Youth Forums Offer Hope to Young Syrians
As the ongoing political crisis continues to uproot Syrian citizens from their homes, the displacement has been felt keenly by Syrian youth. Young Syrians have few avenues to express their desperation and even fewer platforms for civic engagement. In 2016, IFES assisted Syrian organizations based in Gaziantep, Turkey to found Musharaka, a forum to encourage civic engagement of Syrians living in Gaziantep. In its first year, Musharaka has reached over 1,060 Syrian youth in Gaziantep, an astounding 48 percent of whom have been young women. The popularity of the Youth Forum has led to the creation of a distinct Adolescents’ Forum, designed to meet the unique needs and worldview of this youngest segment of Syrian activists. Today the Youth and Adolescents’ Forums are engaged in a leadership development program that focuses on fostering critical skills for young activists by placing them in leadership roles. Both the Youth and Adolescents’ Forums have elected representatives from among their ranks to engage with Syrian opposition leaders and Turkish officials on a variety of issues, including the crisis of education facing young Syrians in Turkey. Through the Musharaka Forum, IFES and its local partners have been able to establish a beacon of hope and optimism where few others have realized success and meaningful impact.