Nurturing Youth Leadership in Iraq
70 young people attended a UNDP organized Youth Training Camp at the American University in Sulymaniya from 18 to 24 August. The Camp sought to nurture youth leadership through the capacity building of master trainers amongst the participants. These had previously been selected from nearly one thousand expressions of interest, based on specific selection criteria and gender equality. This event represents a continuation of UNDP’s efforts to empower youth in terms of their participation in Iraq’s political future.
Three areas were highlighted as a result from a participatory needs assessment of training requirements: training of trainers; project management; and, youth mobilization. Aside from the skills imparted by senior international trainers and UNDP, one critical outcome of the event was the building up of trust and unity among the participants, who were from all parts of Iraq and from diverse ethnic and religious representations.
One participant said “The first thing that I noticed upon arrival to the American University was the diversity in so many things: where we're from, our beliefs, our educational backgrounds, etc., and the thing that I realized upon the completion of the training was the unity in our humanity. Each one here has a special story to tell.”
The Training of Trainers workshop focused on providing knowledge, techniques and different approaches to be used while designing, implementing and evaluating training.
The Project Management Training workshop focused on building the capacity of participants to review their previous projects, redesign, evaluate and learn about project cycles, including logical frameworks.
For the Youth Mobilization workshop, the trainers addressed advocacy tools that can mobilise youth to achieve specific objectives and influence decision making in the public policy making process. The workshop also addressed the use of social media in mobilising youth.
The impact of the training was not limited to the participants and the volunteers. The students of the American University were very much involved in different activities and willing to build relationships with the participants as well. One student said, “We have different NGOs and clubs within the university but we are facing problems with engaging youth in our activities as volunteers – we learned a lot from the participants during these days.”
The event was covered extensively across Iraqi social media and by the fourth day of the training camp, a page on Facebook was created (Iraqi Youth café https://www.facebook.com/IraqiYouthCafe). The page has already been viewed by 50,000 people across Iraq.
The next step is to help the participants design and implement their activities by engaging their communities and decision makers. Their activities will lead to the next step of the project, a meeting with the Iraqi Parliament in two months. By the end of this year there will be an evaluation meeting with youth to evaluate the process of this project and how to make it sustainable.
Dhafer Hasan, Youth Project Officer