Members of the Youth Civic and Political Participation Policy Lab gathered to review the outcomes of the Lab first series held in 2022 and to Launch the new phase of the Policy Lab´s sessions for 2023. The interactive event was held on Monday, July 24, 2023, by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) in collaboration with the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan, the lab is part of the “New Generation- GenG”.
During the event, youth participants focused on the key recommendations from the 2022 Policy Lab. The topics covered included the current state of political participation among Jordanian youth, the significance of human capital in political and civil engagement, the role of freedom of expression in fostering political participation, and the link between social justice and economic and political growth. The discussions delved into how these issues relate to the involvement of young people in the political process.
Dr. Zaid Eyadat, the Director of CSS at the University of Jordan, emphasized the importance of equipping the new generation, particularly students from law and political science faculties, with a solid understanding of civil and political participation principles. He highlighted the responsibility of these faculties to train students in public action methods comprehensively. Dr. Eyadat also pointed out that there seems to be a reluctance among young men and women to study political science and pursue public service careers.
Nadine Khoury, the New Generation Program Manager, shared that the Youth Participation Policies Lab serves as a platform for young individuals to express their perspectives, experiences, and concerns related to various issues. The primary objective is to gather insights and find effective solutions while ensuring their voices reach decision-makers for policy formulation and constructive communication.
During the meeting, two students, Obada Al-Wardat (a law student) and Abrar Al-Abwini (a political science student), presented the recommendations from the 2022 Policy Lab outputs. The focus was on urging decision-makers to consider social and economic challenges as opportunities to promote and establish principles of social justice in Jordan. The lab also advocated investing in human capital, providing equal opportunities for all, and integrating marginalized and vulnerable groups in development policies and programs.
Salim Nuqul, sr. researcher at Al-Nahda Thought Center shared the results of the action research held as part of the project, titled “The Meaning of Youth Political Participation.” The research highlighted that youth political participation is currently limited in scope and effectiveness. It also sheds light on the insights of youth who value their contribution to bringing about change through political participation, while also stressing the need to enhance women´s civil and political engagement as well.
The meeting concluded with a discussion session moderated by lawyer and human rights expert Dr. Riad Subh, where participants reflected on the recommendations and their implications, discussing ways forward. They emphasized that youth political participation extends beyond party affiliations and includes various forms of engagement, such as expressing opinions on relevant issues, like the recently enacted “cybercrime” laws.
The young participants revealed several challenges hindering their involvement in political parties, such as the lack of clear programs and organizational mechanisms for party affiliation. They stressed the significance of promoting political knowledge among young people and fostering a broader vision for positive societal change, both at the local and national levels. The participants also emphasized the importance of investing in people and upgrading human capabilities, considering it a shared responsibility of governments, societies, and civil society. Additionally, they called for initiatives to prepare and support young men and women in entering political and civil life.