Shaping a National Youth Council in Tunisia

From 4 to 6 March 2016, NET–MED Youth and several youth organizations were gathered in Tunis in order to engage a common reflection on the implementation of a National Youth Council.

Within a national context characterized by a search for new frameworks and models of concertation strengthening the emerging democracy in Tunisia, NET MED Youth, in collaboration with a number of youth organizations, supports the setting up of a National Youth Council. This consultation mechanism aims to become, in the future, an appropriate framework through witch youth contribute to analyze public policies, elaborate strategies and formulate recommendations related to youth main issues. Aly Bouzwida, a member of the organization Jamaity, specifies that: “a youth dynamic is necessary to overcome the lack of a youth public policy in Tunisia and to accompany the change and the democratic transition”.

“Since “the revolution” everyone speaks about youth and on the behalf of youth, meanwhile, young people are not participating in the dialogue. An initiative such as the Youth Council can be an efficient alternative allowing the increase of youth participation in the decision making process… I would even say allowing youth to make their voices heard suddenly and resoundingly” explains Inès Agrebi a member of AISSEC. She insists on the importance of “consolidating the feeling of belonging among youth and promoting awareness about growing issues and challenges they encounter”.

This project is the result of the reflection and the work of a coalition of young people that aims to engage a dialogue and a constructive collaboration with decision makers, at a moment when the government is setting-up a dialogue with youth and starting a reflection about a strategy for youth.

“The revolution allowed the creation of a number of NGOs and the initiation of several youth initiatives that are conducting a great, dynamic and creative work and that are, with low resources, impacting youth in Tunisia more than any public institution. However, because of the lack of coordination, concertation, support, experience and because of the absence of a credible vis-à-vis facing the public authorities, this community of NGOs notes sometimes that the impact of their efforts is being minimized. The project of a National Youth Council represents an obvious answer to these problems.” explains Inès Labidi, a member of the organization Tun’ACT. According to her, when young people get engaged in civil society, they don’t do this in order to get a personal gain or to circumvent the system. They are involving with the objective of improving their environment. “We need to fight stereotypes on Tunisian youth. Young Tunisians are graduates, motivated, seeking for knowledge, open minded, open to dialogue, polyglot and ready to make great efforts and sacrifices”

The brainstorming workshop has laid the groundwork of the future National Youth Council. It gathered over twenty young woman and men in order to define, collectively, the key elements of the project and to reach an agreement on a roadmap setting out the next steps and priorities. To orient participants, some great experts and experienced men and woman supported the facilitators of the workshop, Mr Fethi Touzri and Mr Saber Louhichi.

Nothing like a practical experience! Both Mrs. Anne Hitzegarad and Mr. Anas Missaoui conducted projects promoting youth local participation within their respective organizations, GIZ-Tunisia and Search for common ground. They highlighted the fact that decision makers are more and more open to the idea of youth involvement and participation even if they don’t consider it, yet, as a priority.

Experts shared their methodology, observations and recommendations for a National Youth Council. Remaining flexible, ensuring a good representation of young people, adopting a strategy of visibility and efficient communication, analyzing the economic, political and social situation or focusing on direct participation mechanisms, were only some of the experts wise advices.
Interactive exercises have allowed young people to agree on the definition of key concepts on the legal framework of the future Council, a strategy of communication and visibility and a logical framework. Finally, they agreed on the Governance after having discussed axes related to the project’s organization.

After three days of reflection and sharing, young people who focused through working groups on the operational modalities of the future Council (membership, organizational structure and internal communication) ratified a "consensus document" identifying the key elements on which they agreed. "The process was truly participatory and ownership effort was remarkable," says one of the facilitators.

A significant progress has been realized, but real work is just beginning. Participants are, now, committed to achieve an ambitious agenda.

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.