Ensuring inclusion of youth and women is vital in creating a culture of peace, especially in Iraq, a country with one of the youngest populations in the world.
During January and February 2021, Youth and Women for Peace groups supported by UNDP Iraq from Anbar, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Diyala participated in meetings to discuss initiatives that will make a positive difference in their communities this year. During these lively sessions, energy in the air was palpable as the youth and women discussed their hopes and goals for 2021.
In 2020, the Youth and Women for Peace Groups supported by UNDP Iraq implemented 27 initiatives, reaching over 11, 000 beneficiaries. These initiatives included beautifying their community with art, support to marginalized women headed households, distribution of Personal Protection Equipment related to COVID-19, an extensive online campaign to combat domestic violence, distribution of clean drinking water to vulnerable communities in remote areas with access to poor quality water, launching campaigns on domestic violence and psychosocial support and creation of videos on topics related to peacebuilding, among others.
“In 2020, my favorite initiative was our work to rehabilitate a school in Diyala through painting and handiwork. It was meaningful and impactful for the community that brought happiness to students.” -Mohammad, Diyala Youth for Peace Group.
In 2021, the groups will implement more than 50 initiatives, doubling their impact in 2020. Funding for the Youth and Women for Peace Groups is provided by the Danish government, represented by Jan Pirouz Poulsen during a meeting on 17 February 2021 when members from all groups met in Erbil, Iraq. Mr. Pirouz Poulsen heard from the representatives on the impacts of their previous ;initiatives, the challenges they faced and their aspirations as they presented the themes surrounding their future interests.
“The Danish people are very encouraged about the energy and vision of youth to build up a stronger Iraq.” — Jan Pirouz Poulsen, Senior Stabilisation Advisor (Iraq), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
The Youth and Women for Peace groups are coordinated through the Integrated Reconciliation Project component of UNDP Iraq’s Social Cohesion Programme.