Mobilizing the Next Generation: Reflections on the 2019 Young Libyan Leaders Academy

  • Kellen Edmondson

Eight years after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya remains a fractured nation characterized by divides along ethnic, tribal, geographic and ideological lines. In this environment, there is a lack of alliances or networks that bring young people together to discuss and try to overcome these differences.

To address this gap, the IRI Libya team brought together 20 young Libyan leaders and eight members of Generation Democracy, IRI’s global youth network, to participate in the Young Libyan Leaders Academy this March. The goal was to rebuild a countrywide youth network and identify strategies and solutions to help mobilize young Libyans to actively participate in civic and political processes. During the three-day workshop, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Generation Democracy members from Iraq, Mali, South Africa, and other countries helped the young Libyan leaders map challenges and design projects that aim to engage youth in civic and political processes. Below, three participants share their reflections on the event and their plans for the future.

Awaz Mustafa, Iraq, Generation Democracy Network Member 

During the Young Libyan Leaders Academy, I helped mentor and guide 20 young Libyan leaders through three days of trainings and discussions. This experience gave me greater confidence in my ability to represent my country and speak up on behalf of my community, and also empowered me to work harder to explore new ways of advocating for different social, political and economic issues affecting my community.

The Young Libyan Leaders Academy also gave me the opportunity to meet new people from different countries and hear about the challenges they face in their own contexts. My participation in this initiative pushed me to think critically about all aspects of my life. I am now trying to establish a group of women who can meet regularly to discuss and act on the issues important to us.

Faraj Hasan, Libya, U.S.–Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leaders Program Alumni

Participating in the Young Libyan Leaders Academy was one of the most inspiring things in my life. I got to meet great young leaders from around the world. What I found interesting and helpful about the program is that we had the chance to listen to the variety of experiences others have in different countries and then engage in discussions about the challenges that they faced in their communities. We concluded that youth from around the world face many of the same challenges, and we should therefore cooperate and build coalitions between youth organizations to share and exchange experiences. I believe this will make a huge impact on youth empowerment.

Fouziyhah Tahir, Libya, Chairman of the Board, Hand-in-Hand (Organization for Persons with Disabilities)

The young people I met during the Academy in Tunis were amazing and brought passion and varied experiences. As an elected member of a municipality, the Young Libyan Leaders Academy was a life-changing opportunity for me. As a result, I will work to ensure that youth are meaningfully engaged in the political system, as well as in civil society in my community. Although ensuring this kind of participation requires a large amount of energy and nonstop effort, the Academy showed me that this is possible based on the passion exhibited from the other Libyan participants and Generation Democracy members. I would like to ensure that the things I have learned from other participants worldwide do not stop with me. I am planning to continue expanding youth engagement by sharing all of the information I gained with more people at home.

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