Youth are the future:
Over half of Iraq’s total population of more than 40 million are under the age of 25. Young people are one of the most valuable resources for building a prosperous and inclusive Iraq, a country at a pivotal stage of development, following decades of conflict, economic crises and now, the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNDP Iraq engages with youth from all areas of Iraqi society, across a variety of programmes including community stabilization, social cohesion, security, environment, climate change, and innovation.
To celebrate International Youth Day, we asked young people supported by UNDP Iraq to raise their voices and share their thoughts on the importance of involving youth in decision-making toward a better future.
“By empowering young people, the roots of extremism and violence will be eradicated, and we will head towards recovery.”
- Kawthar Almohammedi, 30, Member of the Anbar Youth for Peace Group supported by UNDP Iraq’s Social Cohesion Programme.
“Iraqi youth have an incredibly unique ability to adapt and endure challenges and to keep on creating wonderful things. It is particularly important to involve youth in major decisions, as they understand people and their current needs.”
Bilal, 22, engineering student from Basra and participant in the UNDP Local Area Development Programme’s community reporter training.
“Giving young people a space to make their own decisions builds a broader base for citizen participation and creates stronger and more inclusive societies. Young people in Iraq are ambitious and possess the ability to work intensively toward achieving their goals.”
- Shumoos Ahmed, 21, Member of a youth-serving organization participating in UNDP’s Youth Leadership Programme.
I participated in this programme because it encourages youth to work hand in hand to make fundamental change, and leads young people to take a role in important decisions. My message for youth is that they need to cooperate together to build a new Iraq.
Nra Saado, 21, Beneficiary of vocational training under UNDP’s Security Sector Reform Community Security Integration Pilot Project.
“Young people play in an important role in Iraq’s development. I believe every single young Iraqi has unique abilities and talents. But due to lack of exposure and resources, many young Iraqis need the right kind of support and encouragement to push them towards a better future. Therefore, we need to empower more young people to ensure a better future for Iraq.”
- Saqr Abdul Karim Mihna, 23, Founder, Al-Basha sweets and pastries, and recipient of a small business grant from UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme.
“It has been incredibly challenging for students to pick up our education post-ISIS. The pandemic has also brought its own set of challenges to the campus. But through all of this, there has been one common thread, and that is to never give up. We are an incredibly determined and ambitious batch of young people.”
- Haneen Hani, 27, Graduate, College of Science, Mosul University, and beneficiary of Mosul University rehabilitation by UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization.
“Today, youth in Iraq represent the largest segment of society. It is very important to involve them in decision-making as they have a broad and contemporary political, social, and economic outlook that will generate many different solutions.”
- Firdaws Nadhum, 26, Member of a youth-serving organization participating in UNDP’s Youth Leadership Programme.
“The most important thing that young people can do for Iraq is self-development and to always be up to date. It is so important include young people in decision making process, because young people are the future.”
- Fatima Nasr Abdullah, 24, a campaigner with Spark, and participant in the community reporters training under Headway programme.