Working virtually with a Tunisian NGO

Faculté des sciences sociales
From the Field

Par Julia

Student, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights with a Minor in Law

Carte du monde
(En anglais seulement)

“Until participating in the Faculty of Social Science’s international internship program, I had never worked for an NGO.”

Julia, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights with a Minor in Law, Alternatives, Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES)

Over the past few years, I instead gained professional experience in the public sector, including as a Junior Desk Officer for the Maghreb region at Global Affairs Canada. Since I had only ever pursued opportunities to learn about international human rights and development priorities from a federal government perspective, this semester, I became eager to understand these matters from a new lens. How does the day-to-day work of an NGO improve human rights situations in practice? Are the priorities of NGOs in the Maghreb generally aligned with those of the Canadian federal government and/or their own governments? To begin to answer these questions, I decided to complete a virtual internship with the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES).

In the first six weeks of my internship, I have learned about the Tunis-based organization’s work in four key areas: the rights of women, labourers, migrants, and the environment. Among my most rewarding experiences, the FTDES provided me with an opportunity to prepare a comprehensive report and recommendations on a human rights topic of my choice, with the aim of advancing the organization’s advocacy initiatives. I have chosen to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized women in Tunisia, including textile manufacturing workers, women from rural areas, migrants, and refugees. This project not only furthers my understanding of current human rights challenges in the country, but is also directly related to my interests in women’s rights and gender equality. From an academic perspective, concepts that I studied in a traditional classroom setting, such as qualitative research methods, also continue to support me as I draft the report.

Despite the online nature of this internship, my work with the FTDES has therefore been enriching thus far. While I initially feared that virtual work would cause me to feel disconnected from my host organization, I feel involved in the FTDES’ initiatives and, as a result, hopeful that I will be able to (at least partially) answer the questions that prompted me to work with an NGO in the first place. Most of all, I look forward to making a contribution that will shed light on the current situation of vulnerable groups of women in Tunisia.