Iraq projects empower youth to rebuild after IS; strengthen media freedom

An UNDEF project in Iraq works to strengthen youth participation in democratic processes, building a network of young activists to develop skills in leadership, negotiation and communication. Youth use media tools to communicate their stories and experiences, and engage with local authorities and other civil society actors to advance democracy and human rights.  Implemented by Al-Tadhamun Iraqi League for Youth, the project focuses on 16 targeted districts in three governorates – Al Anbar, Ninawa, and Saladin-- struggling to rebuild following a period of IS occupation.

The three governorates suffered economic collapse following the conflict with IS, including a disastrous unemployment rate, a severe lack of services, and an increase in the proportion of widows.  The regions are also highly diverse in terms of religion, ethnicity and political affiliation.

The funding from UNDEF marked a turning point for Al-Tadhamun, providing visibility and opportunities for new partnerships networks, enabling them to launch a range of further initiatives,  including supporting safe space for local identity groups, and creating a women’s advisory board in Al Anbar governorate.

As a result of the project, Al-Tadhamun became of hub for youth and civil society; youth leaders designed their own peacebuilding initiatives in two adjacent governorates -- Ninawa and Saladin -- based on learning from the project; and young team leaders volunteered for election monitoring in their area, as well as training more local young people to do the same in Al Anbar.

UNDEF Senior Project Officer Christian Lamarre visited the project in October 2021. He also met with an UNDEF project to strengthen journalism and media freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan. Implemented by the Kurdistan Human Rights Watch Organization, the project works to strengthen media professionalism, security, awareness of rights, advocacy for safer reporting conditions, as well as more accurate reporting and analysis as a component of democracy. Project activities also incorporate a response to the Covid-19 crisis for media on the frontline, and for the fight against misinformation.