Shaping a National Youth Council in Tunisia
From 4 to 6 March 2016, participants from NET–MED Youth and other youth organizations, gathered in Tunis in discuss the implementation of a National Youth Council.
In order to strengthen the emerging democracy in Tunisia, NET MED Youth, in collaboration with a number of youth organizations, is engaged in the set-up of a National Youth Council. This Council aims to serve as an appropriate framework through which youth can participate in analyzing public policies, elaborating strategies and formulating recommendations related to youth issues. “It is vital that young people are involved in helping to overcome the lack of a public policy on youth in Tunisia, and to accompany the change and democratic transition,” said Aly Bouzwida, from the youth organization Jamaity.
“Since the revolution, everyone talks about youth on behalf of youth, while young people themselves are not involved in the dialogue. An initiative such as the Youth Council is an efficient way to increase youth participation in decision making processes. I think it will enable youth voices to be heard resoundingly,” said Inès Agrebi from AISSEC. She also highlighted the importance of “consolidating the feelings of belonging among youth and promoting awareness about the growing issues and challenges they encounter”.
This project is the result of the work of a coalition of young people that aims to engage decision makers in dialogue and constructive collaboration at a time when the government is beginning to reflect on its strategy for youth.
“The revolution led to the creation of a number of NGOs and youth initiatives that are carrying out more dynamic and creative work on youth than any public institution, and with scant resources. However, because of the lack of overarching coordination, particularly regarding work with public authorities, this community of NGOs often notes that their impact is minimal. The creation of a National Youth Council would be an obvious solution,” said Inès Labidi, a member of the organization, Tun’ACT. According to her, when young people get engaged in civil society, they don’t do so for personal gain, but to improve their environment. “We need to fight stereotypes about Tunisian youth. Young Tunisians are graduates, motivated, hungry for knowledge, open-minded, open to dialogue, multi-lingual and ready to make great efforts and sacrifices”.
The brainstorming workshop laid the groundwork for the future National Youth Council. It gathered over twenty young woman and men in order to collectively define key elements of the project and reach an agreement on a roadmap for the next steps. Two experts, Fethi Touzri and Saber Louhichi, were also present at the workshop to help orientate participants. Anne Hitzegarad and Anas Missaoui, who have led local youth participation projects within their respective organizations, GIZ-Tunisia and Search for common ground, also took part. They highlighted the fact that decision makers are more and more open to the idea of youth participation even if they don’t yet consider it a priority.
The experts shared their methodologies, observations and recommendations for a National Youth Council. Remaining flexible, ensuring good representation of young people, adopting a strategy of visibility and efficient communication, analyzing the economic, political and social situation and focusing on direct participation mechanisms, were just a few of their tips.
The workshop concluded with young people agreeing on the definition of key concepts on the legal framework of the future Council, as well as on a communication and visibility strategy and a logical framework. Finally, participants agreed on project Governance and operational modalities after having considered various options. A consensus document was then drafted, outlining the key elements agreed.
While the workshop constituted a significant step in the right direction, the real work is only just beginning.
Member organizations of the coalition:
Jeunes chambres internationales, Jamaity, JID, Tun’act, Sawty, AIESEC, Jeunes Entreprises, Conseil des Jeunes Leaders (Bizerte), Conseil des Jeunes Leaders (Beja), Gabes Action, We love Kairouan et ATAC.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.