Workshop: Organizing for social change in Lebanon and Egypt

From 8 to 15 of June The International Institute for Nonviolent Action – NOVACT developed a workshop, with the support from Foundation for The Future, in Lebanon and Egypt. Activists and campaigners involved on social justice are using their experiences and struggles to make learning significant for everyone and improve organizations for social change.

Coordination: NOVACT- International Institute for Nonviolent Action and Foundation for the Future
Duration: eight days
Place: Egypt and Lebanon

Both sides of the Mediterranean are now involved in struggles for social justice, for real democracies where people can play an active role in the decisions affecting their lives. From Spain to Greece, from Tunis to Lebanon there is a wave of emerging movements proposing new ways of organizing, and questions like how to improve our movements to make them more effective? How can we work with others? How can we move from opposing to proposing movements? Are, among others, questions always present in those movements.

This workshop suggests thinking on concrete campaigns following a certain structure and some key elements that contribute to organize a movement and mixes theoretical concepts and reflexions with its practical use.

Activists taking part in this workshop are adapting it in ways that best serve their specific goals and circumstances, and this is not only appropriate but recommended as no one knows our reality and our needs better than us. They don’t talk about tools and methods, but they use them: learning by discussing and doing.

NOVACT has developed this training based on its practical experience and involvement in different grassroots movements and organizations coming from the Middle East, South America and Europe. With the support of Foundation For Future, an Organization based in Jordan and acting in all the MENA region promoting democracy and Human Rights, the NOVACT aims to provide a space to think about our movements, our campaigns, to share with others how we are doing and how we can improve and connect our struggles.

Campaigns participants from Egypt

  • Shoft Taharosh (I saw harassment): Campaign against sexual harassment against women and girls in Egypt, developing creative mechanisms to combat this phenomenon and works to encompass the actions, both NGOs and social initiatives, in a common struggle . Shot Taharosh has organized four protests against sexual harassment in Egypt.
  • Young Women Leadership Development Programme (YWLD), The program brings together more than 600 young women activists or potential activists who are forming in political participation. The activists are from selected governorates outside Cairo in order to strengthen their campaigns in rural areas.
  • Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP), under the program it have been organized six regional centers throughout Egypt, where a committee of young developing local actions, both in defense of social issues, including in the fight against sexual harassment. The activists are from selected governorates outside Cairo in order to reinforce the actions and campaigns in rural areas.
  • Activists: A group of activists from different organizations and initiatives related to women’s rights and political participation campaign seeks to develop a methodology adapted to the workshop.

Campaigns participants from Lebanon

  • Masha3: Campaign for the recovery of public spaces into Lebanese territory. The main objective is to work to get free access to the Lebanese coast.
  • Take back the parliament: group of Lebanese activists from different civil initiatives, organizations and social networks  that seeks to create a political alternative to the polarization represented by the Coalition March 8 and the Coalition March 14 to combat disaffection and the ineffectiveness of the Lebanese parliament in the daily affairs of its citizens.
  • Lebanese Economic Association: It is an NGO, but its members are linked to social movements through which the develop campaigns and fostering an economic culture and methodology.
  • Activists college students: a group of college activists that are organizing themselves to present alternative candidates at the student elections and see possible links with the Lebanese Economic Association.
  • Syrian Women: A group of Syrian women activists in Lebanon to address the impact of the Syrian conflict in the country are in the workshop in order to outline the ideas they have to create a campaign in support of Syrian women.

*The workshop it is funded by AECID (Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation) and is integrated into the Masar Plan