#CommitToAct: Equipping Young Advocates in Capitán Sarmiento

In Argentina, A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S. is equipping a group of young women to use the #CommitToAct campaign to ask local authorities in Capitán Sarmiento, a small city in Buenos Aires province, to intervene on five critical points. The dangers it highlights are:

  1. Speeding on streets informally used as racetracks, where drivers have been recorded driving at over 150 km per hour.
  2. Three avenues (diagonals) in the cities, where trucks and other vehicles pass and it is impossible for pedestrians to cross.
  3. Streets with kindergartens where sidewalks are in poor condition, forcing mothers and their children to walk on streets that have no signs advising drivers to slow down around children
  4. Poor lighting outside the fire station
  5. Poor visibility of cyclists because drivers are double parked on many of the city’s avenues

These specific targets have been identified through work that A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S is doing with these young women to empower them to demand action on road risks that they themselves have identified. Ema Cibotti, A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S’ Director, explains how this is a new approach for the NGO. “Instead of being us the ones who directly propose the commitment to action with an authority,” she says, “we are doing it indirectly by supporting a group of citizens we prepare and train, so that they can observe and analyze road risks in their community.”

A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S. delivered the training via Zoom, through a teacher-training institute, and worked with the young women to support them in the advocacy process, from identifying risks to presenting them to the authorities (which they were unable to do in person because of the pandemic). They helped them to create demand letters to ask the authorities when and how they will act for safer roads and sustainable mobility in each of these five situations. A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S. and its young activists are also requesting that the city conduct a study on reducing the speed limit throughout the city to 30 km per hour, except at the points where trucks enter and exit the city. “The young women could not be received by the authorities, but they do know that their letter is being considered,” Ema says. “Although we do not know how long it will take to receive a response.” In the meantime, A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S. is helping the young women to use city radio to publicly communicate their requests.

Ema also says: “At A.C.T.I.V.V.A.S., we are promoting road awareness through personal perception of road risk because we believe that, if people do not subjectively perceive road risk situations, they cannot objectively become aware of safe behaviors. There is much talk about risk factors but nothing about risk perception, and this personal perception is essential for developing responsible behavior and also for demanding action from the authorities. ”