Last month, a group of prominent Youth activists held an online discussion via Google Hangout. The discussion was in Arabic, so I asked YPP intern Shelby Jamerson to write up a brief summary for our non-Arabic-speaking readers. The full video of the Hangout is available here. You can learn more about the National Dialogue Conference and the work of the Youth delegates on episodes 2 and 5 of the YPP podcast, Mafraj Radio. Take it away, Shelby: Yemen's so-called Independent Youth (young activists who are not affiliated with any mainstream political party) have 40 representatives participating in Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference. Add to that the designated "youth" delegates from other participating parties, and Yemeni youth compose 20% of the dialogue’s body. The Independent Youth, who played a pivotal role in the removal of former President 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh from office in 2012, have continued to play a central role in the development of a new Yemen. However, many are feeling frustrated with the challenges facing the success of the NDC. On July 15, 2013, Youth activists gathered together to discuss issues and field questions received via YouTube comments and tweets. Here are some of the issues discussed:
Though the NDC comprises members from a wide variety of backgrounds, the youth who make up around 50% of the population feel underrepresented in the talks; they are afraid that their voice is not strong enough to compete with other factions.
- Though foundational for starting a new Yemen, Ghanem Sahar expressed concern that the NDC is a political process meant to assuage tensions outside of the dialogue rather than provide solutions to pressing issues like Southern separation and the Sa’da issue.
- The youth are emphatic about the need for a real constitution to govern the emerging Yemeni state. For Yemen to succeed in creating a new state, there must be a new constitution with clearly defined institutions, political parties, equality, and inclusion. The new state must embrace the idea of a united Yemen where there is no distinction made between north and south or women and men.
- Delegates involved in the dialogue are concerned about the regions that Yemen will split into.
- While the NDC must endeavor to provide a political solution to the Southern issue, delegates expressed concern that this will not end the violence or unrest. The NDC must provide a solution that addresses all of the people’s concerns including education, poverty, health, and basic needs.
- Finally, the youth desire to see a civil state created.