Hello! I’m María Rodríguez Alcázar.

I believe it’s the moment to build the platform for Youth Rights we can all feel proud of. I’m running for President of the European Youth Forum so we can do it together.

#WeArePresent and this is #OurMOment! Welcome.

Where I come From

My journey in the youth field
  • 2010-2013 Elected President at the Student Union of the High School IES Gil de Junterón (ADEBEN)

    A nonconformist teenager upset with the situation of students in her high school was the seed to what came after. Student assemblies, debates, proposals to increase student participation, awareness raising activities, meetings with head teacher and school council. Soon we discovered there were other school student unions across the region and started cooperating with them.

  • 2011-2012 Elected Board Member at the Murcian Regional Organisation of School Students (FEMAE)

    This was my first time holding a responsibility at the regional level. I was responsible for internal and external communications, although I ended up supporting colleagues with different portfolios, mainly in regional education policy. Connecting students in the region and making them think about the world around them was our main objective.

  • 2012-2013 Elected President at the Murcian Regional Organisation of School Students (FEMAE)

    I remember this as a very tough experience. I led the organisation in a period in which the budget and opportunities for youth participation were dramatically shrinking. Unfortunately this would only continue in the upcoming years. With a very imaginative team we managed to continue developing our activities for students to get empowered and mobilise for their rights.

  • 2011-2016 Elected Member of the National Education Advisory Council to the Ministry of Education

    Most of the things I know about policy making and citizen participation I learnt through this experience at the highest advisory body to the Ministry of Education in Spain, composed of representatives of teachers, parents, students and public administration. Being a (very) young woman in a room full of reasonably old suited-up men hardened my character and made me bolder about age and gender discrimination.

  • 2013-2016 Elected President of the National Spanish Organisation of School Students Unions (CANAE)

    Here I learnt how crucial it is to cooperate with other civil society actors. Austerity measures were implemented in Spain and resources in the Education field decreased drastically, which was followed by a sharp retraction in student participation rights by a draft bill. Our main fights were the guarantee of free quality education, scholarship system to ensure equity and maintenance of student participation channels and means by law. I was also engaging in the activities of OBESSU, our European platform.

  • 2013-2016 Member of Working Group against the removal of the Spanish Youth Council (CJE) - “Let’s save CJE”

    It became clearer than ever that we cannot take for granted our rights. A report from the government declared in 2013 the disappearance of CJE because “it was a duplicate organ of the Institute for Youth”. For years youth organisations in Spain we worked intensely together against it in a strategy with all the political parties, national civil society organisations, the European Youth Forum and its membership, which were crucial and determinant support. We managed to stop the removal of CJE by having a juridical transition.

  • Elected Monitoring Committee of the Organising Bureau of Secondary School Student Unions (OBESSU)

    This experience allowed me to better understand the functioning of the European organisation in which I was participating as a delegate for years. Together with two more people, my role was overseeing the performance of the organisation and making sure everything worked according to the given rules and political platform.

  • 2017-2018 OBESSU Pool of Trainers

    I still like supporting my background organisation with training, that is a humble way to give back. My specializations when I was a member of the OBESSU PoT was advocacy towards public institutions and participatory processes to create policy documents.

  • 2016-2018 Elected Board member at the Spanish Youth Council (CJE)

    I would define this period as the art of negotiation at its fullest. We worked out with the government a new regulation for CJE. This juridical transition lasted for 2.5 years, in which we managed to have all our members aboard to create the new decree regulating the Council.

    In the meantime, we didn’t stop the rest of our activity. I was responsible for the annual planning, the revision process of our policy programme and the formal education portfolio.

  • 2018-2020 Elected Vice President of the Spanish Youth Council (CJE)

    This was the moment to build, almost from scratch, a new structure for the Council, for which I led the creation process of our Rules of Procedure. In this full-time volunteering position, I was the coordinator of the Policy and Advocacy towards the Government and Parliament.

    In March 2020 COVID-19 arrived. Since then, it was more needed than ever to advocate for improving the living conditions of young people, the group with the highest poverty rates. Our advocacy then focused on the social and economic inclusion of young people and recovering youth work and spaces for participation.

