Monday, May 4, 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
12:25 PM No comments
The 59th session of the Commission
on the Status Of Women (CSW)
in New York City
When I first received the invitation from UN Women to speak at the commemorative event of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, I was a bit surprised. Surprised, not only because it’s me who was identified from the million young voices around the world but also because UN Women has finally taken this big step to provide such a crucial space for a young voice in this high level public event.
I’ve already read couple of days before receiving the email that this celebrity event was expecting over 2000 people with Heads of State, the Secretary General of the United Nations, The Executive Director of UN Women, senior political leaders, eminent gender equality advocates, dignitaries, musicians, artists…
I opened the invitation letter with a lot of curiosity to know why me? And what is expected from me? Between opening the email and opening the invitation letter, I thought this would be another huge event where young voices are used to be the face that the UN celebrates to support their agenda, no more, no less. I also thought maybe I am nominated and chosen because I come from the region where recently people started to matter.
I was addressed as a distinguished women’s advocate and peace activist, just the way I identify myself but without feeling “distinguished”, because I believe I am doing the work with way more distinguished changemakers around the world, with whom I am inspired everyday to continue changing the reality of young women, our reality.
The invitation listed that I am “a great voice that will be raised to break the chains of gender-based discrimination, stereotypes and violence. Empowering women is empowering humanity!” the letter continues “We would be honored if you would join us at this historic event and advocate for a world without gender wage gaps and unequal opportunities, a world without low representation of women in leadership in the private sector and in public office, a world without child marriage, violence and other violations of rights of women and girls”.
It all sounded perfect, that’s the world we all want, but not really convincing of why my voice would be important? Why I shall fly from Tunisia all the way to New York when I have a lot of work on my plate already during March?
It is until I read… “Given the relevance of Tunisia as a relatively successful new democracy among the countries of the Arab Spring, yours is an important voice from the region. Yours will be the voice of the new generation of feminists”, … then, I actually decided, YES I have to be there. I have to tell them it’s not the “Arab Spring” but the “Revolution of Dignity”, I have to tell them we are not “new” feminists, we are a continuation of great feminists and history of struggles and victories of my region, and that we are not “relatively successful new democracy” but we have already had “milestones in democracy, freedom and dignity”.
The UN Women invitation has written great part of my talk already. This happens to me every time I feel challenged with these institutions. In order to accept such invitations, I have to make sure I am actually needed in New York at the UN stage more than where I was supposed to be at that moment.
I was given 3 to 4 minutes to speak; I couldn’t ask for more when I knew that Hillary Clinton has equal time to speak herself. I received the program and then realized I am speaking after Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Hillary Clinton, Bill de Blasio, Melinda Gates, Farhan Akhtar, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and before Patricia Arquette and other public figures.
And it was my time on stage,
Many people would tell you a lot of compliments following your talk when it’s powerful and when the words are chosen perfectly for tweets. But what really made me proud at the end of the event is that many people were telling me “I appreciate what you said” which means it was powerful but truthful. I didn’t want to deliver of perfect speech that says, “women’s rights are human rights” just like what Hillary Clinton said in 1995 and repeated in 2015. I want to say next year instead of “our stories shall not go unrecognized” that “our stories ARE now recognized”. We are a generation of no perfect wordings but rebellions with critiques, a generation that doesn’t use simple data in a complicated language or address simple people with complicated titles.
My highlight of the event was neither entering the pressroom with 10 cameras taking pictures of me while walking on the carpet, nor actually meeting all these celebrities and speaking on the same stage. My highlight was meeting the amazing Maysoon Zayid, on my way to the restroom. If you don’t know her yet you can’t miss watching her TedTalk I got 99 problems…palsy is just one. I was so happy to see her and started speaking in Arabic and she immediately started telling jokes with her lovely humor.
She has been on the stage few minutes after my speech and she said what made the whole audience stand “don’t leave women with disabilities behind”. While we exchanged contacts at the end of the event, she told me “I am already felling so proud of the lady I just met few minutes ago in the restroom”. Likewise, I was feeling so proud of her with the different image she presents for Arab Muslims and people with disabilities.
