We ease into the upcoming celebrations on May 3rd of the World Press Freedom Day 2017 with a background of solid work on freedom of expression and editorial cartoons done in Morocco by youth organizations part of NET-MED Youth in cooperation with the Moroccan Cartoonist Center, L’Institut Français de Rabat and Cartooning for Peace, an international network of cartoonists led by Plantu, world-renowned head cartoon editor of Le Monde. The initiative was conceived as a joint effort between UNESCO’s NET-MED Youth and another EU-funded project “Let´s draw for peace and democracy” implemented by Cartooning for Peace.
After a series of workshops and sessions of brainstorming, discussions and idea generation involving youth and cartoonists over the last months, it all finally came together in the form of a cartoon exhibit titled “Tsawar M3aya” (“picture/imagine with me”) illustrating young Moroccans’ perspectives about key challenges in their country. The opening of the exhibition took place on April 11th at the symbolic and beautiful space of the National Library of Morocco in Rabat, where a series of cartoons and accompanying text developed for pedagogical purposes were on display for the public to view and reflect on.
A round table led by Plantu, Laurence Petit from Cartooning for Peace, NET-MED Youth Coordinator in Morocco Zoubida Mseffer, director of the Institut Français Jean-Pierre Mahoué and other cartoonists stimulated the debate and discussion on themes of freedom of expression, youth representation in the media, editorial cartoons as a tool to raise awareness, inform the public, express opinions and engage in dialogue. The cartoonists agree that, just like journalistic writing, editorial cartoons have the specific ability to shed the light on subjects that could otherwise be omitted or would remain untold.
The youth organizations that took part in this long but fruitful process are all engaged in efforts promoting youth civic participation, human rights and freedom of expression. The involvement of youth in this project has been a priority for NET-MED Youth, which works on ensuring youth inclusion in media content creation, the representation of their views and issues in the different platforms available and their freedom to access and produce information, among other important areas.
“Youth are the best placed to talk about the future,” says Plantu. “Youth are a source of inspiration.”
Representatives of several top-ranking national media outlets were present to cover the event and to carry out interviews. It was a media-full house!
The opening was followed by a training benefiting illustrators and cultural trainers, held on 12th-14th April 12-14. As the cartoons and related pedagogical toolkit tour Morocco starting April 25, participants that benefited from these trainings will, through their newly-acquired socio-educational skills, be able to use editorial cartoons as awareness-raising and dialogue tools for youth. The exhibition will be shown in schools and organizations facilitating non-formal education across the country, meeting more young people, and inspiring them to share their opinions on citizen participation, socio-economic inclusion, media, freedom of expression, access to information freedom of expression, among other topics of priority.
For more information on the press coverage, click here for a press review of the event.
Read here about the cooperation between UNESCO and Cartooning for Peace to mark World Press Freedom Day 2017.
Cover photo: © Saad Jalal/UNESCO/Cartooning for Peace