Aya Chebbi is an activist and AU Youth Envoy. We interviewed her as part of our #PassTheMic campaign. Here’s some of what she had to say.
The COVID-19 pandemic is taking over the world, causing a worldwide impact on education. School and university closures are disrupting the education of over 1.53 billion learners, 743 million of whom are girls. School and university students around the world have had to adapt to e-learning.
Lockdowns, quarantines, curfews, isolation, and social distancing that you hear about daily are increasing anxiousness and worries, making young people feel far away from friends, loved people, and professors.
But we are resilient as human beings and we can adopt and overcome.
To make a difference, we need to believe in our power as young women. Our power to better humanity.
Young women and girls here are left out of the digital revolution
The effectiveness of educational technology depends on the strength of national networks and connectivity to technology. These tech solutions seem to be the best way to reduce the huge learning loss during a crisis. But they also risk widening learning inequality because of the digital divide. What about young women in rural communities trying to get an education during COVID-19?
E-learning is a privilege and not accessible to those without technology or who can’t afford costly internet. For example, 70% of Africa’s population is offline, because the majority of Africa is rural. There is also a limited access to hardware, devices, and connectivity, which can be prohibitively expensive. And there’s a lack of access to digital literacy and skills required by teachers, students, and their communities to make the best of the available learning resources
Boys are 1.5 times more likely to own a phone than girls in low- and middle-income countries and are 1.8 times more likely to own a smartphone that can access the internet.
That’s why we need to empower girls during this crisis to have equal access to socioeconomic and digital opportunities
My message to young women around the world
To make a difference, we need to believe in our power as young women. Our power not to watch and blame the system, but to change it. Our power to better humanity. Our power that leads from a place of love to bring about healing and mend the broken spaces of our world.
In the globalised world with shades of oppression, our voices will only be effective if they are unified and collaborative.
The most powerful power of our time is transnational solidarity. There is political power, economic power, and the power of working together to accelerate change with the tools and talents we have acquired. In the globalised world with shades of oppression, our voices will only be effective if they are unified and collaborative.
While the world is becoming a global village, the more we build on the power of solidarity, the more we will be ready for the future. The struggles of the next decade will require transnational solidarity.
I am optimistic because I know that nothing is permanent, COVID-19 pandemic will end. We have overcome many hardships before. We need to focus on what you and I can change, what you and I can influence and learn during this time.
Always remember that you are not alone, we are all in this together.
I have worries too, I have a mental and emotional load everyday, stress, pressure, burnout. But I wake every morning, do my meditation, and smile — filled with the hope that I today can support someone else and I can serve my community and constituency to come out stronger.
Let’s get through this being the best versions of ourselves, Stay safe, stay healthy.
These excerpts from the interview were edited for length and clarity.
Hear more from experts in our #PassTheMic campaign, where global health experts take over celebrities’ social media channels to share the data, facts, and science we need to know to end COVID-19. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more.