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Five barriers to youth engagement, decision-making, and leadership in Yemen's political parties


The 2011 Yemen uprisings led to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a transition initiative that led to the departure of former president Saleh and the start of a national dialogue involving all political actors, including 'youth'.

A contributing factor to the  unrest had been the disenfranchisement of a young population (median age 18.5 years). As this briefing demonstrates, the subsequent interaction between youth activists and both traditional and new political parties has not necessarily meant increased engagement with and improvements for the young population. A series of focus group discussions and interviews across five major Yemeni cities shows that discontent exists around many areas, including a lack of consultation on who was to represent political parties at the National Dialogue Conference and a lack of youth consultation in cities outside of Sana'a. A more positive perspective was that newer parties were more willing to include young people.

Five major barriers to youth participation were identified in the research:

  • No culture of positive engagement by political parties
  • Lack of capacity
  • Suspension of party mechanisms for discussion and change
  • Geographical barriers to inclusion
  • A lack of financial resources and security

There are also a series of recommendations for parties, young people, and the international community, including youth capacity building and enhancing democratic mechanisms.

This project and briefing were kindly funded by Zivik/Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.

Read more about our work, including our Amplifying Youth Voices project, in Yemen.

Read more about Resonate! Yemen here.

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Date: January 2014
Author: Ala Qasem
Publisher: Resonate! Yemen, Saferworld
Language: English, Arabic
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Yemen

The more youth feel they can make their voices heard through political parties in Yemen, the greater trust and legitimacy these parties will have.

Ala Qasem