Giving a voice to women, youth, and marginalised communities
Fadwa Zidi is the chief operating officer and executive producer at The Munathara Initiative, an online debate forum which seeks to highlight underrepresented voices in the Arab public sphere by creating opportunities for women, youth and marginalised communities to engage in constructive debate and address issues relevant to public affairs. “Our sole aim is to present alternative views and beliefs, and to teach the youth and new generation the art of debating, discussing, and accepting differences without resorting to conflict or letting our beliefs harm us,” says Fadwa.
Munathara organises workshops to train youth, women, and marginalised groups in media skills, such as how to engage in TV shows, formulate opinions, create a political image, and investigate information accuracy, and it also acts as a platform to broadcast debates.
'Musabaqat Munathara’ is an online debate competition where participants are invited to upload speeches in video format, with winners chosen by the general public. They are then paired with politicians or opinion leaders to engage in live-broadcasted television debates. The results of these debates are presented to policy decision-makers and other stakeholders.
“Munathara tries to encourage debate, discussion, and dialogue while facilitating citizen participation in dialogues that have an impact on decision-making processes. I think there are significant challenges in the Arab world, and we acknowledge and confront them,” says Fadwa. By empowering underrepresented voices to engage in the political sphere of their country, Munathara seeks to meet their growing desire for participation in society, and in the overall democratic process.