  • 2018-2020 Chair of the Spanish NWG for the EU Youth Dialogue

    This was an opportunity to connect local participation with the European level. However, it was also a frustrating process at times. At the national level, we took advantage of the opportunity to have some conversations with decision-makers about the Youth Goals and advocate for a National Youth Strategy framed within the European one.

  • 2020-2021 Expert Group on Youth Rights

    Human Rights law and advocacy around it is my passion. I supported the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights and the CEDAW review of Belgium, Sweden and Azerbaijan (and previously engaged in the Spanish one).

  • 2021-2022 Elected Board Member at the European Youth Forum

    During this mandate, I’ve been fighting for youth rights from the social and economic inclusion portfolio. Mainstreaming youth across the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, working for quality internships, or making sure the problems young people are facing in the aftermath of COVID-19 are reflected in data and known by policymakers, are part of my responsibilities. In our Governance Review, I was in charge of the elaboration of the new Policy Programme.

    Currently, I am a member of the Advisory Group on Youth for the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council in 2023, where I have successfully advocated for strengthening the mechanisms to protect young people’s rights as the main priority.

  • 2023-2024 It's #OurMOment!

What I propose

Together we will

I envision the European Youth Forum as a diverse and thriving network of youth organisations with the belief to protect, promote and expand youth rights, making young people the agents of their lives, and central actors of society and decision-making.

1. Strengthen our network​.

Being a more closely connected network of strong youth organisations will make us a healthy and flourishing platform to face the challenges of our generation, both internally and externally. Our network makes us robust and resilient!​

Members shaping the Forum.

Membership engagement is the cornerstone of the YFJ. Structured and accessible opportunities and channels to engage far beyond the statutory meetings will foster our internal participation.💡

Supporting each other to be vibrant.

Making sure that youth organisations are legally and politically recognised, resulting in sustainable funding. I think of the YFJ as the common space to foster alliances, share struggles and potential challenges of members, as well as the space to design coordinated strategies, drawing on each MO’s experience. 💡

Making best practices and achievements shine.

The knowledge and expertise from all of the YFJ membership must be visible and known within the network and outside of it (e.g. transformative projects, approach to internal challenges, ongoing policy processes), in order to get inspired, replicate and scale up! 💡

Powering up our network.

We can arrive very far in our advocacy efforts when working coordinately, sharing information, resources and supporting each other with our political and social capital. Movement and changes do not happen only at the European level! 💡

2. Fight #ForYouthRights.​

In our daily life, different forms of discrimination and hate prevent us from enjoying our rights. We are discriminated against because of our age, our gender, background, ethnicity, beliefs, physical appearence, sexual orientation, capacities, and many more. I am convinced we are the driving force to youth up the society, combat discriminations and ensure fair living conditions for the current and future generations of young people.

Promoting youth rights.

Keep on building our capacities to adopt a rights-based approach in our work and be aware of our rights as young people and the mechanisms to protect them. 💡

Protecting youth rights.

Not only being quicker to respond to burning human rights and rule of law threats, but also adopting a forward-looking view to identify current and future risks endangering our rights. Use all the mechanisms available, from online campaigns to legal action. 💡

Expanding youth rights.

Society evolves and youth rights must do accordingly. A legally binding treaty on the rights of young people and, most importantly, mechanisms to protect them, will only be created with our drive and determination. 💡

Mainstreaming youth rights.

making sure that youth rights are considered in the different policy initiatives created, within and beyond the youth sector,and in the existing human rights mechanisms. 💡

3. Make youth indispensable​.

Young people, youth rights and youth organisations are too often overlooked. Too many times we are not even invited to take a seat on the table. It’s our MOment to be bolder, more recognised and memorable, positioning young people as agents that cannot be missing.

Levelling up our political presence.

Let’s make our work and key demands known by high-level institutional stakeholders and relevant organisations. The Youth Forum must be seen as the resourceful, serious, reliable partner it is.💡

Engaging united in the relevant conversations of our times.

Key processes such as the European Parliament elections, the reflection on the future of the Council of Europe or the UNFCCC climate crisis negotiations are taking place and will strongly determine the upcoming years. We must engage together as the voice of young people in Europe! 💡

Talking the political language rooted in evidence.

