KAS and IRIS launch Iraq Leadership Fellows Program

First advocacy training for young Iraqi activists held in Beirut

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In cooperation with the Institute for Regional and International Studies from the American University of Sulaymaniyah, the KAS Syria/Iraq Office launched a Leadership Fellows Program for Iraqi actors of media, politics and civil society. Participants of the cohorts receive three trainings a year on leadership skills, democratic participation and political responsibility. The program launched in Beirut on October 24-25 with the first intake of 22 young Iraqis coming from various regions, including Kurdistan-Iraq.

Involvement of young Iraqis in the political life of their country is often not echoed among a larger public. This is due to a lack of coordination between civil society actors and emerging political actors and to a lack of resources and skills to mobilize and advocate for political and social causes. To fill this gap, the KAS Syria/Iraq Office and the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) from the American University of Sulaymaniyah launched the Iraq Leadership Fellows Program in Beirut on October 24-25 with the first intake of 22 young Iraqis coming from various regions, including Kurdistan-Iraq.

In the aftermath of the Kurdish referendum for independence and in light of the next Iraqi parliamentary elections planned for May 2018, the advocacy training that took place in Beirut was a timely start for the Iraq Leadership Fellows Program. It aimed at bringing together young activists from different backgrounds, including media, politics and civil society, and from various regions of Iraq, including Kurdistan, to train them on advocacy methods and mentor them while setting up a practical plan for an advocacy campaign.

The training showed first that political concerns and issues can overcome ethno-sectarian divides, which is critical for the new generation of Iraqi political actors. Many expressed their willingness not to talk about religion, but instead about politics, as they distinguish both spheres. Moreover, the training made them work together on examples of advocacy campaigns and trainees with various backgrounds and different regions of Iraq came up with interesting plans benefitting Iraqi society as a whole.

The training was the first in a series of three that will be held until fall 2018, accompanied by mentoring in-between the training sessions. The trainees of the class 2017-2018 should thus be able to design a real advocacy campaign with some of their classmates and to implement it by the end of next year.

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Lebanon, November 14, 2017

The fellows engaged in a group activity
The fellows receiving an input on advocacy from their trainer