Speaking up globally

For a second year running, RNW Media has taken part in the global SPEAK! Campaign organised by CIVICUS. The 2019 campaign built further on 2018’s theme “Speaking with” which aimed to address increasing social and political polarisation, focusing on breaking down barriers between people and communities. Citizens’ Voice projects in six countries participated in the 2019 campaign and for the first time RNW Media also organised an event in the Netherlands.

The Citizens’ Voice programme works in restrictive settings where freedom of expression is limited and young people lack opportunities to participate in public debates. The programme builds inclusive online communities and creates alternate civic spaces where young people from disparate groups can come together and move from polarised discussions to constructive debates and dialogue. The SPEAK! Campaign resonates with the Citizens’ Voice values and approach and projects in DRC, Burundi, Mali, Yemen and Libya took part with both online and offline activities.

Peace and cohesion
Each country team developed activities around themes that were particularly relevant for their local context. These ranged from debates on how to combat tribalism and radicalisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a sporting and cultural event in Mali around the theme ‘peace and cohesion between communities’ and an event facilitating dialogue between young people and the older generation in Burundi.

Digital rights are human rights
In the MENA region, activities included an online debate in Yemen around women’s role in the Yemeni workforce and a campaign encouraging people to open up and speak about mental health issues in Libya. RNW Media also organised an event in Amsterdam in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs focusing on digital access in restrictive settings, one of the few SPEAK!2019 events in the Netherlands. Keynote speaker was the Dutch Human Rights Ambassador, Dr Bahia Tahzib-Lie, who stressed that “digital rights are human rights”.

If you’d like to know more about RNW Media’s participation in the Speak! 2019 campaign, please download the full report.


CIVICUS reports that overall, there were 179 SPEAK! 2019 events across 55 countries and the campaign had a social media reach of over 2.1 million.