A little over nine years ago, Tunisia’s people rose up against a tyrannical government in what became known as the Jasmine Revolution. It began in December 2010 with the self-immolation of twenty-six-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi in protest against the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by municipal officials, and ended less than a month later with the ousting of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Much of the protest was inspired and led by Tunisia’s youth, who make up a large portion of the region's population.
But then came the hard part: channeling that energy and spirit of change in an effort to stabilize the country and to continue transitioning Tunisia’s society toward democratic governance.
“There has been a great deal of progress since then, and Tunisia's youth have truly been at the heart of it,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green during a recent visit to Tunisia. “Young people dissatisfied with the lack of voice in their own government were the energy that powered change. Young people demanding a say in their own future have truly reshaped the country.”
USAID Administrator Green spoke in mid-February during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a newly-rehabilitated youth center in the Tunisian city of Kairouan. The renovation is a part of “Ma3an”, a five-year project funded by USAID. Ma3an works with international partners in 30 Tunisian communities to engage marginalized youth; to identify and reduce community-specific vulnerabilities; and to harness public and private sector resources to create a lasting foundation for social cohesion and resilience.
Tunisia's constitution states that “youth are a driving force in the building of the nation,” said USAID Administrator Green. “Importantly, the constitution also commits the government to respond to the needs of youth. It commits the government to expand their participation in cultural, economic, social, and political life,” he said.
“The U.S. Agency for International Development stands ready to support the people and the government of Tunisia, as they work to fulfill that promise.”