Who is Aya?
Aya’s passion for youth empowerment intersects with a vision for peace.
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 founding chair of the Afrika Youth Movement, 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.
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 has become an international speaker and was a keynote at BOND conference, the UN Commission on the Status of Women celebrity event, US Congress hearings, TEDx and Deutsche Welle 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 and 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 Interim Group/Board of Africans Rising Movement chaired by Kumi Naidoo and the International Steering Group of UNOY Peacebuilders, and joined the Advisory Committee of World Peace Initiative Foundation and Advisory Committee of FRIDA Young Feminist Fund. She is also the youngest Councilor at World Refugee Council chaired by honorable Lloyd Axworthy.
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 and Youth Hub Africa as well as listed among 100 under 40 Most Influential Arabs by ArabianBusiness and Most Influential Africans list by African Youth Awards.
In 2012, she was a Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University and 2015 Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholar for her MSc 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 7 years, 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. She considers her life’s mission 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 and works from Nairobi, Kenya.