“The trainings contributed to the development of my skills, abilities, and knowledge, especially since there is a clear contrast in ideas and their presentation, which will help us in the future to transfer the concepts and tools that we have learned to the local community, as well as influencing it and changing it for the better.” These words summed up what young activist, Ahmed Mistrihi, gained from the trainings carried out by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), as part of the “New Generation” project, for a group of ARDD young activists.
As a priority to encourage and motivate young people to engage in civic and political participation, develop their skills, and make their voices heard in making decisions that shape their lives and communities, ARDD held four diverse trainings, targeting 20 young men and women from different governorates, as part of building their capacities to create a youth-centered social movement.
The first training, entitled “Human Rights Concepts”, presented by Professor of International Law Dr. Saddam Abu Azzam, focused on how to build knowledge about the conceptual framework of human rights in accordance with the international standards of the United Nations as well as the Jordanian Constitution and relevant legislation, and its role in strengthening civil and political participation, in addition enhancing the skills of young activists and raising their voices to contribute to change within a human-centered legal approach, using various means, including social media platforms.
The training also focused on building the participants’ skills and knowledge on the nature of the rights and obligations of individuals and groups under the Constitution and human rights conventions ratified by Jordan, as well as raising the capabilities of participants through various means of civic and political participation and their application methods (such as the use of social media, voting, political participation, electoral mobilization, etc.).
Building on the topics related to human rights, the second training, entitled “The Concept of Freedom of Opinion and Expression”, dealt with how to promote and clarify the status and importance of freedom of opinion and expression within the framework of universal human rights, as well as strengthening civil and political participation and its practical applications on various communication platforms, in addition to reviewing relevant national legislation and analyzing the restrictions and restraints applied to the right of permissible criticism in Jordanian legal systems.
During this training, young participants gained a deeper understanding of the importance of freedom of expression as a fundamental human right, and its role in strengthening democratic societies, as well as understanding the constraints and challenges facing freedom of expression, such as the shift to hate speech, incitement of violence, and defamation, with the aim of finding a balance between individual rights and public interest.
Coinciding with this training, the ARDD young activists who are active on social media launched a position paper seeking to achieve a balance between reality and the articles of the cybercrime law, in line with international standards of freedom of opinion and expression, as they saw that the draft law represents a direct threat to digital rights, including freedom of expression and the right to information, and will ultimately not achieve the Jordanian government’s stated goals of confronting “false news”, “hatred”, and “slander” online, which leads to the deterioration of civic space spaces and restricts the effective civic and political participation of young men and women and community members at various levels.
With human rights expert, Dr. Riyad Al-Subh, the third training, entitled “Social Justice and Gender Justice”, focused on a comprehensive understanding of social justice, gender justice, and civic and political participation, in addition to learning more about inequalities between men and women and systemic inequalities and how to address them to contribute to building a more inclusive society.
The fourth training, entitled “The Political Participation of Youth and Women in Light of the Modernization of the Political System”, presented by expert Qusai Al-Zu’bi, focused on the need to raise awareness among the youth of the importance of civic and political participation, in addition to promoting the concepts and practices of “accountability, responsibility, and trust”, in order to encourage and empower society and positive attitudes towards change.
Anwar Al-Nizami did not think that there is a real interdependence and need between digital content and public affairs, only to discover after undergoing the training that public participation is “a bridge that links rights and duties through engagement with society and the formation of an active role that’s influential on those around them, whether on the ground or on social media.”
For his part, Rakan Shajrawi stressed the need to encourage young people to participate in the parliamentary elections, especially in light of the reluctance to participate in the parliamentary elections, with the importance of transferring awareness and the public image of citizens, as well as spreading human rights principles at all levels.
Meanwhile, activist Rania al-Nimr said that some party members, actors, and targeted audience need to raise awareness of the concepts that were raised during the training, so parties must be invited and involved in raising their awareness and their capacity.
In conclusion, the youth presented recommendations and proposals during the training workshops that highlighted their interest in the idea and vision of ARDD in general and the New Generation project in particular, and its importance at the national level for what it would provide in empowering and raising the competencies of young people in the field of public participation, as they agreed on the importance of holding and continuing these trainings, because of the knowledge and legal explanations that would enable them to raise issues and present them to public opinion in a more professional manner.
The young activists expressed a serious desire to continue to participate in public work, and recommended training ARDD youth activists on the recognized tools of change available under the umbrella of the law, and holding similar training programs for legislative bodies (the House of Representatives and the Senate) to enable legislators to work according to a common legal and political framework, due to the importance of the legal aspect, as well as creating a national indicator for public participation, similar to most countries of the world, and including the right of reply and the right of public criticism in Jordanian legislation.
Furthermore, they stressed the need to spread knowledge on a larger scale through social media, so that it goes public and beyond the scope of the group of participants, and work to unify their legal terms and concepts so that they have a greater impact, in order to develop a profound knowledge system among young people on various issues, and to practice objectivity and move away from subjectivity when raising discussions and topics, in order to link social and gender justice to activate political and civic participation for women and youth.