Young Women’s Rights Activist Helps Pave the Way for a New Generation

Sensing a sharp decline in Argentina’s economic and political situation, Agustina decided she had no choice but to leave if she ever wanted to build a better future for herself. “My grandparents’ generation was able to afford a house, but those days are long gone,” Agustina explains. “Now people worry if they will make rent.” 

At the beginning of 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, Agustina was tirelessly chasing down the public administration to file paperwork to apply for a Master in Public Services and Social Policies in Salamanca, Spain. “Everyone goes through some sort of challenge when they decide to migrate – navigating the bureaucratic process during the pandemic was my cross to bear,” she laughs.

Upon her arrival in Spain, the adaptation process turned out to be smoother than expected as most of her colleagues were studying social policies and she felt they were more open-minded about migrants. A few months later, during their late night calls, her parents were already picking up on the new words she was using and her slightly different accent.

Nevertheless, it took some time for Agustina to warm up to the cold European ways. “In Argentina, you can call someone and let them know you are in front of their house, and they invite you over; here, you need to schedule a meeting weeks in advance,” she jokes.

Spain has opened my eyes to many things I was oblivious to. In Argentina, I didn't know as many Latin American or African migrants as I do in Spain. Now, I carry a bit of culture from everyone I meet.

To ease her homesickness, together with her Latin American friends, she often organizes Sunday dinners. When she feels particularly down, she calls her abuela to ask for an empanada recipe and it brightens both of their days. 

“Sometimes I contemplate going back home,” Agustina confesses, “but then I hear about the troubles that my friends go through.” Many Argentinian youth never get to finish their degree and have to find a job at an early age, she explains. “This is not the kind of future that I want for myself or my future family,” she says.

Agustina Photo
Agustina’s current goal is to find a job, further her studies and grow as a person in Spain      
IOM/Monica Chiriac

Agustina considers herself to be a fierce activist for women’s rights and has already worked with several non-profit organizations. In her province, women are more vulnerable to gender-based violence and abortion recently became illegal. Passionate about migration, she has helped migrant women write their resumes and has raised awareness among teenagers about discrimination and hate speech.

To further develop her analytical skills, Agustina recently attended a training organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the framework of its Migrando Miradas initiative. The project promotes ethical communication on migration among future media professionals and supports the fight against misinformation, xenophobia and hate speech.

Argentina will always be Agustina's home and she will gladly return to visit her family and friends, but her current goal is to find a job, further her studies and grow as a person in Spain.

Above all, she hopes to make her parents proud. 

Agustina Graduation
Augustina’s parents travelled from Argentina to attend her graduation in Salamanca, Spain.       
Agustina’s personal archive

Last year, they finally came to visit for her graduation. “For the first time, they got to see the old Agustina in her new environment, and they understood – they told me to stay if it made me that happy.”

IOM’s “Migrando Miradas” project is financed by the Ministry of Social Inclusion, Social Security and Migration of Spain.