Who is Aya?
Aya’s passion for youth empowerment intersects with a vision for peace.
Aya Chebbi, an award winning Pan-African feminist, renowned blogger and internationally acclaimed Tunisian activist. She is the founder of Afrika Youth Movement, building one of Africa’s largest pan-African youth movements.
She previously worked as Africa and Middle East Programs Director at World Peace Initiative Foundation, at Bureau de Cooperation Tunisie-Denmark of the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry on bilateral cooperation, and at the Carter Center monitoring 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of CIVICUS, the World Refugee Council, Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct and the Advisory Committee of FRIDA Young Feminist Fund. She has been an Advisor and Consultant on gender and youth for international organizations including the United Nations and the African Union Commission.
Chebbi became a world renowned blogger during 2011 Tunisia’s Revolution. Her blogs were published at OpenDemocracy, Al-Jazeera, and Foresight -Africa. Blacklisted and banned from entering Egypt since March 2014, Chebbi continues to travel across the African continent to support and train thousands of social movement leaders and activists on mobilization, blogging, leadership and non-violence. She also runs her popular mentorship program; Youth-Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (Y-PHEM).
In 2012, Chebbi was a Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University and 2015 Mo Ibrahim Scholar for her Masters in African Studies at SOAS, University of London. She was recognized in 2016 among 100 Under 40 Most Influential Africans in the World and received 2017 Pan-African Humanitarian Award ayachebbi.com
Aya Chebbi, an award winning Pan-African feminist activist and renowned blogger. She is the co-founder of The Voice of Women Initiative (feminist collective) and runs her popular mentorship program; Youth-Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (Y-PHEM) and renowned blog Proudly Tunisian.
She is the founder and chair of the Afrika Youth Movement,(AYM) building one of Africa’s largest movements taking the agenda of African youth from the margins of society into the centre of regional and international discourse. Established in 2015, AYM strives to create a continent that respects the rights of all its citizens and achieves peace, equality and social justice. In just three years, the movement has grown from a Facebook group of 500 followers to more than 10,000 members from 40 African countries while Chebbi has crossed the continent to speak about the youth-led revolutions that started in her country. She has supported, trained and worked with thousands of social movement leaders, feminist groups, and youth activists on mobilization, leadership and non-violence.
Aya previously worked at the refugee camps during Libya’s war, at Bureau de Cooperation Tunisie-Denmark of the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry on bilateral cooperation in Tunis, and at the Carter Center monitoring 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections, in Tanta. However, she was blacklisted and banned from entering Egypt since March 2014.
Following Tunisia’s revolution, she has been widely speaking about social movements worldwide for conferences and rallies in the United States, Brazil, Germany, Turkey, Cyprus, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa among others.
She produced a documentary called “Kenya’s conscious transformation” as part of Africa Inspire Project that aims at changing the negative narrative about Africa and highlighting the role of youth and women in social change.
Aya has became a world renowned blogger during Tunisia’s Revolution and her pieces were published at UN- OpenDemocracy, Al-Jazeera, D+C for Development and Cooperation, Your Middle East and Foresight for Development-Africa.
Aya’s passion for youth empowerment intersects with a vision for peace. As the Programs Director for Africa and the Middle East and later the Director of Strategic Planning and Development at World Peace Initiative Foundation, she founded four projects Amani Fellowship, Amandla Fellowship, Heya Fellowship for Women and MENA Salam Fellowship where she organized and directed about 15 retreats that trained over 300 young people from some 40 countries to become peace agents.
She also introduced mindfulness practice and non-violent communication to over 5000 people in 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, South Africa, Morocco and Jordan. In recognition to her leadership in the foundation, she was appointed as Executive Director for Peace Revolution Summit.
Chebbi has served at different boards including the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS) Board, the Board of Directors of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the International Steering Group of UNOY Peacebuilders, and Advisory Committee of FRIDA Young Feminist Fund.
She is also the youngest Councilor at World Refugee Council chaired by honorable Lloyd Axworthy and the youngest commissioner at Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct.
In recognition of her achievements, Aya was named one of Africa’s most Outstanding Young Women Leaders in 2013 (Ghana). She also appeared on top lists of people to watch; at the Huffington Post List of Incredible Young Women from Around the World and Youth Hub Africa list of Formidable Women Leading Social Change in Africa as well as listed among 100 under 40 Most Influential Arabs by ArabianBusiness and Most Influential Africans list by African Youth Awards. In 2016, she received the “Inspirational Woman of the Year” by Women4Africa Awards and 2017 Pan-African Humanitarian Award by Pahawards.
In 2012, she was a Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University and 2015 Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholar for her MA in African Studies at SOAS, University of London, where her research focused on state-youth relation linked to their subscription to Jihadism, with a dissertation titled “Youth Jihadi Radicalisation, a comparative Study Tunisia- Kenya”.
Over the span of the past decade, Ms Aya Chebbi has travelled to over 60 countries worldwide working with young people and has single-handedly transformed the youth participation space across the world; she created various online and offline platforms to civically engage young people in dialogue for peaceful, equitable and sustainable development for their communities, strengthened the capacity of thousands of young people with a holistic focus on empowerment and well-being (i.e. retreats and fellowships),
Invested in grassroots development with a commitment to inclusion and centering development around people most marginalised by poverty and injustice, created and reformed global governance to include youth (i.e. as member of advisory committees and boards), utilised digital technology, storytelling and blogging to build global networks of change agents and support young people at risk of political violence, applied research and analysis to influence global policy (i.e.Masters thesis and UNA UK report), used all her speech engagements to advocate for youth.
Aya’s constant contact with young people in vulnerable and disempowering situations drives her commitment to youth empowerment. Aya considers her mission is to “radicalise youth into Pan-Africanism” and her legacy to “bridge North-South Sahara divide” uniting North Africa with the rest of the continent based on her pan-african vision and working towards Africa’s integration economically, culturally and politically.
Aya has lived and studied in Tunisia, the USA and the UK. She currently lives between Tunis and Nairobi.