Youth was the driving force of the 2011 Tunisian revolution. In fact, it was the youth which transformed local demonstrations into a full-fledged uprising against authoritarian rule. Five years later, Tunisia is the only country affected by the so called “Arab Spring” to have gone through a relatively peaceful process of democratisation.
Although assessments of the state of Tunisian democracy vary greatly, there is no doubt that the revolution opened a space in which Tunisian civil society can flourish, thereby allowing young Tunisians to become engaged citizens. Nevertheless, the Tunisian youth is still waiting for many answers to their needs and demands, some of which have not changed since 2011.
Youth unemployment continues to grow. According to a 2015 OECD report, two out of five young people are unemployed. As was the case before the revolution, employment opportunities seem to be inversely proportional to the educational level. Inequalities are widening too: young women and young Tunisians in disadvantaged regions are those who struggle the most to find a job. While employment opportunities shrink, recreational and cultural activities that would enable young Tunisian to engage themselves positively and to unleash their creativity are often lacking.
The low youth turnout in the 2014 presidential election hints at a worrying disillusion with the country’s political life among the youth. The stagnation in the situation of the Tunisian youth risks leading to their detachment from an active public life. In turn, a civil society without youth participation has no future.
Economic marginalisation, lack of cultural activities, and alienation from political life, can push young Tunisians into crime, violence, and drug-use; and, at times, into the hands of terrorist organisations. In fact, these are among the main conditions cited to explain the growing fertility of the Tunisian ground for terrorist recruitment.
If the Jasmine revolution opened some space for youth to make their voices heard, then it was only the first step in a long process that is far from finished. The Tunisian youth still struggles to be actively involved in the making of decisions that affect them and to exploit possibilities to become true agents of change.
Founded in 2013 by a group of young activists between 16 and 24, WeYouth is an organisation entirely run by youth, for youth. Starting from the belief that the basis of a brighter Tunisian future lies among the youth, the organisation works to unlock such potential by promoting active citizenship among young people.
With the long-term mission to improve the situation of Tunisian youth, WeYouth aims to:
- Provide youth with the necessary skills to bring about positive change;
- Share resources on opportunities concerning exchange programmes, workshops, international and national conferences, jobs and grants;
- Function as a national youth umbrella organisation to strengthen collaboration among youth organisations;
- Advocate in the field of development, human rights, and socio-cultural issues and promote youth participation in such issues.
To do so, WeYouth carries out a wide range of projects and activities in the field of civic education, economic empowerment and youth-led policies; from youth dialogues and training workshops to advocacy campaigns. In the words of a member of the organisation, “Tunisian youths have ideas that change the world, but they lack the resources and the skills to implement them” – that’s the gap that WeYouth aims to fill.
Thraedable & WeYouth
In October 2016, Thraedable joined WeYouth’s mission in its own way. We organised art workshops to give voice to the Tunisian youth through art. The workshops revolved around images of the past and future, tradition and progress in Tunisia. Participants were encouraged to send a message to the world through calligraphy (which in the form of “calligraffiti” becomes a perfect example of a harmonious mix between traditional culture and youthful expression).
In the same spirit, the beautiful creations that resulted from the workshop were exhibited in an historical cultural café in the Medina of Sfax. Next to our colourful drawings, the old tiles of the café hosted the transcript of a story that was produced through a collective storytelling activity held at the end of each workshop: a glimpse into the everyday life of Tunisia’s youth.
See the photos here!
Where does my money go?
The funds raised through the sale of the “WeYouth” line will help the realisation of an innovative project designed by WeYouth: the Youth Innovation Hub, an incubator for student committees within high-schools.
The project departs from the observation that young Tunisians often lack the possibility to turn ideas into concrete projects that can have a positive impact on their communities. In turn, this can lead to frustration and indifference, which risks affecting students for years to come. High-school clubs and committees can give them the space to make their ideas tangible in collaboration with one another, so that they can start from an early age to make a difference in their surrounding environment.
To empower them to do so, WeYouth’s Youth Innovation Hub will equip students with the skills and mentality necessary to bring about positive change. This will be done through a six-month capacity building training cycle focused on project management, social entrepreneurship and sustainable development, to be rounded off with the implementation of an action plan for a local community project in each high school involved. The process will be supported through the creation of an e-learning platform to strengthen learning experiences, collaboration and knowledge sharing. The costs that Thraedable aims to contribute to include course manuals (estimated at 10€ per unit, for the students of six high schools involved in the projects) and the creation of the online platform. Turning high-schoolers into active citizens today, means enabling a truly functioning democracy tomorrow.