The current focus of our work in Tunisia is responding to the emerging gulf between young activists and the political establishment – a gap which if unaddressed threatens to undermine the country’s hard-won stability. Since mid 2015 we have held a series of activities, with the support of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, trying to support the development of leading young activists and increase the responsiveness of the political establishment to youth concerns. Activities seek to establish a space where young leaders can: identify the leading challenges confronting their peers; develop recommendations on how these challenges might be addressed; and then meet with senior politicians to debate these recommendations, thereby helping youth perspectives to inform policy discussions.
Out of this work, we have supported the development of a Tunisian NGO – Humetna Association – based in Medjez el Bab that takes a bottom up approach to establishing communication between young Tunisians and local political representatives. Humetna have already made a significant impact, and their success in raising awareness of citizenship amongst local youth has been noted by the European Endowment for Democracy. The growth of Humetna exemplifies Forward Thinking’s approach of dialogue to action; first identifying the issues through inclusive dialogue, but then supporting participants in the development of concrete actions to address challenges.
Between July 2012 and December 2014, Forward Thinking managed the Tunisian Political Pluralism Dialogue Process – TPPDP – which focused on supporting political leaders address the challenges and mistrust that risked hindering the political transition to a stable multi party democratic state. The aim was to provide a space where senior political and civil society actors from across the country’s political spectrum could regularly meet and, in doing so, prevent the growth in political polarization; support politicians in their search for sufficient consensus on potentially divisive issues; help to foster a culture of dialogue; and support the establishment of effective government that could eventually address Tunisia’s long term challenges. The TPPDP has been acknowledged by Tunisian politicians from across the political spectrum as having made a positive contribution to the country’s transition.