MENA Youth Build Online Advocacy Campaigns for a Better Tomorrow

“We shared one passionate spirit to formulate our visions for a better tomorrow and a better world.”
- Ahmed from Egypt on his experience at the Active Citizenship and Movement Building Institute for Millennials in Beirut, Lebanon.

On June 11, 2015, 26 anticipated leaders from 11 countries across the Middle East convened to identify common challenges faced by youth in the region and discover youth mobilization tactics to overcome these challenges and achieve social justice. Using Women’s Learning Partnership's culturally adapted training manuals, participants were exposed to critical concepts related to horizontal and participatory leadership and challenged deeply rooted gender stereotypes that have a negative impact on their society. Participants also were introduced to digital movement-building strategies to enable them to voice their opinion and strengthen their role in political and social movements in the MENA region during this transitional period. Rajaa from Saudi Arabia commented, "The intellectual and cultural diversity was a positive element and a strong support for future change the Arab youth is seeking."

 [We] did not dream that a four-day training in Beirut will change inside us many meanings, our understanding of humanity in the first place, and our professional and personal lives.
— Ahmed, Participant from Egypt
 

In just four days, participants initiated four advocacy campaigns using online tools to address critical issues that currently challenge youth in the region. The campaigns addressed fundamentalism and extremism ideologies, stereotypes and prejudices based on nationality, early marriage, and women's illiteracy. One participant commented, “The most useful activity was developing advocacy campaigns because it united different ideas, backgrounds and people to work on a shared vision.” On the training last day, Participants were awarded certificates for completing the training and playing an active role in creating a safe environment for everyone to change and grow. Ahmed added, "A group of young males and females, gathered from 11 Arab countries, to learn the art of leadership and management, but they did not dream that a four-day training in the Lebanon capital, Beirut, will change inside them many meanings, their understanding of humanity in the first place, then their professional and personal lives."

In the months following the Institute, participants continue to support one another by using online social tools to keep in touch, share updates on the campaigns, and announce their professional accomplishments. Participants work in groups along with the facilitators to develop and expand their campaigns. On September 30, 2015, WLP held an online convening for all the training participants to discuss the status of the campaigns and outline steps to sustain their progress and extend the impact of the institute. Participants shared challenges in implementing the campaigns, developed strategies and lessons learned from the training, and collectively came up with solutions to overcome the challenges. Participants left the online convening motivated to work together toward their project campaign goals, and also to create models for Arab youth collaboration across national borders toward advancing and strengthening the human rights movement in the region.

Using materials from the institute, WLP developed a short film to illustrate the youth role in shaping the world we seek. The film was presented to the public during WLP’s public event on September 2015, “Reigniting the Dialogue on Human Security.”

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