.

We hope to give these actions a framework for reflection on the role of the Network and of CSOs at this time and in this place, without losing sight of the need to translate theoretical constructions into concrete lines of action outside the Network. In this respect, we envisage concluding this stage of the Project with the development of a five-year plan of action which includes new voices and demands, which is visible, and which ensures commitment at local and national levels, in order to open up new areas of civil society participation in the creation and implementation of public policies.