Youth-led actions in times of Covid 19


On Tuesday 27 September 2022, UPR Info received an inspiring visit by four young human rights defenders (HRDs) from Tunisia. These were the winners of the second edition of the Ena Bdit project, an initiative by the OHCHR and the Human Rights Department of the Presidency of the Government of Tunisia to promote community level human rights-based initiatives. As a reward for the social initiatives developed in their country, the winners were offered the opportunity to visit the UN headquarters in Geneva to learn more about the UN mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Tunisia will be reviewed on 8 November 2022.  In advance of the review, HRDs and civil society organizations (CSOs) can play an important role by conducting strategic advocacy. During the meeting, UPR Info shared UPR good practices on how to inform States on the human rights priorities and tips for suggesting specific and action-oriented recommendations to the UN Member States. Accompanied by one representatives of the Ministry, a member of the OHCHR and a sign language interpreter, the Ena Bdit winners shared with UPR Info the initiatives developed during the Covid 19 pandemic to support the most vulnerable, as people with disabilities, women in rural areas, and children.  

Ghassen Sabri, deaf activist, was the first one to share his work to provide social assistance to people with disabilities. The initiative consisted in providing guidance and tools to help people with disabilities to maintain their health, safety, dignity, and independence throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Introducing sign language in TV news and programs to inform on the guidelines by the Ministry of Health, offering psychological support to overcome loneliness during the pandemic and providing social aid to the most vulnerable were some of the actions put in place by this project.

Women in rural areas also became more vulnerable during the pandemic said Mounir Khlifi. Mounir works for the Ladies First Association and his initiative aimed at raising awareness on the risks of the pandemic and providing COVID-19 protection kits to women in rural areas.

Before participating to the Ena Bdit awards, Mohamed ben Salem, taught robotics and computer science to children in Ben Arous, Tunisia. During the pandemic Mohamed organized online courses for children from 6 to 15 years old in disadvantaged areas of Tunis to continue the educational programme on how to build robots or other  objects from electronic waste. As a result of his initiative the participants also developed an application to inform citizens on COVID-19 specific requirements to move around the city.  

Finally, Sabrine al Wafi, shared the work she conducts with the Association Nour Féminine in Tataouine to empower women victims of violence. Thanks to this initiative, women were placed in key sectors, such as cleaning services, for courts and police stations. By working in these public structures, women became more aware of their rights and of the institutions to which they could turn in case of violence without being afraid.

Countries: Tunisia