My experiences through IRI’s Generation Democracy reinforced my conviction that the only road to generate real change in our communities is through civic and social commitment.

My name is Valentina Díaz Estévez. I am an Argentine, a public accountant and a mediator.

In 2015, I joined the Women’s Democracy Network and developed new skills through the mentoring program and Women’s Leadership School, a space that empowers women on the road to political participation. From 2016 to 2017, I coordinated a youth program, the Deliberative Student Council, in the Honorable Deliberative Council of the City of Parana, Entre Rios Province.

I am currently part of “The Change Generation” (La Generación del cambio), a political group under the umbrella of the Argentine national political party, Republican Proposal (Propuesta Republicana-PRO). I have been part of this group since I started my professional career, because I’ve always felt that as a young person I should contribute to a better country in some way. Last year’s Generation Democracy Regional Academy reinforced my commitment to participating in this group.

In March 2018, I had the opportunity to represent my country in the International Republican Institute’s first Generation Democracy Regional Academy in Panama City, Panama with 25 leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean (Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, among others).

Valentina Díaz Estévez with Panama City mayor José Isabel Blandón Figueroa. 

This inspiring experience filled me with hope after discovering that so many young people are committed to their communities and countries. Everyone came from different places and backgrounds, but all were searching for the same thing:  developing innovative projects that pass down civic and political responsibilities to the next generation of leaders to create more resilient and inclusive democracies.  

Young people are dedicated to sharing their voices with other youth involved in civic and political processes. They are united to confront the challenges facing our region, advocating for reforms that prevent corrupt governments from seeking reelection and ensure that they are held accountable through the justice system. Young people are promoting civic education from an early age, working to eliminate barriers to youth participation in electoral processes, and using technology that facilitates their inclusion into and communication with the wider world.

The message that stood out to me most was that of Vice Minister of Panama, Carlos Rubio, who encouraged us to motivate other youth to get involved in our respective countries and move from protest to policy, and from policy to action.

After hearing each one of the participants’ testimonies on their own leadership journeys, I can affirm that the concrete test to detect true transformations in communities is political participation or involvement in civic organizations. There is no better way than to involve yourself in activities that generate impact and social change.   

I returned to my country with valuable tools like virtual platforms that I am using in the youth spaces that I currently belong to (Women’s Democracy Network-Argentina Chapter’s youth network and “The Change Generation”) and full of innovative ideas for promoting youth participation in decision making. I learned from the regional youth leaders at the Regional Academy and now share those valuable experiences with Argentine youth leaders.  

Through the Ideathon that we carried out in the Regional Academy, we arrived at great conclusions about the problems that affect Latin American youth. For example, as an Argentine, it is fundamental to further promote the fight against corruption through public information transparency and visualization. This includes the publication of government statistics that allow the public to evaluate public administration processes and Open Government policies so that all citizens have access to and understand this information.   

Representing my country and the youth who are civically involved in Argentina has played a fundamental role for me on the road to improving how we conduct politics.  

I returned to Argentina convinced that a better future starts with us.

Thanks to Generation Democracy and to each of the youth leaders because they taught me that even in our countries’ most difficult moments, you can maintain the commitment, hope and fight for democracy.

Thank you. You all were an inspiration.  

Now I know that I have a friend in each country in Latin America and I hope that we maintain contact and unite for the good of our countries and the region.

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