Aya Chebbi is an award-winning Pan-African activist and feminist. In November 2018, she was appointed by H.E Moussa Faki (Chairperson of African Union Commission) as the first African Union Special Envoy on Youth. Interestingly, this made her the youngest diplomat in the chairperson’s cabinet as well as the youngest senior official in the history of the African Union.
Aya Chebbi Background
She was born in Dahmani in 1988. Chebbi holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Tunis El Manar. Also, she obtained a Master’s degree in African Studies with Distinction from SOAS University of London.
In addition to that, in 2012, Aya was a Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University. Subsequently, in 2015, she was Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholar for her MA in African Studies at SOAS, University of London.
Aya has lived and studied in different countries including Tunisia, Kenya, the USA, and the UK. Currently, she resides in Tunis, Tunisia.
Aya Chebbi Career
Chebbi started as a political blogger. But, had her big break during 2010/2011 Tunisia’s revolution. In her writings, she stood as a voice for democracy and this made her attract international recognition.
Thereafter, Chebbi’s political blogs at Proudly Tunisian got featured on several publications including OpenDemocracy, Al-Jazeera, D+C for Development and Cooperation among others.
Since then, Chebbi has been traveling across the African continent to support and train thousands of social movement leaders and activists on mobilization, blogging, leadership, and non-violence. She continues to travel the world as a scholar, mentor, speaker, and activist.
In 2011, Aya worked at the refugee camps during the Libyan revolution, at Bureau de Cooperation Tunisie-Denmark of the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry on bilateral cooperation in Tunis. Thereafter, in 2012, she also worked with the Carter Center monitoring 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections, in Tanta.
More about Aya Chebbi Career
In March 2015, she was a youth speaker at the UN Women’s 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The audience was about 2000 including celebrities, world leaders and activists.
Aya was also appointed as an emissary of Tunisian youth during the 32nd summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
On 1st November 2018, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat (the chairperson of the African Union Commission) appointed Aya Chebbi as the first African Union Special Envoy on Youth. It’s a two-year mandate to serve as a representative and advocate for the voices and interests of African youths.
Among others, Chebbi also works with AU organs, governments, civil societies, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and academia to strengthen the position of youths in Africa and beyond. Chebbi began her Youth Envoy mission by launching the 2019/2020 Action Plan. The plan contains four Models of Action; Innovation, Advocacy, Intergenerational & Policy, and Communication.
Impressively, Aya Chebbi is at the forefront of the AU campaign on “Silencing The Guns” by 2020.
Aya Chebbi Impact at World Peace Initiative Foundation
Apart from being an envoy on youth, Aya Chebbi is also an advocate for peace. Chebbi is the Programs Director for Africa and the Middle East and later the Director of Strategic Planning and Development at World Peace Initiative Foundation.
Under this foundation, Aya founded four projects: Amani Fellowship, Amandla Fellowship, Heya Fellowship for Women and MENA Salam Fellowship where she organized and directed about 15 retreats that trained over 300 young people from 40 countries to become peace agents.
In addition, Chebbi introduced mindfulness practice and non-violent communication to over 5000 people in 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Some of these countries include Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, and Jordan.
As a result of these great works, she was appointed as Executive Director for Peace Revolution Summit.
Aya Chebbi Initiatives
The Voice of Women Initiative (VOW-I)
In 2013, Chebbi co-founded VOW-I with her feminist friends and bloggers; Konda Delphine from Cameroon and Rose Wachuka from Kenya. Basically, the initiative focuses on empowering women through advocacy and access to the digital space.
Practically, VOW-I trains correspondents in various cities around the world to document the stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. Currently, the platform has been able to publish about 200 stories, trained 35 correspondents and carried out field projects on health, peace and the safety of women.
Kenya’s Conscious Transformation
This is a documentary produced by Aya as part of the Africa Inspire Project. Africa Inspire Project is a series of short and long documentaries showcasing a different and positive narrative of Africa’s story. In this documentary, she highlighted the role of youth and women in social change.
Afrika Youth Movement (AYM)
AYM is one of the largest Pan-African youth-led movement founded by Chebbi in 2012 as a Facebook group. The group was, however, established in 2015. The aim of the group is to take the agenda of African youth from the margins of society into the center of regional and international discourse.
AYM strives to create a continent that respects the rights of all its citizens and achieves peace, equality, and social justice. Currently, the movement has grown from a Facebook group of 500 followers to more than 10,000 grassroots activists from 40 African countries.
Afresist is a youth leadership program that documents youth work in Africa. Aya Chebbi began this project in 2011 to document youth movements and youth work for social justice taking place on the African continent.
