Young Leader Perspective: Achraf Aouadi
Young persons can be powerful change agents in their communities. Disseminating information on the electoral cycle, volunteering in voter registration drives, observing elections to ensure rights are respected, and forming watchdog organizations are some of the many ways youths around the world are making a difference.
Below is a Q&A with Achraf Aouadi from Tunis, Tunisia.
Please tell us about your work around the latest election.
In the previous elections I was part of the project coordination team. We focused not only on domestic observation, but also on the education side of elections. We launched the “GO VOTE” awareness campaign. This included the “Rap-the-Vote” tour – a hip hop concert that targeted youth and encouraged them to register for elections. There was also an SMS campaign, which sent text messages to explain Election Day procedures to voters, and a promotional video broadcast on three channels in prime time three days before elections.
For domestic observation, as members of I Watch - a youth-based organization - we we were part of the OFIYA network of 115 local civil society organizations. We deployed around 700 observers out of the 1,500 observers deployed by the coalition.
What motivates you to participate in your country’s democratic process?
Tunisia was the first country in the Arab Spring. Succeeding in the transition was not only for us Tunisians, but for all Arabs. We must succeed to tell all Arabs that democracy can be reached in the Arab world. It is not a myth, as so many are pretending. So elections, for me, are a direct tool to boost democratic change in my nation.
What do youth bring to the table when it comes to encouraging greater citizen participation?
Youth give without expecting anything in return. They bring fresh blood, take risks and look for new approaches. They bring more focus on social media that older people may disregard.
How can we all help foster greater youth involvement?
What we need as youth is expertise. IFES is already helping us, but we still have work to do and things to learn. IFES, as an international organization, can share with us best practices from all over the world and put us in touch with other young people like us who have the same goals.
How has IFES helped you in your work?
IFES is helping us get redy for the coming elections. Thanks to the training we had from IFES, we will be the first Tunisian organization to observe campaign finance.