The REF – French Euromed Network, is not a youth association. It is a network of multi-thematic French civil society organisations involved in the Mediterranean, working on human rights, gender equality, artistic and cultural issues, migrations, environmental and social issues, among others.
Nevertheless, the REF and its members know that we cannot address today’s issues without fully involving young people, who represent the category of the population most heavily impacted by the many political, economic, societal, environmental issues, that are affecting Mediterranean countries. In recent years, the REF has launched a vast project aimed at Mediterranean youth. This project stemmed from the will to stop speaking in the place of youth, in place of those who represent today the priority target of public policies, those who constitute more than half of the population of the Mediterranean countries, and who nevertheless remain so little listened to and rarely represented and involved at the different levels of governance in our countries.
The Youth Med Network (https://en.jeunessesmed.org/) is the result of this project. Set up in 2015, it brings together around 250 young Mediterranean people active in 17 countries. Through awide range of activities, it allows young people to talk about their experiences, the problems they encounter in their territories, to share their analyses and their view of the world. It also enables them to present the projects that they carry out at their level to improve their situation and that of their community, to build their future and often, to propose alternatives to current ways of thinking, expression and governance.
The Youth Med network is a space for free speech, for the establishment of international partnerships on a Mediterranean scale. It experiments with away of overcoming pessimism and current fractures through the mutual understanding of the issues specific to each and the construction of concrete solidarity, on a daily basis. This Cahier shows the diversity, and often, the gravity of the realities experienced by many young people in the Mediterranean. However, it also wants to give visibility to local initiatives, struggles and new models, which make us believe in the future and give us reason to dream and hope. The resistance of young people is materialized by projects anchored in the living spaces of each and every one. It is also widely exercised through social networks, the digital world and artistic creativity, to circumvent the shrinking of civic spaces in many of our countries.
Through the stories highlighting realities that are often little known, common issues emerge that run through many of the testimonies brought together in this Cahier. The urgent need for young people to overcome their powerlessness, and take action in the face of the widespread environmental crisis, and the rise of inequalities and precariousness represents a link between generations. Lastly, the authors of this polyphonic Cahier illustrate the need to take possession of their rights: the right to mobility, to settle elsewhere, to train, to experiment, to speak, to claim, to live with dignity, to fully assume their identities, their genders, their desires. May you have a good read!
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.