Are you familiar with the terms advocacy, social change or community development?
Well, you cannot separate these words from Tunisian-born Mouna Ben Garga because she lives by them. Mouna Ben Garga epitomizes the notion of active citizenship and innovation for social change.
Community mobilization and development are her passion. When she isn’t advocating for the rights of immigrants in the US, Mouna’s working to influence national and international agendas.
Share with us what you do. How many people you touch and how long you have been at it?
Since 2009, I have committed myself to advocate and mobilize communities. I started as a member of the Junior Chamber International in which we build the capacity of youth to find solutions and be agents of change in their communities.
Moving to the United States, I got engaged with the African Diaspora advocating for the rights of immigrants and engagement in the continent through the AU Diaspora participation program.
Finishing my Master in Public Policy, I found myself doing what I always loved to do as a profession; “community development and advocacy”. I work to create strong alliances to influence national and international agendas around critical causes such as climate change, Agenda 2030 and youth engagement.
Currently, as a programme officer at CIVICUS, a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world, I support civil society organizations in Africa and Middle East to develop their innovation capacity in community building and mobilization.
What are you excited about lately?
I am excited about innovation for social change. For a long time, innovation was associated with business and science. However, lately we’re starting to witness the rise of innovation for social change and impact.
Lately, I am working to make it part of communities empowerment in Africa and Middle East.Lately we're starting to witness the rise of innovation for social change and impact Click To Tweet
Why do you believe in the work you do?
Any sustainable positive change comes from within.
But together we are stronger, more influential and more efficient. Thus, I work to connect people and communities and build partnerships.
How do you stay motivated?
Reading and watching the impact that people are making around the world. It could start from a video advocating women’s right in India. Then, there is an innovative app which helps raise money for Syrian refugees.
I have also been recently motivated by an article about a solution for climate change initiated in small village in Tunisia by a young woman. These achievements empower me to keep working because I am not trying alone.
What is that one thing you think needs to be improved on in Africa’s development?
Full engagement! Decisions about Africa and its development are taken in offices far away from people who will be the final implementers.
Many plans and strategies are published every year and with any new international action, but the implementation mechanisms are not effective. This delays the impact and creates more tensions.
African citizens should play an important part in the continent’s development and not only limited to consultative role. A participatory approach is needed and a process of co-design in which civil society organisations (CSOs) play the interim agent between communities and governments.African citizens should play an important part in the continent's development Click To Tweet
What do you appreciate most about your country, Tunisia?
Youth! As most of the African countries, our treasure in Tunisia is our youth. Despite the political instability, our youth is finding many ways to make a change.
It is true that many of us decided to be active in CSOs but they are working toward showing a real impact and influencing political process. We stand for our rights, against corruption and we demand transparency and engagement.
We’ve reached a point in Tunisia at which the youth are moving from protesting to influencing.
What do you think makes a good road trip?
Companionship is what makes a good road trip. Even though you can enjoy the good view and the trip journey alone, it is more nurturing to share it with others.
You learn new things from company and your eyes open to new facts and realities. In fact, you will probably pay attention to other details in the road that you would not see alone.
What three items do you always carry with you on a road trip?
- CD and books
- My favourite music
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