The large generation of young people in the MENA region has a huge potential to influence change. More than 100 million young people in the region are better educated than their parents’ generation, and they share their knowledge in networks that transcend social boundaries and national borders. During the Arab Spring, young people demonstrated that they are capable of organising themselves to create positive change in their society.
However, young people still meet significant challenges when it comes to taking part in societal developments and in exercising their social, political and economic rights. DUF – The Danish Youth Council – is working to boost the influence and participation of young people in the MENA region, to promote better practices and to contribute to innovation. The work is carried out through the ‘Youth Culture and Diversity’ (YCD) project under the DAPP Youth Pool, in collaboration with five organisations in Denmark, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia.
Volunteer scouts and dialogue ambassadors reach thousands of young people in the MENA region through a youth-to-youth approach
The project builds on strong existing partnerships and is being undertaken through the project’s two main components: the Danish-Tunisian scout partnership ‘Future Leaders’ and the Danish-Arab partnership ‘Ambassadors for Dialogue’. The two components both have young volunteers as the core of their project’s activities. They conduct workshops, design and implement youth-managed projects in their local community, help to influence the strategic direction of the project and practise associative democracy in the local partner organisations. In this way, young people are not only involved as passive recipients, but as active co-creators and change agents. In 2018 and 2019 alone, the many volunteer dialogue ambassadors and scouts have trained more than 19,000 young people in active citizenship and dialogue.
The Danish-Tunisian scout co-operation ‘Future Leaders’
The YMCA Scouts in Denmark have worked with Les Scouts Tunisiens, Tunisia’s biggest civil-society organisation, since 2008. Their efforts have achieved broad recognition, and were even highlighted by the former Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid for their particular role in protecting young people from extremism and fanaticism.
The partners focus on further developing the Tunisian scout organisation as a platform for young people’s civic commitment and for educating young people as democratic citizens. Just in 2018 and 2019 alone, more than 10,000 young people in Tunisia were trained in active citizenship, advocacy and social entrepreneurship through the activities of the partnership.
After I took part in the ‘Local Young Voices’ training last March, I launched an environment campaign with other participants from the Gabès region. We are working to raise awareness about the dangers associated with the pollution in the area. (….) I managed to use the skills that I learned during the ‘Local Young Voices’ seminar in practice.Yosr Hechmi
Participant in the 'Future Leaders' seminar and initiator of the environment campaign 'GoGreen'
The Ambassadors for Dialogue
Since 2009, DUF has worked with local partner organisations to train young volunteer ‘ambassadors for dialogue’ in Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Denmark. They work on breaking down prejudices, promoting diversity and creating a cultural of dialogue among young people. The ambassadors for dialogue are known for their creative dialogue tools, which have spread through manuals and trainings to civil society organisations in the MENA region and Denmark. Over the past two years, more than 9,000 young people have been trained by the dialogue ambassadors on how to enter into a dialogue with other young people across religious, political and other dividing lines.
To start with, I used the tools I had learned as an ambassador for dialogue among family and friends, but I quickly started trying to spread dialogue and challenge prejudices on many other platforms.Mousa Abu Quood
Jordanian ambassador for dialogue and initiator of the popular radio programme “Hat men ela5er,” where guests with different opinions on a subject engage into a dialogue with each other
The development of new methods to engage more young people in communities
A recurring focus among all the partner organisations in the YCD project is to further develop, document and disseminate innovative methods to engage more people in the MENA region. This is to strengthen the inclusion of young people among local civil society organisations, institutions and stakeholders in the region, and to contribute to setting up inclusive and democratic platforms for young people’s civic commitment and cultural productivity.
A particular focus is placed on embracing and including a wide spectrum of young people, and on making positive interactions possible across ideological, economic and cultural boundaries. Through the youth-to-youth approach, the project is designed to also reach young people who find it particularly difficult to assert their influence. This includes young women, marginalised minorities and
those who live in peripheral or afflicted parts of major cities. By strengthening these young people’s opportunities and inclusion, their risk of being separated from society and radicalized is also reduced.
For more information about Future Leaders and the Dialogue Ambassadors:
You can also listen to the DAPP-podcasts:
DAPP’s podcast (in Danish) about the Danish-Tunisian scout co-operation:
and the Ambassadors for Dialogue: