Written by a local researcher from UNOY member Together We Build It!
It’s in our hands to take a positive role in this world, and it was in my hands to show the inspiring role that Libyan youth are playing in their communities.
Early 2018, UNOY Peacebuilders launched a joint research between Libya, Afghanistan, Colombia and Sierra Leone, shedding light at the full half of the cup, looking at the positive impact young people are making in conflict and post conflict countries. I was privileged to be one of the two Libyan local researchers on ground, not expecting that I would grow this much during this journey. I found myself with each person I spoke to and each finding that I collected.
ART OUT, a project using art in public spaces in Tripoli
It’s always important to find a motive in life, a purpose to do the things you love, a cause that you must fight for. That in itself, however, can be quite dreamy in a conflict zone. Nonetheless, the young people I encountered during my civic engagement were very far from giving up at any time soon, not even when danger was staring straight in their faces. If there was one thing they taught me, it was to never lose my enthusiasm for civil work. The research was mainly conducted in Tripoli and Benghazi, some parts were relocated to Tunisia. The relocation of some trainings and workshops outside the country was due to the fact that from there it was easier to get in touch with respondents from the far West and East of Libya. However, the circumstances in Tripoli were sometimes very difficult for me: I faced issues such as extended power cuts, blackouts, restriction of movements, limitation of resources, airport closing, and other incidents one cannot begin to list when living in a chaotic country. All these issues are commonly faced and complained about by all citizens, not to mention civil activists. During the interviews I came in contact with many peacebuilders who were older and more experienced than me. When speaking to them about their work I could still feel the glow in their eyes and the differences they were able to accomplish in the community. I knew that there is still hope.
The people I have targeted for the research were very diverse in gender, age, background, specialization and their concentration in civic engagement. They were also diverse in their experience, showing the different stages Libyan activists are at. This demonstrated the strength of the civil work and the expansion of young people’s interest and motivation to help each other. Personal motivation and interest was also one of the main findings of the collected data and is one of the most important learnings to me.
Iconic Landmarks of Libya by Ziad Alhemdi, Libyan artist, civic activist and founder of the project “Ma’alem Libiyya”
It has been found that Libyan youth has the full capacity to sustain peace by trying to mitigate some of the issues the country is going through. A sign for active citizenship is when you give back to your county, try to improve its situation and not just stand still, right? The research I did indeed prove this to a certain extent: In many interviews when respondents were asked about the challenges and barriers they faced, they would mention how the economic situation is going downhill, making the living situation very difficult. This directly results in the creation of social entrepreneurship projects by many young people, since these social enterprises benefit the community and provide cash to the working individuals. We found art exhibits addressing certain cultural barriers as a way to rebel social norms, young men trying to use technology as tool to empower young generations, and young women standing up for their rights trying to find their way up the ladder.
Super Nsaween Campaign, by Together We Build it!
I’m member of the Together We Build It! organization in Libya, working on women and youth empowerment, and advocating for their relevant role in the peacemaking process by promoting the UN Security Council Resolutions 2250 and 1325 as reference framework. A great deal of our work focuses on conducting researches and consultations on the national level. We believe that in order to deliver an accurate advocacy voice, inclusion and evidence based data are essential components of our mission. Even though I was in a way involved in some previous research processes, up until the research with UNOY Peacebuilders I had never taken a leadership role and conducted the interviews by myself. This is why I am feeling quite humbled that my organization believed in me and granted me this opportunity! Nevertheless, after developing emotional attachment to this research – not to mention the competences I gained – I’m ready to go down this path again and am enthusiastic to take more leadership positions in the future!
You might be interested to check this too- Beyond Dividing Lines