Youth Hold the Key to Social and Political Change in Jordan
As the world celebrates the International Youth Day on August 12, grim statistics for underrepresentation and conditions of youth in Jordan and the region present an urgent call for comprehensive action to improve their situation.
In Jordan, youth’s engagement in politics remains very low. In the 2016 legislative elections youth’s participation stood at an abysmal 35%, according the Independent Election Commission. The same can be said about young people running for office; in the local and decentralization elections of 2017, only 6% of candidates were under the age of 30, and 14% were under the age of 40.
In the economic sphere, numbers are not encouraging either, as Jordan currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the MENA region, which the youth are disproportionately affected by, as studies show that almost one third of Jordan’s young population is unemployed, 27.2% of them to be exact.
Moreover, a study has found unemployment among young women to reach over 50%, despite women in Jordan having higher rates of literacy and college graduation than males.
With the UN’s chosen theme for 2018 “Safe spaces for youth”, we reiterate Jordan’s need for such places, which will provide an arena for the youth to express themselves freely and participate in activities they need and are interested in.
“Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues; public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community; digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalisation or violence,” according to the UN.
When youth have safe spaces to engage, they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion.
Jordan’s youth, and the youth of the Arab world in general, are affected with a number of crises that have gripped the region for years now, not to mention the ensuing difficult economic conditions, which make them easy targets for extremism, and are in need of urgent support if they are to carry the torch of political, economic and social reform, and truly realise an Arab Renaissance, to which they hold the key.
ARDD realises the dire need of youth for an inclusive society and the vital role they hold in building the cohesive community we aspire to, and thus had launched several initiatives and programmes to create its own “safe spaces” where youth in Jordan can work to acquire tools needed to unleash their potential, and have a space and a network of young people that will help them contribute their insights and opinions to decision making.