On October 24 – 25, 2017, GPD Charitable Trust partnered with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) to train twenty-two emerging Iraqi leaders in advocacy and campaign skills.
The young leaders came from a diverse range of backgrounds, but were united in their passion and dedication for improving governance in Iraq. The participants included Kurds, Arabs, Yezidis, a range of religious and sectarian affiliations, and adherents to an array of ideological outlooks. The young leaders encompassed a variety of different approaches towards political activism, including those who had chosen to join existing political parties, those who were creating their own political parties, as well as civil society actors, and protests movement leaders. The workshop took place against a highly charged political backdrop in Iraq, just after Baghdad retook disputed territories from the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Yet the participants from opposing sides of the conflict engaged with each other with curiosity, openness and respect, and friendships and networks were developed between different groups of Iraqis who rarely have the opportunity to interact.
“We are excited to be part of a great program supported by both the American University of Sulymaniyah and KAS. Developing the next generation of leaders in Iraq is critical to developing a better future for both Iraq and the region. We hope to create a world-class leader-development program along the lines of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Initiative which seeks to develop policies that lead to positive change by inspiring leaders to participate in civic action.” – John DeBlasio, Executive Director of the GPD Charitable Trust
The young leaders participated in a series of teambuilding exercises, and in interactive sessions exploring effective advocacy techniques, including how to define goals, identify support bases, address spoilers, reach decision-makers, and building sustainable campaigns. Participants then created mock campaigns, based on a template outlining a range of laddered campaign strategies, and presented them to the group. Based on this learning, participants are now engaged in creating campaign plans for real life campaigns that they will launch, with ongoing mentoring from our team. The young Iraqis also met with activists from Beirut Madinati, a new political movement in Lebanon which upended Lebanese politics by participating in municipal elections in Beirut with a radically governance focused agenda. The Iraqis were inspired by the strategies used by their Lebanese counterparts, and participated in a lively exchange of ideas.