At RNW Media, we believe in a world in which young people in all their diversity confidently claim their rights, assume their place in society and drive social change. The online community of Manasati30 in Yemen does just that! It offers a space where young people in all their diversity can come together to voice their opinions and share their stories. The Manasati30 team consists of changemakers coming from all regions of the country (North and South). Both online activities and offline events ensure that young people’s voices are heard by mainstream media and other influential actors and their agendas are gradually being represented in policy and social changes.
Ruba Mimi, former Regional Manager of this project at RNW Media tells us about her work: “As a regional manager my role began at a very early stage of the project’s development. Together with UNESCO, I worked on the ideation phase of this project and the development of the proposal. The ideation phase meant analysing the needs of young people in Yemen, determining the success factors, and getting clear the aspirations for building an impactful project.”
In order to gain truthful insights in the needs of young people in Yemen, Manasati30 carries out regular surveys so young people can interact directly and express their views on socio-political issues. They can give their views anonymously and are able to speak out without fear of negative consequences. The project is a safe space for views to be aired in a cultural context where that is far from the norm.
Ruba: “My role continued in every next step of the project, from its set-up, following up on implementation, reporting and evaluation and ensuring a high-quality delivery throughout the phases. Due to my media background, in some cases I even played a role in reviewing video scripts. I also took part in developing the content strategy which was led by a team of people working on programmes and people with a digital background at RNW Media. Stakeholder management was also something major in my role, especially with our main partner UNESCO, and through them with other important parties such as OSESGY. I was the linking pin between the different teams at RNW Media, UNESCO, and the Manasati30 team in Yemen.”
Together and with the support of donors, these three parties developed several successful projects, campaigns and trainings. An example is their collaboration on an EU-funded project aimed at creating economic opportunities for young Yemenis for which diverse multi-media content was developed, to raise awareness about cultural heritage. Culture is a theme that can successfully engage young people from different regions and bridge the divides between them. With the support of popular Yemeni vlogger Somaya Jamal as a host, five-episode video series were created, illustrating the cultural heritage of the country through a personal journey. These series, titled Turathna, ‘Our Heritage’ have been viewed around 1.1 million times on social media and attracted tens of thousands of comments, shares and likes from viewers. A number of local Yemeni TV channels have also rebroadcast them, reaching the many Yemenis who are not online.
In September 2021, UNESCO and RNW Media’s Manasati30 platform launched a campaign directed to young people calling for a ceasefire throughout Yemen. The campaign was part of a project funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, ‘Empowering Yemeni youth towards peace: ensuring access to information and participation’. Under the hashtag #EnoughWar, the campaign used social media to put pressure on the warring parties to agree on a ceasefire. It is mobilising young people to play a role in the peace process and amplifying the voices and opinions of young women and men calling for peace. The campaign was launched by sharing a vox pop video in which young people share their messages to the conflict parties.
As part of the same project, a 5 days training of trainers on peace journalism in Yemen was organised. It was aimed at developing the skills and capacities of young journalists to provide a balanced coverage of the peace building process, giving them the keys to understand the ongoing negotiations while considering the different sensitivities to relay a neutral information. 10 young Yemeni journalists (5 women/5 men) coming from five regions (Aden, Hadhramout, Hudaida, Sanaa and Taiz) participated to the training.
There were many lessons learnt from the cooperation between Manasati30, RNW Media and UNESCO. The implementation of the project for instance greatly benefitted from the induction sessions we had. By bringing the project teams from both RNW Media in the Netherlands and Yemen and representatives from UNESCO in an online 3 days’ workshop at the start of our cooperation, we were able to manage expectations, define activities in detail and introduce the skills and expertise needed. In my opinion, this kick off was key to the project’s success. Having the team in the country being in the lead of setting the timeline was also a good lesson learnt.”