new spaces


Turning societal challenges into common opportunities: democracy and active citizenship

Wednesday, 9 December 2020  •  09:45 AM  •  Workshop room 1

Democracy is under pressure, also in Europe. Recent developments like shrinking civic spaces, vast polarisation and increasing authoritarian tendencies all over Europe are just a few examples, which show that democracy and an open society can never be taken for granted. The panel will discuss what youth work can contribute to overcoming the challenges democracies in Europe are facing. What role can youth work play to foster democracy and active citizenship of young people?

Peter Matjašič

Peter Matjašič is a senior program officer at Open Society Initiative for Europe, part of Open Society Foundations based in Barcelona where he leads the work on whistleblowing and right to protest, which links to civic space issues in Western Europe. Previously, he led the work on reclaiming family values and OSIFE's engagement around European Elections 2014. Prior to joining OSF, he had been active in the field of youth work for 12 years, starting with the Young European Federalists and finishing as president of the European Youth Forum (2011-2014), advocating for the rights of young people and their organizations. Europe, human rights, gender justice, citizen's empowerment, tennis, and languages (he speaks eight) are his main passions.

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Emilia Roig

Emilia Roig (she/they) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Berlin-based Center for Intersectional Justice (CIJ), a non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing justice, equality and a life free of systemic oppression for all. Her experience growing up in a transracial Algerian-Jewish-Martinican family in France shaped her commitment to and passion for intersectional social justice. Emilia is faculty member of the Social Justice Study Abroad Program of DePaul University of Chicago and has taught graduate and post-graduate courses on Intersectionality Theory, Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race Theory, Queer Feminism and International and European Law at universities all across Europe. She holds a PhD in political science, a Master of public policy and an MBA in international law.

Prior to her PhD, she was working extensively on human rights issues at the UN in Tanzania and Uganda, at the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Cambodia, and at Amnesty International in Germany - and decided to leave the so-called ‘development’ field to focus on social justice in Europe. She has held numerous keynotes, talks and interviews at major conferences and events and was jury member of the German Non-Fiction Book Prize 2020 and of the 25 Women Award of Edition F in 2019. Emilia is dedicated to inspire people to divest from oppressive systems through spirituality, creating new narratives and redefining reality. She is the author of the book “WHY WE MATTER. The End of Oppression” to be released on 15 February 2021.

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Yael Ohana

Specialist of intercultural political education. Works at the intersection of educational practice, research, policy. Learned youth work at the Council of Europe’s European Youth Centres. Went on to become an educational advisor. Implemented the Directorate of Youth & Sport’s educational programme & youth policy activities. Practice focused on racism, discrimination & disadvantage (1996 - 2005). Founded Frankly Speaking – Training, Research & Development in 2005. Developed in the direction of evaluation, research, policy development & the facilitation of the strategic processes in the youth and civic sectors (2005 - 2019). Joined Open Society Foundations’s Berlin Office in 2019. Still active in European youth work & political education. Latest work on political education: ‘What’s politics got to do with it? European Youth Work Programmes & the development of Critical Youth Citizenship’.

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Nini Tsiklauri

Nini Tsiklauri is an artist, author and European activist who grew up in Hungary, Georgia and Germany. She speaks five languages and firmly believes in the power of civil society, which can tear down borders and unite Europe. In 2017, she started the citizens' movement “Pulse of Europe” in Vienna and the project “Europe Lab Austria“. With “The Young European Collective” she published appeals to the young European generation, such as the book “Who, If Not Us?! A four step guide to empower Europe and our generation.” With her latest book “Let's fight for Europe”, she makes a fiery plea for a common, solidarity and united Europe as a beacon of peace and freedom. Due to her fame as an actress among young people in German-speaking countries, she inspires young people in particular for political engagement. She is also committed to Georgian-European relations.

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