Advocacy efforts must come hand in hand with research, data and evidenced arguments about our stands. Our work should advance together with research on youth! 💡

Thinking big and creating our own narratives.

Aim high in our political claims, be proactive and shape the long-term narrative about young people we want to see in the world. Show the world that we are (the) present, ready and eager to take up the role we deserve in society. 💡

4. Feel proud of the European Youth Forum.​

Build up among the membership, the Board and the Secretariat the pride of belonging to the YFJ family. Work towards a united platform where everyone feels appreciated and contributes to a mission we believe in.

Sharing a common story about the Youth Forum in all the corners of Europe.

From the Black to the North Sea, through EU and non-EU countries. Defining our common values, mission and vision as a Platform under the design of the Strategic Priorities of YFJ for the next 5 years.💡

Belonging through knowing YFJ better.

Continue the steps taken to make our platform more accessible to everyone and deepen transparent and honest communication measures. Show what YFJ does, but also the limitations in our work. 💡

Functioning according to our shared values and political views.

We are consistent when plural, inclusive, equal, and caring about the well-being of people, and the planet are not just words in a list, but principles that we strive to implement internally and externally every day. And that requires a plan! 💡

Making a relevant and significant contribution.

Define YFJ’s working priorities with the membership, in order to invest the available resources to make the best contribution possible to the improvement of young people’s lives in all parts of Europe and beyond. Then communicate, share and celebrate the achievements! 💡

Beyond youth activism

10 things about me
10 things about me beyond youth activism:
  1. I live in the lovely city of Ghent (Belgium), but I come from the Spanish orchards in Murcia 🍋
  2. I am a PhD Student at UN University Institute for Comparative Regional Integration Studies and Ghent University 📚
  3. I am a vegetarian, mostly for environmental reasons! 🥦
  4. I am a proud mother of a ficus and three cacti 🌵
  5. My way to relax is learning languages, especially grammar structures 🤓
  6. I used to be policy and advocacy officer at the Spanish Platform of Children Rights Organisations 💼
  7. I have a personal challenge before I become 30 👀
  8. I am a founding member of the LGBTQI+ association in my hometown and I’m so happy it exists 🌈
  9. I love reading poetry. I collect anthologies of female poets ♀️
  10. I do like energizers and ice-breaking activities 🙊


Individually and in a team

These are some of the processes in which I’ve been engaged in the last few years!

Recovered the Gender Watch at the Youth Forum statutory meetings.
Advocacy for young people to be one of the six priority pillars of the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Increased evidence-based approach toward policymaking in the youth field. Youth Progress Index as a recognised tool.
Advocacy to save the Spanish Youth Council and negotiation of the current CJE’s regulation.
Policy Programme elaborated with a participatory process and approved by almost unanimity within the membership.
Youth Pledge: Mainstreaming Youth Rights across the different initiatives of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and commitment of five Commissioners, MEPs of different political families and Prime Ministers to hold accountable.
Spanish priority for the EU Council Presidency in 2023 on youth: mechanisms to protect young people’s rights.

Do you want to know more about my work as YFJ Board Member? Have a look to my Instagram stories 

“Can you afford to work for free?” campaign and policy changes at the national level supported through it. Shift in the approach from a “youth issue” to a “labour market issue”.
Más info
Advocacy for youth organisations to be consulted by the High-Level Group on Social Protection of the EU Commission and be considered in their recommendations.
More diversity of organisations at the Spanish Youth Council: facilitating access to organisations representing marginalised groups, approaching the youth organisations that were not participating actively and making sure that the Council was a safe space for everyone.

Official candicacy


Let’s talk!

Let’s continue the conversation to build together the platform for youth rights we can all feel proud of.

#WeArePresent and this is #OurMOment!

Let’s meet!
I’m available any Tuesday from 16:00 to 21:00 CEST. Otherwise, we can arrange another moment that suits you best!
Ask me anything!

Find me and follow me on social media!

Let’s meet!
I’m available any Tuesday from 16:00 to 21:00 CEST. Otherwise, we can arrange another moment that suits you best!

Ask me anything!

Thank you for being part of #OurMOment! Ask me anything or have a look at the questions of other people below.

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