How Some Young Libyans in Tripoli are Spending Their Saturdays

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Presenting ideas back to the large group during a Saturday session.

In Tripoli, about 20 young people gather infrequently on Saturdays to discuss their work in youth oriented civil society organizations and student unions and how to play a role in achieving reconciliation among Libyans.

The USAID-supported Democratic Saturday provides a safe, facilitated forum for young people from diverse civil society organizations to meet, discuss their concerns, build trust, share stories and food, and grow in their civic engagement skills. As a result of their meetings -- held at the Democracy Resource Center, operated by a local non-governmental organization called H2O -- the young people intend to build a network of youth-oriented civil society organizations that will carry out civic education in Libya.

"Identifying ways to address the challenges impeding youth participation in Libya is a basis for ensuring the realization of our goals in the shortest time possible," said Akram Najar, a human rights activists and one of the most prominent civil society activists since 2011, and one of the participants in these events. 

At the first Democratic Saturday on December 24, 2016, participants discussed basic democratic principles, the importance of civil society and how it acts as a link between citizens and state entities. They also identified challenges faced in Libya for their organizations, including a public that has lost confidence in civil society and government, a state security apparatus that can threaten participants for being activists, and a lack of experience among the participants.

The will to succeed after the first Democratic Saturday did not wither and the young people gathered again in Tripoli on February 11, 2017. They discussed how to build skills to make their organizations more competent and vibrant. They worked in three small group sessions to brainstorm on how to consolidate linkages, avoid duplication, prioritize objectives, and how to restore trust with the public and work better with governmental bodies, especially municipal governments. After working in these groups, the Democratic Saturday participants agreed that their objectives should be to promote reconciliation, as political divisions among Libyans are often the main cause of armed conflicts; promote active citizenship to achieve peace; and rebuild civil society.

Hanan Alkalushi, a participant said in regard to the Saturday Session, "There will be an impact by activating youth groups and providing them directions with regards to target audience and types of relevant activities carried out. This will be done by speaking a language and using manners that are appropriate for this audience."

These young people know where to find each other on an upcoming Saturday in Tripoli, and the Democracy Resource Center will be there to host them and guide them in their learning and discussion.