A sub-regional training workshop on “Social media, advocacy for youth inclusion” the Syrian Crisis in the Mashrek sub-region”

A sub-regional training workshop on Social media
(Beirut, 17-19 November 2013)
1. Background

The conflict in Syria has been going on for more than 2 years and has created a large scale displacement in the region and more specifically in the neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq). According to UNHCR, there are more than 2,1 Million refugees in the Arab region. Women and children make up three-quarters of the refugee population. Despite the efforts of the international community in providing support to the refugees in need, the programmes and services offered to them have not been sufficient to keep up with the flux of displacement. Unlike in the refugee camp settings in Jordan, Turkey, and in Iraq, Syrian refugees in Lebanon settle in a precarious Lebanese neighborhood relying on often their family and community ties.
Whereas humanitarian interventions give priority to life-saving service provisions, young female and male refugees growing up in precarity have far lesser opportunities to benefit from education and less access to good quality services. While they are often referred to special education, they are also selected into lower quality vocational tracks, and drop out more easily without any qualifications. Considering that social inclusion is a major factor in the development process in which every individual has rights, responsibilities and active roles to play as agents of change, inclusive quality education can be a powerful means to strengthen the social inclusion of refugee youth and their families impacted by the humanitarian crisis and with limited opportunities for schooling, mentoring and skills development training, with a view to promoting skills development opportunities and strengthening future employment prospects. Moreover, with the protracted and worsening crisis, not only the refugees but youth from host communities feel deprived of labour market opportunities. In addition to the security degradation, the unemployment among young men and women is becoming a source of increasing hostilities against the refugees.
Besides inclusive quality education, access to social media can also be an effective means to promote the social inclusion of young women and men. While the participation in social media can reduce feelings of exclusion, foster community engagement and open doors to information to help overcoming some aspect of social exclusion, exclusion from social media may underline the feelings of inequalities that disadvantaged young women and men already experience, such as no or little access to political, economic, scientific and cultural activities of the society.
Under the protracting crisis, the international response to the crisis is now being planned both from humanitarian assistance and the development policy framework. In order to ensure that the voices, contributions and roles of young women and men are duly taken into consideration, their access to social media and their leadership in promoting social inclusiveness and cohesion is a key challenge of the latter.
In his 2012 report on “Peacebuilding in the Aftermath of Conflict”, the UN Secretary General highlighted that “a successful peacebuilding process must be transformative and create space for a wider set of actors — including, but not limited to, representatives of women, young people, victims and marginalized communities; community and religious leaders; civil society actors; and refugees and internally displaced persons — to participate in public decision-making on all aspects of post-conflict governance and recovery”
Fostering social inclusion, social cohesion and trust through an inclusive and participatory peacebuilding process during and after a transition or conflict is a challenging task. Many  stakeholders remain on the margins or excluded from the processes. In particular, the potential contribution of young people to effective peacebuilding has received little attention and support. Yet, young people’s leadership and roles in preventing and resolving conflict, violence, discrimination and extremism is a key and rich resource essential to building sustainable peace. Young people, with a particular focus on young women whose voices, contributions and roles must be duly taken into account, can play valuable roles as innovators and agents of change, and their contribution should be actively supported and seen as part of building sustainable peaceful communities and supporting democratic governance. Considering moreover that social media is a useful platform for information sharing and for the promotion of social transformations and a culture of peace, its access to young women and men to become actively engaged is hence crucial.
The workshop aims to support the role of civil society organizations in advocating for social inclusion of young men and women as part of the post-conflict and peacebuilding efforts in the sub-region.

2. The sub-regional training workshop
(Beirut, 17-19 November 2013)
UNESCO Beirut Office in close collaboration with UNESCO Iraq Office will organize a 3 day sub-regional training workshop in Erbil (20-21, November 2013) on “Social media, advocacy for youth inclusion under Syria Crisis”.
The workshop is organized within the framework of UNESCO’s inter-govermental programme on “Management of Social Transformation (MOST)” Programme which is a unique driver for advancing holistic capacity-building initiatives on social transformations and for building bridges between social scientific knowledge, public policies and society. While social transformations through social inclusion and social innovation are at the crossroad of all of UNESCO’s activities, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged, one of the two strategic priority areas of the MOST Programme focuses specifically on “Social inclusion” as an essential feature of fighting poverty, exclusion, narrowing inequalities, and advancing toward social justice for the most disadvantaged vulnerable populations through democratic and participatory processes.
In close coordination with other humanitarian actors in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, UNESCO is providing strategic support to Syrian refugees and governments to increase their capacities and resilience under the protracting crisis, namely in the areas of: Education, Protection of Cultural Heritage, Freedom of expression and youth social inclusion.

3. Aim of the workshop
The workshop aims to enhance the skills of young men and women in the CSO and youth organizations in advocating for promoting social inclusion using social media, in the countries affected by the Syrian Crisis (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq).
Social media is no longer just about friends on Facebook and followers on twitter but the future of our cities and nations. It is giving a voice to the once voiceless, breaking the bounds of linear information dissemination and control, breaking the bounds of big business and big governments. Social media could enhance women’s participation in economic and political life, and allows them to increase their self expression and promote social change, and this is a strong belief that has risen up in the society (Tomlin, 2012). 
Social media tools now expose aspects of millions of Arab’s daily life, and thus affect the way they interact with the government, do business, and engage in civil society movements (Tomlin, 2012). 
Using social media for campaigning can be incredibly effective. Just like a traditional campaign, a good social media campaign has a target audience (community), message (conversation), and media outlet (channel). The social media campaign is more than the aggregation of the other 3 C’s. Aligning all three C’s around a focused goal is what makes up a solid social media campaign, and it’s how you choose which metrics are best to measure progress.
This workshop will give participants with different practical tools to strengthen communication skills and know-how to campaign through social media.

4. Venue/ Date
The three day workshop will take place in Beirut from 17-19 November 2013.

5. Profile of 20-25 participants
  • 15-20 CSO/ Youth associations from 4 countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq) 
  • 5 from UN and International organizations

6- Workshop
The workshop will be moderated by the trainers of Global Platform Jordan to be interactive through presentations, group and floor discussions. The working language of the workshop will be English and Arabic. Simultaneous translation will be provided.

Global Platform Jordan is ActionAid’s training hub for empowerment and activism in the Arab region. GP Jordan trains organizations and individuals in gaining knowledge, skills and attitudes to end poverty and injustice.


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