The rising generation of youth in Yemen have developed their political and social worldviews largely within the context of civil war and violent political movements. To escape this cycle of conflict, new leaders must embrace a culture of dialogue and be more amenable to compromise with their peers across the political spectrum for the sake of Yemen’s long-term stability.
To help empower Yemen’s emerging public leaders and equip them with the skills to lead with integrity, in July 2020 DeepRoot welcomed the inaugural cohort of the Hikma Fellowship for Public Leaders. This program brings together 15 emerging leaders from various political parties and movements, civil society groups, and independent youth, including those from regions often underrepresented in the national political arena.
These promising young men and women will undergo a carefully curated 12-month program of dialogue meetings, advanced capacity-building modules, and participant-led activities that will sharpen their leadership skills and encourage collaboration, cultivating a diverse community of young public leaders who are able to build Yemen’s future.
The Hikma Fellowship comes as part of the project A New Generation of Public Leaders in Yemen, supported through the European Union Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and implemented by DeepRoot throughout 2020 and 2021. To learn more about the project and its complementary streams at the local, national, and regional level, click the icon below for the PDF.
Advanced leadership training
The Hikma Fellows will complete advanced training modules covering a range of topics, including adaptive leadership, organising and building social movements, public leadership and policymaking, and leading with integrity. The advanced training will be delivered by internationally renowned institutions and experts, centered around the following four thematic areas:
Tackling core national issues
The Fellows will convene for dialogue sessions throughout the program to work collectively on tackling critical national-level issues from a youth perspective. Through discussion facilitated by Professor Sultan Barakat, senior project advisor, the fellows will determine the urgent and medium-term issues to address.
Urgent issues: For each dialogue meeting, an urgent topic of immediate importance will be addressed. These urgent topics will be identified in consultation between the Fellows, based on their assessment of the most relevant issues facing Yemeni youth at the time of the discussion. The Fellows will discuss the topic, reach out to their networks, and develop their positions on the topic. The outputs from the dialogue sessions, which may include recommendations, briefing reports, or other documents as determined by the Fellows, will be shared with relevant Yemeni and international stakeholders.
Medium-term issue: In addition to tackling an array of urgent issues, the Fellows will work together throughout the program to address one core medium-term issue of their choice. This may be related to the ongoing political process, or a post-conflict priority area. At the end of the Fellowship, during a capstone week in Brussels, Belgium, the Fellows will visit European Union representatives to deliver a final report on the medium-term issue and present their findings and recommendations. The report will also be shared more broadly with national and international stakeholders.
DeepRoot staff will support the Fellows with technical and analytical expertise throughout their discussions on the urgent and medium-term topics. This will include providing the Fellows with background and polling data on the relevant topics, and facilitating input from experts on the topics at hand
Constructive engagement with Yemeni and international stakeholders is another key component of program. Innovative communication tools will be used to reach out to Yemeni youth in order to feed their perspectives into the discussions of the Fellows and ground them in the realities facing young people across the country. At the same time, the Fellows will engage high-level Yemeni, regional and international stakeholders through consultations and briefs, conveying the unique insights young Yemeni leaders have to offer and opening new lines of communication with key actors.
To reach youth nationwide, DeepRoot will use a tailored digital polling mechanism (the Hikma Platform) to receive input from thousands of young Yemenis on the topics being addressed by the Fellows. The youth respondents will be polled at intervals throughout the project, and DeepRoot will present this data to the Fellows to incorporate into their discussions. At the same time, the program staff will support the Fellows to develop their own outreach plan to publicize the project activities and outcomes and interact further with youth across Yemen.
The Fellowship will also include networking and raising the diverse and often under-valued perspectives of Yemeni young leaders to high-level regional and international stakeholders. This will be achieved through various means, including by disseminating the findings and key outcomes from the national-level dialogue meetings and regional forums (see below), and through organizing consultations with stakeholders. At the end of the Fellowship, graduating Fellows will visit Brussels, Belgium, to brief European Union officials on the outcomes of the program and discuss the role of Yemeni youth leaders in peacebuilding and public leadership.
Yemen’s history is closely intertwined with that of its neighbors, sharing strong religious, political, tribal, economic, and social ties. The ongoing conflict has made the bonds that link Yemen with the countries of the Gulf all the more important, as efforts to achieve peace in Yemen cannot be extricated from the broader geopolitical realities in the Gulf and wider region. Therefore, the regional stream of the project will center around a forum bringing together emerging leaders from Yemen with peers and counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.
In the Forum of Emerging Leaders from Yemen and the Gulf, the participants will work on addressing a range of issues of mutual concern related to peace, security, and economic development in Yemen and the Gulf. Through enriching the dialogue between youth leaders and providing a neutral space for sharing experiences and ideas, the Forum is aimed at strengthening collaboration between regional countries and enhancing the role of youth in public leadership. These discussions will build on the groundbreaking pilot Forum of Emerging Leaders from Yemen and the Gulf that DeepRoot convened with EU-support in Kuwait in July 2019.