Being exposed to other cultures is not a one-way process; you should not only learn but you should also convey your culture and I was able to do that in YMV.
Nahia Kanj, Lebanon Peer Facilitator, 2019
Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.
European Commission and co-funded by the Government of Finland, the British Council and World Bank Group
Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV) was an EU-funded Programme for intercultural dialogue and debate, aimed to promote the culture of dialogue amongst youth and create a shared understanding with their peers across the Mediterranean.
YMV was designed for face-to-face delivery as a way promote intercultural dialogue and debate. Due to Covid-19, we not only changed its delivery methodology to digital, but also considered the specific needs of young people. Issues such as poor internet connectivity, access to infrastructure (laptops/tablets), data protection and privacy, mental and physical tiredness, had to be considered to adapt the programme.
The Young Mediterranean Voices programme was implemented through a year-long cycle of activities. There were 80 hours of consultation involving over 50 facilitators and team members from 8 countries across MENA, to ensure inclusion of views and country contexts. We ensured equal access through partnering with youth-led organisations.
We delivered 8 National Debate Trainings to over 120 peer facilitators (debate trainers) in over 300 hours of training. These 120 trainers cascaded debate knowledge to over 2,300 debaters between July and October 2020. We then organised 8 National Debate Forums and Policy Dialogues, debating over 40 topics related to the global Sustainable Development Goals, hosting national and international high-level speakers and decision-makers.
Digital delivery changes had a variety of positive impacts. Gender equality and an increase in female participation; digital delivery further enabled the participation of women from MENA, which in normal contexts would often rely on permission from fathers, husbands or brothers to attend. Most finalists of debate forums were female.
Greater reach; face to face activities have a limited capacity and specific geographic location. Participants could join from home and re-watch recordings and replays. Our online audience was over 20,000.
Greater empathy across geographic boundaries; young people in Morocco are now more aware of issues happening in Lebanon and their monetary/financial crisis as they participate virtually in debates about Lebanon. Youth in Palestine are more aware of gender-based violence in Egypt. National issues have greater empathy through increased contextual understanding of people from other countries.
We also reduced our carbon footprint by changing to online delivery model and reducing travel.
Youth voice and participation is among the priorities for the British Council globally and for MENA. Through YMV programme, the main objective was to empower young people from 18 to 30 years old with capacity to enhance voice and participation in MENA, as well as enhance a dialogue with Northern Mediterranean.
YMV was coordinated by the Anna Lindh Foundation, co-founded by the British Council, and developed in partnership with the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), Friends of Europe, the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, MEDAC and Soliya.
Through these collaborations, YMV contributed to UK efforts to create a safer and more stable world, through building young people’s resilience to conflict and crisis.