ARDD, in partnership with the Center for Strategic Studies, held a symposium titled “Youth, Independence and Renaissance” on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah School of International Studies. The symposium consisted of three sessions: one held under the name Youth, Independence and Renaissance: Path to the Future; one focusing on youth, parties, development, and political participation; and the third witnessing the launch of the Youth Participation Policies Lab.
Speaking at the meeting were His Excellency Dr. Omar Al-Razzaz, former prime minister, Dr. Nazir Obeidat, President of the University of Jordan, Dr. Zaid Eyadat, director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Ali Al Khawaldeh, secretary-general of the Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, Raed Al Adwan, board member of the Independent Election Commission, Issa Nshewat, Al Nahda Youth Network coordinator, and a group of students from Jordanian universities.
At the opening of the symposium, Eyadat said: “The youth, independence, and renaissance that we are talking about are interconnected. Independence is a value above anything else; it is an act, work, building, and a historical movement. And youth are the mainstay of action, the promise of the future, and the goal of liberation and advancement. Hence the importance of drawing inspiration from the roots of the Arab Renaissance and working to build a new social contract that restores the nation to its civilized role, as a value that is not superior to any other value.”
He added: “The absence of freedom and the weakness of institutions are the most important factors of decline and demise, and the success of nations passes through the gate of the will, giving morals a top priority, accepting the other, drawing a unifying identity, liberating religion from the authority of the text and predecessors, liberating women and empowering youth.”
Obeidat said that “the homeland does not remain alive in us unless we live its story and tell it every hour”, and stressed that it is important to make a link youth to the renaissance and the vision for the future, pointing out that youth are the force that drives toward progress and development and they need to be given their rights and engage in political, economic and social work. At the same time, the youths must play a leading role, and, they can do by developing all their competencies.
In the first session, Razzaz said: “Independence is an important element and a situation we live in and accumulate day after day through achievements”, and highlighted the interest King Abdullah pays to the youths, and the need to enable them to play a role in modernizing the political system and the economic vision and developing the public sector. He also stressed that the renaissance is a state “to which we look forward to achieving and that we have to crystallize so that the human being is at the center of all endeavors”.
“It is our duty to give youth real, not formal, powers in the institutions, centers, and universities to which they belong, as they are the young branches that see the sun and seize its light,” he added.
The second session tackled the importance of youth participation in the parliamentary elections and the political process as a whole. Adwan stressed that supporting youth to modernize the political system and parties is very important, adding that “without this, we cannot cross the next stage correctly”. He also said that fear of youth’s involvement in party life is unjustified, insisting that “we cannot enter the second centenary in the life of Jordan with the same tools, foreshadowing, and fears that were present in the first centenary, and therefore young people have to think seriously about the parties’ file, discuss it and take an active role in it”.
Khawaldeh said that the political and civil participation of youths has nothing to do with their access to job opportunities and that the goal of this participation is to exercise their rights and duties, to make their voices heard, and to participate actively in society, stressing that their role is inevitably going to be felt, “and this is clear in the royal and government focus on the importance of supporting the youths and giving them full rights”.
Representative of Jordanian university students Sama’a Al Qaddoumi said “youths are able to adapt to all changes” and reminded of the role they played during the COVID-19 pandemic when they created many applications that made life easier for citizens and alleviated the stress of closures. She recommended that youths share their achievements and successful experiences for the next generation to benefit from them.
In a speech to Al Nahda Youth Network, Issa Nashiwat said that the meaning of independence for youths has not changed anywhere, and that “wherever they are, their understanding of independence will be the same: “We have the identity of a nation and stand on its solid ground wherever we are. Armed with science and knowledge, we can rely on ourselves and have sustenance.” He stressed that the participation of youth in civil and political life “has become an urgent need, as they cannot continue to live in a present in which they do not participate, or in a future for which they do not decide but are simple spectators”.
Jerash University student Osama Al Damour asked whether the Independent Election Commission “prepared real awareness and orientation programs to stimulate the political participation of youths”. He also said that the Political Parties Law is not a catalyst for attracting youth, who he urged to participate in politics.
Yarmouk University student Hanadi Al Taweel stressed that the youth “want to be liberated from the societal restrictions” and need to be motivated to have partisan participation and get involved in decision-making processes. She said that young people worry greatly about unemployment, stressing that the “biggest concern for youth is finding a job, and then thinking about political action”.
Discussions at the end of the session focused on the challenges youths face in politics, economy, culture, elections, parties, political participation, and independence. Recommendations were made, and the youths were urged to think of appropriate tools to express themselves and their political ideas, promote education, and direct efforts to develop appropriate mechanisms to get empowered.
The participants also stressed the need to unite governmental, legal, civil, and media efforts to create an environment that helps promote the values of culture and arts among youths and boost their creative abilities and talents to express themselves in various political and social fields, among others.
The policy program will be the beginning of strategic cooperation with the University of Jordan, represented by the Center for Strategic Studies, which will enable the youths interested in working on policies related to the political and civic participation of youth, which is implemented by ARDD within the “New Generation” program, to do so. The program will try to work with youths to develop new ideas and adopt an approach that seeks to improve the integration of youths in public work and political participation and raise awareness about the issues facing women and youths, and make known their perceptions and solutions to these issues.