This toolkit — Youth Activism for Lebanese Accountability (YALA): An Inclusive Civic Engagement Training Curriculum — is about creating change through activism and accountability.
It is about creating change at the individual, institutional, and socio-political level by providing young people with the knowledge and skills to help shape the future of their country. It was developed at a time when the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was witnessing the second wave of mass protests movements led by youth and women.
This civic engagement toolkit seeks to provide young Lebanese citizens with the tools and information to become more effective in holding the government accountable and pursue policy solutions grounded in data and research. The Youth Activism for Lebanese Accountability (YALA!) program aims to prepare Lebanese youth to effectively hold their government accountable through a training course on the principles of civic engagement, debate and dialogue skills, and conducting advocacy and accountability campaigns. This program follows a step-down training format, whereby National Democratic Institute (NDI) trains a set of civil society partners, who then facilitate training modules with cohorts of youth across Lebanon.
The toolkit is based on the principles of empowerment and inclusion and is intended to provide youth with the technical know-how, confidence, and opportunities to effectively engage political institutions, and create space for young men and women to collaboratively work with the government to advance inclusive and responsive policy solutions.
The toolkit is divided into five modules:
- Masculinities and Gender Norms: The aim of this module is to prepare young Lebanese men and women to identify, develop and advocate for priorities in a gender sensitive way by addressing the attitudes and beliefs rooted in patriarchal gender norms and masculinities. The themes and concepts of the workshop are reflected in all aspects of the toolkit with all the program’s lessons incorporating gender considerations.
- Being a Change Agent: The first step to becoming an agent of change is acknowledging the deeply-rooted values that motivates one’s activism. This module is designed as a self-reflection exercise to help participants take stock of their personal situation and ground their actions so that they are reflective of their values, play to their strengths, and develop their capacities.
- Democracy and Civic Engagement: The third module offers a deep-dive into civic engagement, examining the principles of democracy and how to identify entry points and leverage these principles to take action. By the end of the module, participants will develop an understanding of the relationship between citizens and elected representatives; the role of citizens, political parties, civil society, and media in a democracy; and individual and collective human rights in a democratic society.
- Debate and Dialogue: During the debate and dialogue module, participants will focus on their public speaking skills, consensus-building techniques, and constructing and defending arguments. Deliberation and active listening skills will be a core component to increase participants’ ability to analyze complex issues from different perspectives, negotiate, and begin to build consensus. Participants will apply and deepen their skills through simulated debates and dialogue exercises.
- Advocacy and Accountability: The final module is designed to prepare participants to develop and implement well-researched advocacy and accountability campaigns. During this module, participants will determine whether they will pursue a strategy of awareness-raising, advocacy, or political process monitoring; map relevant communities and decision-makers for outreach; and develop action and communications plans.
How to Use this Toolkit?
This toolkit has been designed to offer as much flexibility as possible. The five modules contained in the toolkit can be: used separately and individually, one topic at a time; put together in whatever combination of topics is suitable and desirable; or used as an entire package for a comprehensive training program on democracy and civic engagement.