Who is Aya?
African Union Youth Envoy
Aya Chebbi, an award-winning Pan-African feminist. She is the first African Union Youth Envoy and the youngest diplomat at the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet.
She is the founder of multiple platforms such as Youth Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (Y-PHEM) coaching the next generation to be positive change agents, Afrika Youth Movement (AYM), one of Africa’s largest Pan-African youth-led movements and Afresist, a youth leadership program and multimedia platform documenting youth work in Africa.
She served on the Board of Directors of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the World Refugee Council and Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct.
Chebbi became a world renowned blogger during 2010/2011 Tunisia’s Revolution running Proudly Tunisian. Her blogs were published at OpenDemocracy and Al-Jazeera among others. Since then, she has been traveling across the African continent to support and train thousands of social movement leaders and activists on mobilization, blogging, leadership and non-violence and continues to travel the world as a scholar, mentor, speaker and activist.
In 2012, Chebbi was a Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University and 2015 Mo Ibrahim Scholar for her Masters in African Politics at SOAS, University of London. She was recognized in 2016 and 2018 among 100 Under 40 Most Influential Africans in the World. She received 2016 Inspirational Woman of the Year by Women4Africa Awards, 2017 Pan-African Humanitarian Award by Pahawards and 2018 Young Talent of the year by UNLEASH Festival.
Chebbi’s extensive experience over the past decade made her an influential political voice known for rebranding Africa and commitment to youth empowerment, Peacebuilding and Africa’s integration.
Following Tunisia’s revolution, Chebbi has crossed the African continent to speak about the 21st century youth-led movements that started in her country, Tunisia. She has supported, trained and worked with thousands of social movement leaders, feminist groups, and youth activists on blogging, mobilization, leadership and non-violence.
Chebbi, is the founder of the Afrika Youth Movement,(AYM) one of Africa’s largest Pan-African movements taking the agenda of African youth from the margins of society into the centre of regional and international discourse. Founded by Aya in 2012 as a Facebook group, established in 2015, AYM strives to create a continent that respects the rights of all its citizens and achieves peace, equality and social justice. The movement has grown from a Facebook group of 500 followers to more than 10,000 grassroots activists from 40 African countries.
Aya previously worked at the refugee camps during 2011 Libyan revolution, 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.
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 OpenDemocracy, Al-Jazeera, D+C for Development and Cooperation, Your Middle East and Foresight for Development-Africa among others.
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 was also the youngest Councillor 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 appeared on top lists of people to watch; at the Huffington, 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, 2017 Pan-African Humanitarian Award by Pahawards and 2018 Young Talent of the year by UNLEASH Festival.
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 65 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.
Invested in grassroots development with a commitment to inclusion and centering development around people most marginalised by poverty and injustice, Aya 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.
Aya has lived and studied in Tunisia, Kenya, the USA and the UK. She currently lives in Tunis Tunisia.
Mo Ibrahim Scholar -MA African Studies – SOAS, University of London.
The Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Boston
Fulbright scholar – Georgia Southern University
BA English and International Relations- Tunis El Manar University