Equality Now and ADO+ in Tunisia
Following our regional convening in April 2019, Equality Now is continuing to work with the youth activists who participated in these meetings, to support and amplify their activism. For many of these youth participants, our convening was the first opportunity they’ve had to engage with their peers at a regional level, where previously they only had access to very local organizations and activists. Building on the success of that experience, we are facilitating the involvement of several youth groups from MENA in the Youth Mundus Festival. This brand new, environmentally conscious music and film festival initiative is designed for and by the world’s youth, and across a span of four days in Rome, Italy (November 14-17, 2019) will bring together youth activists on a diverse range of issues. On the last day of the festival, Equality Now will host a session specifically dedicated to youth and gender activism. This will be an opportunity to not only provide access for MENA youth activists to engage with their global peers and connect with an international audience and community, but will also showcase the vibrant youth activist culture in the MENA region that many are likely unaware of. (To our knowledge, the participants we have recommended are the only activists attending the festival from this region.)
In the preceding months, we will work with these groups to develop the content to be presented at the festival. In June, Equality Now staff traveled to Tunisia to spend time with ADO+, a civil society organization that develops youth activism through theater. They are collecting stories from their community to develop a performative art piece about gender discrimination in MENA to be performed at the festival. We are also hoping to engage a participant from Megaphone, an all-volunteer initiative in Lebanon that monitors the media, creating and posting short videos on social media that highlight racist and sexist statements by politicians and others in power, exposing their hypocrisy to the public. As we learned at our April convening, young people in MENA bring a strong intersectional perspective to their activism that takes into account multiple, overlapping factors of discrimination that befall women in the MENA region—factors such as religion, class, ethnicity, sexuality and bodily integrity and autonomy, and sexual orientation. We see this exemplified in the range of issues Megaphone covers, including gender equality, immigration, domestic workers, LGBTQ rights, and the environment. This intersectional approach to gender activism is essential if gender equality and inclusivity are truly to be achieved across the region.