Unlike some of the events where I leave very frustrated from the slow process of the UN, perfect program for the perfect audience, and unsatisfying outcomes, this was one where my voice was heard and hopefully carried many of the concerns of my generation.
Following my return from New York, it has been very humbling to receive all the encouragement and support, endless requests for interviews and to be listed among the 12 best quotes of the event along side with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Hilary Clinton. However, the reward of this event was really to break the headline and change the narrative from the "Arab Spring" to "the Revolution of Dignity" at Uplift Connect, New Story Hub and Youth Post.
Aya Chebbi, April 2015
Saturday, April 11, 2015
6:26 AM No comments
On March 18, Tunisia witnessed an attack on the Bardo Museum in the heart of the capital city, Tunis, next door to the Parliament.
Suddenly, international media was disseminating misinformed news about the situation in Tunisia, promoting an image of “terrorism” and “Jihadism” taking over the country, “destroying its economy”, and “threating its democracy”. It is actually not the attack that will affect our economy and tourism but it's the narrative mainstream media propagates at all times.
THE HEADLINES have been as dramatic as “In Tunisia, terror attack undercuts Arab Spring's best prospect”, or “Travelers warned of risks as Tunisia reels from attack”, ignoring that we have had at least 20,000 foreign visitors entering the country after the Bardo attack, and as lame and wrongful as “Tunisian town near 'Star Wars' backdrop now features in battle against ISIS”, ignoring that Les Dunes Electroniques, one of Tunisia's biggest musical festivals have taken place on the set of Star Wars just a few weeks ago, on February 21 when over 10,000 people attended.
There is another story that has to be told not only by us, Tunisians, who obviously would encourage people to visit our homeland, but also through the testimonies of foreign visitors who have themselves experienced the beauty, safety, and hospitality of Tunisia.
I have interviewed visitors from Europe, Africa and America following the Bardo Attack. They have all stressed the difference of the narrative the media represents for Tunisia and what is actually on the ground:
From Belgium, Hilario Palomeque said: “The news were putting over and over the videos of the attacks and I decided actually to avoid watching that because it creates an image of Tunisia which is not real.” He added, “I came in solidarity…as a response to violence it’s important to maintain this presence because it’s the best answer to violence.”
FROM BRAZIL, Janaina Plessmann, who arrived just a day before the attack happened, said: “It’s my first time in Tunisia. I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity of meeting all the amazing Tunisian people I was meeting on that day. I was not really feeling anything related to any danger…or any fear even on that day.” She continued: “I was trying to share with people that I was feeling very secure and safe here, the country and the people are amazing… and what happened has nothing to do with any kind of nationality or religion...”
At the end Janaina made a request: “Please come and visit this very beautiful country to enjoy, I’m sure you will be surprised!”
Edna Bonhomme from New York has been in Tunisia for the past two months, she said: “Tunisia for me has been a very warm open, and compassionate space. People have been very willing to take me to their homes to visit small towns, places like le Kef and Kasserine.” As a black woman she said she would not have “that kind of hospitality in small towns in the United States where I’m from.” Edna admires Tunisia and she encourages everybody to visit: “I personally learnt a lot by being here.”
From NIGERIA, Adebayo Waifi Gbenro came despite the attack to show African solidarity, he said: “to tell everyone in the world that we are not terrorists… we’re not bad people and all we need to do is for them to get a story from our own perspective, not a foreign perspective…”
These are a few testimonies among over 20,000 visitors who entered Tunisia after the Bardo Attack. That’s by itself a strong message of the world’s solidarity and Tunisia’s firm stand against all forms of violence.
#Visit_Tunisia #IloveTunisia #ProudlyTunisia #SomeoneTellCNN
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
5:37 PM No comments
My profile by Eric Reidy, as part of a series that started at the International Women Day.
Sitting under a breezy tent on the second day of the 2015 World Social Forum, which took place in Tunis from 24 to 28 March, Aya Chebbi shifted in her seat with an animated intensity. The 26-year-old Tunisian activist and blogger was listening to four middle-aged panelists discuss the necessity for NGOs and social movements to listen to marginalized voices to build their goals around people’s real needs. Read More
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
8:20 AM No comments
April 2015- Middle East Eye
My profile by Eric Reidy, as part of a series that started at the International Women Day.
