Young activist seeks to improve lives of Somali youth
For the last six years Mohamed Arshad Ibrahim has been at the forefront of efforts to mobilize and empower young people in Somalia. Mohamed is the Executive Director of the Youth Peer Education Network in Somalia (Y-PEER Somalia), a non-profit organization bringing together young people and youth organizations and leading peer-to-peer education programmes.
“We are members of the global network for Youth, Peace and Security, and we advocate for our country to give youth a greater voice in decision-making at local, regional and national levels,” the 28-year-old Mohamed explains.
The organization’s work reflects the message of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), which urges Member States to set up mechanisms that enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes and dispute resolution.
“By discussing issues that affect them, youth come up with solutions, which we can share with the government as well as the international community,” Mohamed says.
Mohamed notes a recent increase in the number of youth organizations in Somalia and believes that these groups can influence the country’s agenda of peace and development.
A crucial aspect of Y-PEER’s activities focuses on anti-radicalization campaigns, through which they target vulnerable youth who might join militant groups. Mohamed strongly believes that youth should play a major role in peace building and conflict resolution. “I look forward to a more stable and peaceful Somalia, where all the rights of citizens are respected and aspirations are met,” he says.
“As youth, we aspire for a Somalia with vibrant and functional education and health sectors, which meet the needs of the people. We want a Somalia led by an effective government that promotes equality and safeguards the freedoms of its people,” notes Mohamed.
The scope of Y-PEER Somalia’s activities is not limited to peace advocacy. The organization also hosts workshops to educate young people on hygiene and reproductive health issues to ensure they lead healthy lives so they can contribute effectively to the development of Somalia. Currently, Y-PEER Somalia operates in the capital Mogadishu, Puntland and Somaliland, and plans to expand to the regional capitals of South West, Jubbaland and Galmudug states.
The UN officially recognizes youth development as one of the core priorities of its mandate. The UN believes that responding to the needs and aspirations of Somali youth is crucial to building lasting peace and stability in Somalia. Over the last few years the UN has been working to bolster youth programmes and empower young Somalis to become partners in its peace- and state-building efforts.