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Youth Activism: the Key to Building a Better World

"So terrified of a young girl"

In 2019, Ofelia Fernández became the youngest legislator in Latin America and her image, the representation of a group emerging in Argentina since 2015: the feminist youth.

Fernández completed her secondary education at Commercial High School Carlos Pellegrini, in the City of Buenos Aires. There, she was president of the Student Council during 2016. She participated in many feminist protests and meetings as part of the Patria Grande Front. In 2018, she was the youngest speaker at the G-20 counter-summit, organized by Clacso.

Her being a young, peronist woman makes her a huge target for libertarian advocates in Twitter, as well as the object of criticism from the opposition and some journalists. They have even attacked her mother, accusing her of being "corrupt." In response to the pain this caused to her family, Fernández vented on Twitter: "I can take it because I chose this life, but now my mother is suffering for this shit. ‘Reliable’ media is now repeating that my mom is corrupt because she's in a legal employment relationship with a currency exchange business. They're so terrified of this young girl, fucking cowards."

Her political ideas and her commitment to social justice shine through the bills she has put forward in her time in office as legislator for the City of Buenos Aires. Last October, TIME magazine chose her as one of the Next Generation Leaders.

What is the Generation Equality Forum?

The Generation Equality Forum is a global gathering promoted by UN Women to achieve higher gender equality rates internationally. Its starting point is the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Many world renowned activists participated in this year's edition. Alongside women leaders, president Alberto Fernández gave a presentation during the panel on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Bodily Autonomy.

Among the women leaders was the world's youngest prime minister, Sanna Marin (35). The Finnish dignitary talked about the public policies necessary to achieve gender equality across states. Another leading figure present was Salomé Zourabichvli, Georgia's first woman president, who took a firm stance against all types of violence and hate speech.

Other public figures who participated were phumzilemlambongcuka, who at the time was UN Women Executive Director; founder of Zimbabwe's Little Dreamers Foundation Shantel Marekera and recipients of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.

Never again: life beyond being "Walsh's daughter"

Although María Victoria Walsh is usually remembered because she was related to the famous journalist Rodolfo Walsh (author of Operation Massacre), she was also an active political activist and media worker in her youth.

In Letter to Vicki, written by her father after she was murdered by the Military during Argentina's last dictatorship, her activism in Montoneros was made public. At age 22, she began working as a journalist for La Opinión newspaper, where she was elected a union representative. The workers at said newspaper had serious conflicts with its director, Jacobo Timerman, and in the context of extreme political violence in the country she was forced to leave her job when Timerman started to fire journalists accusing them of being "subversive."

She became a member of Montoneros working as an activist in a slum. She climbed her way up to second-in-command and led the press department of the union front. When the organization was forced to go clandestine in September 1974, her codename was "Hilda."

Her life was cut short in the middle of a military raid on Corro Street (City of Buenos Aires), an event that became known as "the Massacre on Corro Street.'' During 2015, those murders started to be investigated as part of the case "I Cuerpo del Ejército'' for crimes against humanity. In May 2017, her sister Patricia Walsh filed a formal request to have María Victoria's death be investigated in that case, in the context of State terrorism in Argentina.

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