A week after the annual CSO Forum, Dalia Al Mokdad, one of the four youth panellists at the forum, meets with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute on Zoom. We have decided to discuss youth and democracy in Lebanon.
Al Mokdad is currently in Beirut. She has a day off from her job as a communications specialist and expert on violent extremism, and takes the time to talk to RWI about the Lebanese youth movement. Al Mokdad is not an official representative for the movement, which has not chosen any leaders, but has been involved for several years and started her activism when she was a university student.
A movement built on human rights values
The movement, Al Mokdad says, is diverse and not always organized or unified. It is, however, united in its call for political change and fight against corruption.
– As the new generation with a culture of human rights values, we can lead the reform in our country, and come up with innovative solutions.
According to Al Mokdad, Lebanese politicians are not inviting the young generation to take part in political decision-making as they claim that the youth are not mature enough. “Being a part of society, I think the youth should not only be involved in youth matters, we should be involved in all matters that we are experts in”, Al Mokdad said during the panel discussion at the CSO Forum and was supported by her colleagues.
What the Lebanese youth movement is striving for in specific, according to Al Mokdad, is technocracy – that Lebanon will be led by experts that have been elected by the Lebanese people.
– Hopefully we will achieve that goal one day, I think it just takes time.
According to Al Mokdad, a potential obstacle to reaching the goals of the Lebanese youth movement could be its lack of leaders. Without leaders, she argues, it is difficult for the movement to organise itself and function strategically as well as effectively.
The problem, as Al Mokdad sees it, is that the youth movement is scared of choosing leaders. She sympathizes with the fear – or “phobia” as she puts it – but thinks that choosing well-informed leaders is the only way forward. Taking part of political life, she argues, requires abiding by the rules thereof and only applying non-political methodologies will therefore not work.
Training and travelling are also key
In addition to choosing a leader, Al Mokdad highlights the need for capacity building and training. She says that the Lebanese youth movement has the will, but is still missing tools as well as a proper strategy to push its agenda forward. What she is calling for in particular is cooperation in the form of exchange programmes and capacity building between youth and experts both inside and outside Lebanon.
Al Mokdad herself has had the chance to gain several international experiences. Travelling has always been an eye-opener for her.
– Personally, I think every single trip abroad has taught me something.
Al Mokdad believes that by travelling and learning from other countries, young people get new perspectives and widen their horizon, which helps them seek development in their own environments.
Despite still being in shock after the explosion in the Beirut port on August 2020, Al Mokdad is determined to keep fighting against corruption as well as to contribute to making Lebanon the democracy she wishes to see.
– I will keep trying and trying and trying. Even if I am not seeing change happening soon, I will keep on doing it for the children in Lebanon. For my niece, my nephews, and my friends’ children.