Yemeni youth are among those whose lives have been completely consumed by the six-year civil war. This is not surprising since young people and children make up over 60% of the population. However, against all odds, young Yemenis are rising from the ashes of the conflict and engaging in activism to envision a better future for themselves and for their country.
Youth activism and empowerment have a rich history in Yemen. Youth activism became an active part of civil society during the Arab Spring of 2011. At that time, demonstrations in the Places of Change and protest camps provided a place for young Yemenis to meet and discuss their issues. hopes and demands for human rights. A number of youth-led organizations have been founded, carrying out advocacy, media coverage and monitoring.
Chaos returns to southern Yemen
When the regime led by Ali Abdullah Saleh ended in 2012, the transitional government that took control of Yemen took incredible steps to involve young people in the national dialogue. A technocratic cabinet was formed in 2014 that “drew heavily on young leaders,” many of whom had generous access to decision-makers. Institutional advances made during this period have since been abandoned. However, the spirit of young Yemeni activists lives on in the actions of young leaders today.
The Yemen war spared no one, not even his children. The situation in the country is worsening as fighting continues between the internationally recognized Yemeni government supported by Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels. The war led to the complete collapse of government services and the destruction of critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and roads.
What are the young people doing?
Although the war is not over, young Yemeni activists are stepping up their support for their number one priority: peace. They combine humanitarian initiatives with development components to create a sustainable approach to peacebuilding. This includes advocating for small businesses like food carts and home delivery kitchens, using social media skills to raise awareness of public health and safety issues, and designing graphics to show how to avoid the problem. contaminated water or where landmines are located.
Young activists create a culture of trust and community, especially among vulnerable populations where support networks might otherwise have collapsed during the conflict. In the event that funding is no longer sufficient to support humanitarian assistance, these programs and companies will continue to support Yemenis. By creating opportunities and family support, Yemeni youth keep alive the social fabric necessary to achieve long-term stability.
The youth empowerment initiatives that Yemeni activists organize also seek peace. The most immediate objective of these initiatives is to offer an alternative to fighting in conflict. These initiatives champion the central goals of youth empowerment: for young people to develop skills, awareness and opportunities that will positively impact their lives towards a future they have chosen.
Yemeni youth activists fight unemployment and provide livelihoods, protect young people from conflict and increased polarization and also maintain security. These activists have shown a great capacity for adaptation and innovation by presenting an alternative future to young people where they are able to influence their lives.
Involve Yemeni youth
Those in positions of power should not wait until the end of the conflict to bring Yemeni young leaders into the peacebuilding process. An integral work is carried out every day by young activists. Failure to involve this group in the political process further marginalizes and silences the voices of community members suffering from conflict. Yemeni youth are the future of the country and should have constant access to decision-making.
Youth engagement in peacebuilding efforts “serves to address their feelings of fear, isolation, hopelessness, stigma and, in turn, contributes to the overall security of the community”. Young leaders will not only feel a sense of action in their own lives, but also in the peace process. They become active actors in the history of their nation rather than passive victims of war. When they become the rulers of Yemen, they will have developed the skills to take care of the Yemeni people.
The war has blocked all forms of political participation for Yemeni youth, an essential space for sharing their ideas. It is essential that leaders and international actors do not completely silence them.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.