P4P medium Grant 

“Embracing Dissent: Redefining Democracy through the Perspective of the Young”

Sewit Haileselassie Tadesse (PI), Ali Altiok (Co-I), Irena Grizelj (Co-I)

How are young people in Ethiopia engaging with politics? What do we know about their unique perspective on political reform and peace-building? Are politicians and parliamentarians listening to these perspectives and demands for change? Since 2016, Ethiopia has been rocked by demands for socio-political reform from its young people. But Government in Ethiopia is yet to establish mechanisms and spaces for young people to participate meaningfully and substantively in formal political dialogue and process. As a result, young people in Ethiopia from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds amplify their voices using informal platforms, thereby questioning the legitimacy of formal political processes and spaces. The project team captures young people’s political participation and perspectives, including the innovative and creative ways they strive for peace and democracy. Using audio-visual and documentary reporting, as well as using arts-based and participatory approaches, the team helps construct positive narratives about young people’s agency and helps highlight the skills they can bring to develop a more inclusive political environment in Ethiopia.

 About the research team

Sewit Haileselassie Tadesse (@sewithst; https://www.linkedin.com/in/sewit-haileselassie-16a50217/) has a background in economic development focusing on issues of gender. She is President of AWiB Ethiopia, a women’s association dedicated to developing and promoting women’s leadership in Ethiopia. She is also co-founder of Changing Images, a social impact start-up working on transformational change.  As lead investigator on this project, Sewit’s experience in dialogue and research helps bring into focus a new perspective on youth political participation. She will identify, connect and articulate the many ways young people express dissent.

Ali Altiok (@atomicsentences; https://www.linkedin.com/in/ali-altiok-3aa02847/) is a trained film-maker as well as having a background in peace and security studies, with special reference to youth-based activities and engagement across conflict states globally. On this project, Ali manages the collection and collation of stories, songs, drama pieces, dances, and daily life interactions of young people through videography and photography, and relates these to the youth, peace and security agenda in Ethiopia. Ali also explores how the Ethiopian context aligns with, or departs from, global discourses of youth involvement in peace-building processes.

Irena Grizelj is an independent field researcher, analyst, and trainer focused on sustainable peace-building within transitional and conflict-affected states, as well as a specialist on youth engagement in peace processes. Her international work experience includes Myanmar, Zanzibar, Bosnia and the UK, and she has generated impact through strategic policy research and publication of reports focused on youth, peace, and conflict. Irena has in-depth knowledge of the Myanmar political, humanitarian, and peace process context, with proven ability to build trusted relationships with national and international actors, and brings a comparative dimension to bear on the research project.