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A young Tunisian in Jozi at the launch of the Global Citizenship Movement

by Aya Chebbi - 30 January 2014

Aya2Since the spark of the revolution in North Africa, the world's attention has been directed towards social movements. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired movements to emerge in the Middle East particularly Yemen and Bahrain then spread across the Arab region. The power of the masses has also inspired the streets of London, Spain and Romania. The mass mobilization has eventually grown into Occupy movements around the world to reach Wall Street, Gezi Park and Brazil. These movements explain a new reality of human connections. It asserts how people can inspire each other and support each other's movements. It translates common concerns and shared struggles for democracy and sustainability of people all over the world.


This interconnection is behind the idea of “Building A Global Citizen Movement”, the first Global conference organized by the DEEEP in collaboration with CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizens Participation and GCAP, held in Johannesburg last November. In fact, during the last three years, many conferences and summits were organized to gather people around this concept. However, the DEEEP conference is different in its approach and methodology.

This conference focuses more on how we can work together to achieve these common goals based on the mutual learning from one another as civil society actors. My understanding of its concept during the preparation phase was the attempt to “exchange experiences and current challenges people are confronted within the fight for global justice”. However, during the course of the two days of the actual gathering, the networking and exchange among the 200 participants represented from grassroots movements, civil society organizations and activists was deeper in the topics discussed. We usually think of taking action from bottom up, yet this time we had to challenge ourselves to think globally and act locally.

The diversity in terms of the age, experiences and expertise of the participants with an interesting representation of youth helped to enrich the discussion. Young people, indeed, started to gain their deserved space at the global level, yet not on the national and community level. This is one of the main reasons why the global action is crucial to empower the voiceless and marginalized groups. On the other hand, during this intergenerational dialogue, there were some voices reluctant to change with reservation for traditional tools and strategies and others calling for change by challenging our visions and actions. For both cases, the disagreement and exposure of views remains a healthy conversation.

Following the use of participatory methodologies to exchange different viewpoints and narratives, there was a general ownership of the final outcome. Accordingly, the fresh spirit and engagement of the group led to the endorsement of “Johannesburg Compass: Questions and Orientations”, instead of the traditional declarations.

Walking away from the conference, the challenge we will face is the sustainability of our movement, maintaining the same motivation and commitment. We should also bare in mind that the emerging movements around the world since 2010 are spontaneous uprisings while creating a new well structured movement with defined leadership will be more diverse and complex. We definitely cannot change the world in just two days but we can plant seeds of connections to build the support system for each other.



Aya Chebbi, a young Tunisian blogger, women's advocate and peace activist.

Aya's passion for Pan-Africanism explains her dedication to inspire and unite African youth for Africa's development.



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