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Online and on the ground: connecting those most in need with the UN

Published at UNA-UK The distance between the UN Headquarters in New York and my hometown in Tunisia has shrunk over the past two decades. Today, in the age of laptops and mobile data, the United Nations feels more accessible, but many in the global South are still unable to participate. When the United Nations was designing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the late 1990s, the public had little say in the process. Fifteen years later, thanks largely to the internet and online consultations, over nine million individuals were able to engage in setting priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Before the SDGs, the UN all too often only heard from large, well-resourced organisations, which may not reflect the reality at a community level, while the voices of the citizens who are most in need are not heard. But this new agenda provides an opportunity to re-balance power relations between civil society in the global North and South. To achieve these targets, the UN n

Maximizing the benefits of the AfCFTA for young people

 Published at  The Futures Report AfCFTA Secretariat What AfCFTA holds for African youth Demographically, Africa is the youngest continent in the world. However, despite making up this significant percentage, youth participation is limited in the decision-making in the socio- economic arenas, especially cross-border trade and governance matters. Young people are central to the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063 and are major stakeholders of the cardinal framework in the domestication and stepping down process. Young people in Africa are adversely impacted by high levels of unemployment,   low quality jobs, and major obstacles to participation in cross-border trade.   Young entrepreneurs face a wide set of bottlenecks that hinder their willingness to engage in and benefit from international trade, such as steep taxes while trading across borders. Another major challenge faced by young entrepreneurs in Africa  is financing; for instance, securing loans from banks and access to

FEMINISTS CLAIMING CIVIC SPACE

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  In 2011, the world felt inspired by the power of the Tunisian people that toppled its decades-long authoritarian regime and sparked a wave of citizen action throughout the region and the world. The international community then noticed the presence of women at the forefront of these movements, challenging the widespread preconception of a region devoid of women’s activism. The reality was, indeed, much more complex. Women in Tunisia and the region had been fighting for social change, equality, and democracy for more than a century. This decade, however, sees the emergence of a generation of women who use new means to fight for their rights and face their various struggles. Since the revolution, women have been occupying public spaces to organise and stand up for civic causes. In the words of Mike Douglass, however, the mere existence of “a public square, park or other spaces that appear to be civic spaces is not necessarily an indication of opportunities for civil society to engage in

Better education for African youth can help silence the guns

  I come from a country that has a highly educated population, with literacy rates over   80% for youth . During the Tunisian Revolution in 2011, it was mostly educated but unemployed people who protested in the streets. After the revolution, education impacted the democratic transition. Young people who took part in the movement organized themselves into media collectives, advocacy groups, some went into the parliament. Education played a key role in citizen engagement and participation in governance. The demographic dividend is an opportunity for Africa The demography of Africa, with a youth population expected to increase by 42% by 2030, is an asset, not a threat. At the local level and with community leaders, we need to reframe the discourse on girls’ education. Leaders are afraid that educating a girl will threaten cultural and social values. Our role as youth is to help leaders understand it differently, so they can invest in education and develop the political will needed to sus

The G7 should deliver progress, not promises, on gender equality

 Published at EuroNews  Nearly 10 years have passed since the beginning of what we call the revolution of dignity, many of you refer to it as the ‘Arab spring’. I was a part of it. We were angry, we wanted a future where we could fulfil our potential. Our struggle was a struggle for voice as we did not see our views and hopes represented within our own governments. Even if the outcome and the progress of the protests vary from one country to another, there can be no doubt that the youth has changed the course of history. What is particularly interesting, is that young women were powerful drivers of this movement. Their involvement went beyond direct participation in the protests. Be it as organizers, journalists or political activists - young women became the leading force in cyber-activism. Before I became a youth envoy of the African Union - I was one of these women. We seized the momentum to make our voices heard and our actions seen. Take a closer look at the current situation in S

G7 : il n’y aura pas de révolution durable sans féminisme

Jeune Afrique   À la veille du sommet du G7 en France, la jeune activiste tunisienne Aya Chebbi souligne l’opportunité que ce rendez-vous représente pour s’attaquer aux inégalités femmes-hommes, notamment au niveau législatif, et grâce à l’implication inédite de chefs d’État africains.  Près de dix années se sont écoulées depuis le début de ce que nous appelons la révolution de la dignité,  qualifiée par beaucoup de « Printemps arabe » . J’en faisais partie. Nous étions en colère, nous demandions un avenir dans lequel nous pourrions réaliser nos rêves. Notre combat était aussi un combat pour nous faire entendre, car nos idées et nos espoirs n’étaient pas représentés au sein de nos gouvernements. Même si les protestations ont évolué d’un pays à l’autre et ont eu des résultats différents, ça ne fait aucun doute : la jeunesse a changé le cours de l’histoire. De nombreuses jeunes femmes ont été au premier rang de ce mouvement. Leur implication est allée au-delà de leur participation aux ma

Empowering the African Youth through Education

  According to the United Nations, one in ten children around the world currently live in war-torn areas, with close to 25 million currently out of school. The gigantic strides and landmarks in technology throughout the world (particularly in the area of artificial intelligence) also compound the challenges of the labor market that frustrate the youth – making the terrain very unfamiliar for the uneducated. If our young people are unemployed and out of schools, they will be unable to contribute to decision-making processes, isolating the youth politically and civically even more. Because education virtually touches everything affecting our lives and societies, there is a global consensus to advance  Goal 4  of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly “ensure inclusive, equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. On the other hand, the African Union (AU)  Agenda 2063  aims to develop Africa’s human and social capital through educati

Let's Talk Narratives, Privilege and Power

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My contribution to   ACEVO ’s 30th birthday, 30 things to think about  at   #acevo30     Published originally at  http://30thingstothinkabout.org/voices/ Narratives For the next few decades, the world will continue to be constructed around narratives. Who shapes the narratives? And whose voice is heard? Take young people as an example. Last year I researched   youth radicalisation , carrying out a comparative study between Al-Shabaab’s recruitment in Kenya and Daesh’s recruitment in Tunisia. My most important finding was that the victimhood narrative of marginalised youth is contributing to youth radicalisation. The victimisation narrative is used by extremist groups to recruit and sustain support. Many young people have internalised the idea that they are marginalised and are perceived to be heroic when they join these violent groups. We need to start asking ourselves, are we contributing to narratives of empowerment or disempowerment? Do we offer counter-narratives, or cr