Aya uses this initiative to coach the next generation of change-makers. The objectives of Y-Phem is divided into three:
- Offer an opportunity for mentees to learn and dream, to enhance their self-esteem, confidence, revisit their life values and purpose.
- Support youth especially girls in their career development and professional commitment.
- Enhance the mentee’s academic performance, educational, social, behavioural and personal growth.
Boards where Aya Chebbi Serves
- Serves on the Board of Directors of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation Youngest councilor at the World Refugee Council
- Youngest commissioner at Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct.
- American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS) Board
- Serves on the Board of International Steering Group of UNOY Peacebuilders
- Advisory Committee of FRIDA Young Feminist Fund.
Aya Chebbi’s Publications
- Euronews: The G7 should deliver progress, not promises, on gender equality.
- Jeune Afrique: il n’y aura pas de revolution durable sans feminisme
- Der TagessPiegel: Was wir Afikanerinnen uns vom dem Treffen erhoffen
- Africa. Com: Don’t you Dare Leave us Behind
- OGP: Empowering the African Youth through Education
- CNBC Africa: Op-Ed: World Poverty Day: An opportunity to reimagine the future of African youth
- All Africa: Africa: World Poverty Day – An Opportunity to Reimagine the Future of African Youth
- UNIDO, Making it Magazine A Generation Of Change-Makers
- Daily Maverick Every one of us must act to combat gender-based violence
- Metro Youth leaders as positive agents of change
- Addis Standard OP-ED: Assuring Women, Young girls a life free from violence should be everyone’s business.
Aya Chebbi Awards and Recognition
- Named one of 25 Africa’s Most Outstanding Young Women Leaders, Moremi Institute, 2013
- The Huffington Post’s List of Young Women from Around the World, 2016
- Inspirational Woman of the Year by Women4Africa Awards, 2016
- Named among 100 Most Influential Young Africans in the World, 2016
- List of Formidable Women Leading Change, YouthHub Africa, 2016
- Recipient of 2018 Global Leaders Fellowship for New and Emerging Nonprofit Executives, 2017
- UNAOC Fellowship of United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, 2017
- Prestigious Bellagio Policy Fellow Residency Award, The Rockefeller Foundation, 2017
- Pan-African Humanitarian Award by Pahawards, 2017
- Apolitical World’s 100 Most Influential Young People in Government, 2018
- Young Talent of the year Award, UNLEASH Festival, 2018
- One Young World Ambassador, 2018
- UN SDG Action Awards Finalist, 2018
- Selected as one of Top 40 Knowledge Pool candidates at the 47th St. Gallen Symposium
- Appeared on the Inaugural List of 100 Most Influential African Women, 2019
- Most Influential People of African Descent in Politics & Governance, 2019
- Gates Foundation Campaign Award, 2019
- Appeared on top lists of people to watch; at the Huffington
- 100 under 40 Most Influential Arabs by ArabianBusiness
- Most Influential Africans list by African Youth Award
Aya Chebbi Quote
“We have our own voices. We just need you to listen.”
“As young people, you do not need permission to participate. You must occupy your space because there is no governance without citizen engagement and youth-led accountability.”
“Your power is your radical self. Find it.”
“We cannot shrink the future of Africa in accepting its reality.”
“We clearly live in an era where we have the most unequal societies of all time. The rich are becoming richer, the poor are becoming poorer.”
“When injustice is perceived, young people look upon violent groups as legitimate fighters, not perpetrators of violence.”
“Africa has the wealth to invest and the clearest path to reducing inequality is investing in African youth, our most important asset.”
“It is my duty to make sure that young people hold governments accountable for the implementation of the frameworks they signed up for”
“I will always push for progressive, more inclusive and more empowered positions for young people across Africa.”
Business Lessons From the Life of Aya Chebbi
1. Be The Change You Want To See
Obviously, Aya Chebbi believes in youth participation in leadership and it is evident in all her actions from a tender age. Today, she holds key leadership roles all over the world.
Business is about finding a problem and solving it. Hence, if there’s a product or service you will love to enjoy but it’s not available, then take the bold step to create it.
2. Your Opinion Matters
Indeed, Aya has proven to be a voice in her generation at a time when others kept quiet. More often than not, your voice can bring about the change you want to see. So, rather than keeping quiet about how things are going wrong, it is best to speak up to enforce the change you desire.
Bringing it to business, there are unfavorable laws and policies affecting small businesses. And, if business owners refuse to speak boldly about it, the policies will only get worse.
3. Age Is Just A Number
You’ve heard this time and time again. I cannot emphasize it enough that age is just a number. There’s no limit to what you can achieve regardless of age, race or background.
Therefore, starting your own business does not have to wait until you are forty or fifty. Nowadays, the younger generations are at the helm of affairs when it comes to running successful businesses.
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