December 14, 2022 General / newsletter 0 Comment

The Activist Lab experiments how to equitably partner and enhance the power of youth activists to push path-breaking progress on political accountability, climate justice, gender equality and economic transformation.

30 young activists and a few representatives of our partner organisations came together in Tbilisi, Georgia to learn from each other, get new inspiration, but also shape the future of the Activist Lab. The event was hosted by World of Tolerance (a partner organization of Justice and Peace) and facilitated by Butterly Works.

In online sessions we had co-created with youth activists the three-day long program, making sure that it was youth-led and the sessions covertop-of-minds content. Thanks to a local translation agency we were able to fluidly switch between English, Georgian, Arabic, French and Spanish, making it possible for everyone to participate and breaking down language barriers (as much as possible).

But what happens really if you bring in young activists from Georgia, the Netherlands, Lebanon, Peru, Namibia and Benin in one room? Absolute magic happens! With each hour, each day you could see how the participants brought themselves in more openly, shared more whole-heartedly. Creating together a ‘brave space’ that enabled vulnerability, learning, creativity and the possibility to be curious and ask questions. But also, to laugh, have fun and create deep friendships.

A three-day long exchange

On day one we looked at “hot topics” that come up for many activists. We talked about: How do we create safer spaces; the connection between human rights and climate change; advocacy for LGBTQIA+ inclusion; and ended the day by having the opportunity to learn from Lebanese activists more about the current situation they face.

On day two we focused further on how to connect more deeply. Paying attention to our needs as activists when it comes to well-being, celebrating our activism through zine making and ending the day with an incredibly inspiring exchange session with four Georgian activists. The openness and courage of each and every participant and speaker enabled us to find unexpected links and commonalities. Whilst we might live on the opposite side of the globe some connections were striking.

This discovery led us beautifully into day three, where it was all about #wearefamily. How can we work together in the future on a global level? How can we keep this energy and inspiration alive and take it back to our own country and context?

Our vision

Civic space in the world is shrinking – this can be felt in almost all countries in the world. Connecting the activist labs globally gives us the opportunity to grow together and have bigger impact. It’s the beginning of creating a youth-led space that empowers activists and supports them.

Now it is time to bring back the lessons learned into our own organisations and movements and implement them in the next Activist Lab’s to come. The national Activist Labs are hosted by a network made up of 9 organisations, including Actua.PE, the African Human Rights Network, Justice & Peace Netherlands, MAAN, Oxfam Novib, Oxfam Novib Activist Lab, Oxfam Peru, Pax, and World of Tolerance.