Mosharka: Strengthening Regional Youth Networks to Promote Human Rights and Democratic Participation in MENA
The Mosharka (“participation”) Project is a three year project (2012-2015) that builds on the vital role played by youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and helps integrate youth as more efficient and active participants in the advancement of democracy, equality and fundamental rights and freedoms in their societies.
The project helps youth, including young women, understand and use human rights approaches to promote equality, diversity, non-discrimination and access to justice for young people. Mosharka takes place in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen. Through training and action-oriented activities involving at least 200 youth per country, the Mosharka Project works towards developing a common and inclusive regional agenda for youth.
“Forum Mosharka: bilan et perspectives”. Février 2016, Tunisie
(Photo: Youssef Shoufan)
The implementation of 20 community projects has allowed the youth to have open discussions on issues such as the exclusion of vulnerable groups from social and economic life, child-marriage, intertribal conflict and sexual harassment. The projects have reached over 16,000 people since 2012.
The Mosharka project is made possible through the support of the European Union, the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) in Jordan and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
Impact of Mosharka projects, drawn from the external evaluation of John Dwyer (January 2016)
Mosharka: Strengthening Regional Youth Networks to Promote Human Rights and Democratic Participation in the Middle East and North Africa is based on three fundamental elements: gender balance, networking and collaboration, including with civil society.
• Networking has not only enabled young people to become knowledgeable and to develop their skills, but has also allowed them to build lasting relationships with the human rights community and civil society organizations both locally and internationally.
• Young people are not afraid to engage in their respective communities and the communities support their initiatives. They have the desire and the courage to approach decision-makers, or to use mechanisms that will allow them to do so.
• The results achieved through the youth initiatives go beyond strengthening the capacity of youth to develop programs focused on human rights. The open discussions of fundamental human rights issues, such as the exclusion of certain groups from social and economic life, child marriage, inter-tribal conflicts and sexual harassment, initiated by young people in the communities have led to a social dialogue which will produce results in the long-term.
(Photo: Youssef Shoufan)
Lessons Learned and Good Practices
The Compendium Youth Participating in Community Life – Implementing Human Rights Projects in the Middle East and North Africa suggests new avenues of action to pursue the engagement of youth in the region, establish mechanisms for dialogue with decision-makers as well as ensure real opportunities for change for youth and other vulnerable groups.
Promoting democratic citizenship and gender equality in the Arab World
- In Ramallah, Palestine, 48 grade 9 students from a girls’ school in a refugee camp are campaigning for a sports and cultural centre accessible to them (the existing ones are for the boys only). The girls, some of whom initially had trouble getting permission from their fathers’ to go to the meetings will soon appear on a nationally televised debate about the project.
- Over 100 women from the Tora garbage collectors’ settlement in Cairo have taken literacy classes in a project focusing on political awareness. Of these, 30 women now have ID Cards and will be voting in the next elections.
These are examples of community projects undertaken during the piloting phase of Equitas’ new toolkit Let’s Act Together for Change: A practical guide to democratic citizenship for youth and women in the Middle East and North Africa.
The toolkit will equip civic educators and government officials with knowledge and skills to better promote citizen participation, engaging citizens to become more actively involved in issues that affect them and increasing their participation by developing local citizenship projects. It is designed primarily to be used by civil society organizations working in settings, such as NGOs, community centres, and schools where activities and projects are offered or initiated with youth aged 16 to 30 and with women.
Key themes related to democratic citizenship are addressed in the toolkit: women’s rights, identity, knowledge of rights and responsibilities, participation and engagement and obstacles to democracy.
The toolkit will be translated into Arabic shortly. In May, a training session will be held in Lebanon with human rights educators and community trainers from Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia on how to use the toolkit to engage groups of youth and women in community-action projects to strengthen democratic citizenship.
This project is made possible thanks to the funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Government of Canada.
Equitas is building the capacity of human rights organizations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to engage in education programs that advance respect for human rights, democracy and good governance while reducing conflict. Equitas first began receiving significant numbers of participants at the International Human Rights Training Program from the MENA region in 2004 and began programming in the region, with the help of a local coordination office in Amman in 2006.
Equitas’ program provided space, training and guidance for the establishment of an independent Arab Network for Human Rights and Citizenship Education (ANHRE). ANHRE is now working actively to empower civil society organizations to support human rights and citizenship education in the region.
50 human rights educators (25 in Iraq) have been equipped with knowledge and skills to effectively apply participatory human rights education methodologies and promote gender equality, conflict resolution and civic participation in their work.
30 local education activities reaching over 1,000 people were implemented in Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon to empower local communities to claim their rights.
20 human rights educators from Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Iraq and Palestine trained in the use of Equitas’ Play It Fair! approach. The workshop was the result of collaboration between Equitas and Amnesty International. The toolkit has since been translated into Arabic by Amnesty International for use in the region.
In Yemen, alumni of the IHRTP and Equitas’ training activities in the region delivered the first Yemeni Human Rights Training Program. Modelled on Equitas’ Montréal program, it brought together 42 participants from 21 Yemeni governorates.
“The idea was born on the day I returned from IHRTP Canada in 2004, and was re-born every time a Yemeni alumnus came back full of passion and great memories of the IHRTP.”
Women’s Rights in Muslim Communities: A resource Guide for Human Rights Educators (PDF 464 KB)
Also available in Arabic (PDF 1.12 MB)
Strengthening Human Rights Education in Iraq: Workshop II (PDF 1.84 MB)
26-31 May 2008
Also available in Arabic (PDF 2.00 MB)
Strengthening Human Rights Education in Iraq: Workshop I (PDF 1.24 MB)
17-22 March 2007
Also available in Arabic (PDF 2.15 MB)