MENA Leadership Academy - Regional Programme Political Dialogue and regional Integration in the Southern Mediterranean
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The transfer of professional skills to young people from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) working in non-governmental organizations makes a decisive contribution to the development of democracy in the region. As part of a two-year training program, the Regional Program South Mediterranean in collaboration with KAS Team Inlandsprogramme organized the fourth and final workshop of the MENA Leadership Academy from 12 to 18 November. The training brought together 17 young representatives of civil society organizations from the MENA region and gave them the opportunity to learn about the importance of civil society and civil society organizations for democratic societies by talking to politicians, civil society activists as well as representatives of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
The final MENA Leadership Academy workshop dealt with various topics. At the beginning, the participants got an introduction to German and European history as well as the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany and discussed current questions of German politics, such as the challenges of the current coalition negotiations. Dr. Thomas Ehlen, Head of the Political Education Forum of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Hesse, and Dr. Alexander Jehn, Director of the State Agency for Civic Education in Hesse, were able to familiarize participants with the history of conflict resolution in Europe as well as Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coping with the past) in the German context.
The participants also got insights into the work of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Germany with regard to political education and got to know aspects of the foundation’s international work in discussions with staff of KAS's headquarters in Berlin.
Furthermore, participants discussed different aspects of civil society work and established the basis for a sustainable Euro-Mediterranean network through meeting actors of German civil society. A visit to the Violence Prevention Network informed participants about the prevention and suppression of extremism by civil society organizations.
Another focal point of the program was the relationship between politics and civil society. Mr. Michael Boddenberg, Chairman of the CDU Parliamentary Group in the Hessian State Parliament, led a discussion on the interaction of civil society and politics at the state level and and Ms. Eva Majewski, Head of the Junge Gruppe (CDU/CSU Group in the German Bundestag), addressed this topic from a federal perspective. Dr. Vera Touché, CDU Bundesgeschäftsstelle, further explained the relationship between political parties and civil society.
The program ended with a workshop led by Mr. Jakob Schrot, Cosmonauts & Kings GmbH, on digital civic engagement and the impact of digitization on the tools, methods, outreach and goals of civil society organizations.
Asmaa Bassouri (Morocco)
“MENA LA was such a great experience and I'm sad it has come to an end! The training definitely changed the way I'm engaging in civil society since it provided me with an extensive range of tools I was lacking. I would fiercely recommend others to participate in the program, it will revolutionize their paradigms and understanding of CSO work and make them move into an entirely new realm of work experience.”
Alexandra Kodjabachi (Lebanon)
"MENA LA Youth are local leaders by design; they become global citizens by experience. And so, the program stretches far beyond the skills and knowledge that it empowers and nurtures. MENA LA fosters a network of networks built on a world-mindedness that is crucial to shaping 21st century politics, both locally and internationally."
Michel A. Daccache (Lebanon)
"YOUth can Do! Based on this quote, we are participating in the process of a better change within our societies based on ethics and Human Rights because all of us have the capacity and the will to do so. MENA LA was an opportunity for me to share and learn from experts and colleagues about different challenges of youth in the MENA region."
Omar Assou (Morocco)
"For me, the program was an opportunity to evaluate and strengthen my engagement and activism in my community and in my NGO, and two years of beneficial training, new friendships and a lifetime experience."
Musa Khalil (Palestine)
"MENA LA gave us the space to share our work on the regional level, meet the real decision makers and learn from their experiences. It motivated me to engage more within the civil society, by believing in myself as a reason for change not only a leader for it."