Aya Chebbi: From Tunisia’s revolution to global activist . Sitting under a breezy tent on the second day of the 2015 World Social Forum, which took place in Tunis from 24 to 28 March, Aya Chebbi shifted in her seat with an animated intensity. The 26-year-old Tunisian activist and blogger was listening to four middle-aged panelists discuss the necessity for NGOs and social movements to listen to marginalized voices to build their goals around people’s real needs. Read More
April 2015- Super Girl of the Month by Girl Pride Circle
Aya's story is that of a bold and daring super girl, with a rare zeal for undiluted activism. Read More.
Our warm congratulation to you for every steps that you take towards positive changes in the society, we really know that it is hard and challenging but you never tired. We the youth are proud of you and wish you all the best in whatever way you go and initiatives you take. Read More
March 2015- Deutsche Welle
My Profile at DW
Aya is deeply concerned about the kind of world today’s children and young people will face in the future, and about strengthening the democratic structures in her homeland. Aya is “Proudly Tunisian” – as she calls her blog. Read More
December 2013- Taking on the Giant
My profile as One of Tunisia’s Most Promising Female Leaders
Her blog has managed to get tens of thousands of visitors from around the world. Aya confesses that her goal was never to have a successful blog, but one that engages people. Read More
December 2014- African Role Model by Ignite the Youth
My Profile as the African Role Model
What immediately stands out about Aya is her undeniable loyalty to her nation - The Republic of Tunisia. This young African beats her chest for Tunisia, cries for Tunisia and would undoubtedly bleed for Tunisia! Her national patriotism is so immense, it beams from within her in a manner that says "I have no shame in who I am and where I come from!" Indeed, she is unashamed and publicly announces that she is "Proudly Tunisian" Read More
January 2014- AfroElle Magazine
Featured on the Magazine Rebirth Issue about New Generation Leaders
November 2013- Daily Mavrick
My profile interview as part of the series on the Voices of Young Africans by Khadija Patel
As part of a new Daily Maverick series profiling young, African leaders, we sat down with Aya Chebbi, a Tunisian blogger and activist. She is the kind of young person that inspires hope in humanity, a 'doer', an active participant in the society she has grown up in. And still she is warm, insightful, humble. Just don’t use the phrase “Arab Spring” around her. Read More
February 2013 - ELLE Belgique Magazine
Tunisie, Ou Vont Les Femmes?
Céline Gautier interviewed me for the Belgian Magazine ELLE Belgique. It is a women magazine but mainly featuring pop culture, life & love, hair & beauty, accessories, shops etc... The interview was about women's rights in Tunisia and the ruling Islamic party Ennahda. Celine also captured my attention with the same comment as Fiona : " I'll make you some questions in order for me to understand better what's happening now in Tunisia regarding women's rights. As the Europeans have a lot of misinformation, I'll ask you to give us some facts and not only feelings or thoughts"
December 2012- Madison Magazine
After the Revolution Tales
Fiona MacDonald wrote this article on the Australian Magazine Madison about stories of women in the Arab Uprising what she called "After the Revolution". She interviewed women from Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia including myself. Fiona said when she first contacted me and explained the message behind her article: " women have played a crucial role in the revolutions but many Australians don’t know much about what’s been happening (other than what they see on the news) and how empowered the Arab women are". I am proud of her final piece which had I guess a positive reaction worldwide and I hope also in Australia.
The interview was also published at the Intentious
September 2012- Inspirational Friday
My Profile as the Hyper Volunteer
She is 25 but don’t be fooled by her youth. Aya Chebbi is a serial traveller, blogger, and volunteer, she started her own NGO, while pursuing several academic careers (dropping out some, picking up others). Oh, and she has one or two (more likely twenty) ideas that she would like to turn into organisations and projects to help make her country and the world a better place. Want more? She is also a very enthusiastic talker with a bright personality and a huge smile. Her enthusiasm is hard to resist. Let the Aya wave take you through revolutionary times and global adventures. Read More
بسمي وبسم عائلتي- عائلة المرحوم محمد الناصر الشابي بالدهماني -هذا تكذيب لكل ما نشر في وسائل الإعلام عن حادثة مستشفى جهوي بالكاف لوفاة ...
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