» Amplifying the voices of Yemeni youth through social media and debates on World Press Freedom Day
23.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Doha

Amplifying the voices of Yemeni youth through social media and debates on World Press Freedom Day

UNESCO and RNW Media (Radio Netherlands Worldwide) joined forces on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated annually on 3 May, to provide a platform for debate among Yemeni youth on the role of social media in raising the concerns, aspirations and needs of young people, and to discuss freedom of expression online and the issue of hate speech, in cooperation with the University of Sana’a Faculty of Mass Media.

A debate under the theme “New Media: Freedoms and Regulations” was organized on 17 May 2017 at the University of Sana’a featuring eight students and young journalists who were trained and selected to debate on freedom of expression, social media and the issue of hate speech online in front of an audience of more than 300 people, including media students and representatives from civil society organizations. 

The audience and jury members were invited to rank the performance of the youth who took part in the debate, which was moderated by prominent TV presenter Omer Al Warfy. During the debate, youth were also given the opportunity to share their experiences as social media users and content producers and to reflect on the role social media can play in amplifying voices of young people in Yemen.

In addition, the results of an online survey on “freedom of speech on social media" conducted by RNW Media’s Arabic platform Huna Sotak in Yemen, Libya and Syria were presented for discussions during the debate. The survey showed that 68% agreed to the statement that “social media platforms fall outside the rule of law and are used to harm others”.

Prior to the debate, a three-day training was organized for 20 media students and young journalists to develop their debating and presentation skills, strengthen their knowledge in the field of freedom of speech, ethics and online journalism and to prepare them for the public debate.   

The event was organized under the Yemen Youth Panel initiative, a project led by RNW Media which seeks to collect and expose the opinions and aspirations of young Yemenis and foster free debate on social media to give young people a say about the issues that affect them.

UNESCO works with media development partners in Yemen to support freedom of expression, safety of journalists and to ensure journalists can continue to report information to the public in a context where escalation of violence has considerably limited access to information and freedom of speech.

More information on Yemen Youth Panel can be found the project's Facebook page

Photos of the event can be seen on this link

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