A group of about 35 young volunteers, representing the diverse communities living in Ninewa Governorate in North Iraq, presented their demands for a better future to decision makers. They did so during a PAX supported conference in the frame of PAX ‘ We Are All Citizens’ programme. The one-day conference took place on Friday August 28th in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, was attended by 180 people.
The idea was that, instead of decision makers addressing the community, young people would be able to present their realities and their demands to decision makers. The young people produced a documentary movie which recalled the impact of last years’ crisis of ISIS assault on the diverse communities. They prepared a panel discussion to address topics such as ‘being displaced and wanting to attend university’, ‘Yezidi girls need to rebuild trust’ and ‘building peace among communities’. Such practical topics are very dear to young people in Iraq.
They also presented studies that were conducted by young representatives of minority groups. Those studies share the reality of their particular situation in Iraq. These studies have been compiled in a book which is now available in Arabic. Finally, the youth presented a long list of recommendations which they shared with the Governorate Council of Ninewa.
Addressing needs to political representatives
The conference was attended by 16 political representatives (members of the Governorate Council of Ninewa and other political leaders of key areas), representatives of minority groups and about 150 young displaced people from Ninewa.
The head of Ninewa Governorate Council, Mr. Bashar Al Kiki, was present during the whole conference and requested to have a word during the event. He thanked the young people for their positive initiative, stating that it was probably the first time that such an event was organized by young people representing the community (and not political parties) and that it was important to consider this is a first step of closer dialogue between the Governorate Council, political leaders and the young people. He encouraged young people in other governorates to replicate similar initiatives.
Speak with one voice
The following day, PAX and Al Mesalla – an Iraqi Kurdish NGO and partner in the PAXprogramme – attendeda meeting with Mr. Bashar Al Kiki to immediately follow up on the conference and the recommendations presented by the young people. Again, Mr. Bashar stressed that it was a very successful initiative especially as the young people, representing diverse communities, managed to come together and speak with one voice about their future in Ninewa. He signed off on a very important recommendation: the creation of a youth advisory committee to the governorate council.
Youth advisory committee
Three days later, PAX and Al Mesalla were invited to meet again with Mr. Bashar and some members of the Governorate Council of Ninewa in Al Qosh near Dohuk, to discuss further the next steps about the creation of the youth advisory committee.
PAX and Al Mesalla are now working to make this happen, the committee will include about 9 young people who will be meeting with the Governorate Council on a monthly basis to discuss youth concerns and issues, and some terms of reference are being written to officialise the function of the committee.
For more info, you can also see the facebook page of the conference (in Arabic) or www.weareallcitizens.org
A 5 hour video of the conference has been placed on YouTube (start at the 40th minute)